This publication is presented for "Classroom Use Only."  Its intended use is to stimulate and aid in discussion and role playing within a classroom setting.

PREFACE: The Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act, 38 M.R.S.A., Section 435-449, requires all municipalities to adopt, administer, and enforce ordinances which regulate land use activities within 250 feet of great ponds, rivers, freshwater and coastal wetlands, and tidal waters; and within 75 feet of steams as defined. The Act also requires the Board of Environmental Protection to establish minimum guidelines for such ordinances. This document, adopted by the Board on February 14, 1990 and amended July 14, 1992, August 7, 1994, and February 6, 1999, contains those guidelines for municipal shoreland ordinances. The Act requires that municipalities adopt shoreland zoning ordinances consistent with, or no less stringent than, those minimum guidelines.

Municipalities need not adopt this guideline ordinance word for word. In fact, the Department encourages municipalities to consider local planning documents and other special local considerations, and to modify this ordinance into one that meets the needs of the particular community. Municipalities may wish to adopt more stringent ordinances, or ordinances which are completely different from the guidelines, provided that such ordinances, are equally or more effective in achieving the purposes of the Act. In addition, coastal communities must address the coastal management policies cited in 38 M.R.S.A., Section 1801.

When a municipality determines that special local conditions within portions of the shoreland zone require a different set of standards from those in the minimum guidelines, the municipality shall document the special conditions and submit them, together with its proposed ordinance provisions, to the Board for review and approval. No amendment to an ordinance which effects the shoreland zone is valid without the approval of the Commissioner of the Department.

Neither this "Preface" nor the "Notes" contained in this model ordinance are official parts of the ordinance and should not be incorporated into a municipality's locally adopted ordinance. The Preface and Notes are provided for explanatory purpose only.

Municipalities must be aware that in addition to the requirements of the Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act, the requirements of the Comprehensive Planning and Land Use Regulation Act (30-A M.R.S.A., Chapter 1878, Sections 4312-4349) will be an integral part of a municipality's overall strategy for managing future development. For example, parts of a municipality's shoreland area may be designated as an area for growth while others will be designated as rural or slow growth areas.

In many situations, the shoreland zoning ordinance will be an effective total for implementing the goals and policies of a municipality's comprehensive plan. A municipality may choose to integrate the shoreland zoning requirements into a town-wide zoning ordinance or choose to have a separate shoreland zoning ordinance. Regardless, the shoreland zoning provisions should form an integrated approach to managing growth as well as fulfilling the requirements of the Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act.

For more information on the Growth Management Program, please contact your regional council or the State Planning Office, 38 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333.

For more information on the shoreland zoning law, please contact the Department of Environmental Protection's Shoreland Zoning Unit, 17 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333.


Shoreland Zoning Ordinance for the Municipality of




Sections 1 through 8

1. Purposes

2. Authority

3. Applicability

4. Effective Date and Repeal of Formerly Adopted Ordinance

5. Availability 

6. Severability

7. Conflicts with Other Ordinances

8. Amendments

9. Districts and Zoning Map

A. Official Shoreland Zoning Map

B. Scale of Map

C. Certification of Official Shoreland Zoning Map

D. Changes to the Official Shoreland Zoning Map

10. Interpretation of District Boundaries

11. Land Use Requirements

12. Non-conformance

A. Purpose

B. General

C. Non-conforming Structures

D. Non-conforming Uses

E. Non-conforming Lots

13. Establishment of Districts

A. Resource Protection District

B. Limited Residential District

C. Limited Commercial District

D. General Development District

E. Commercial Fisheries/Maritime Activities District

F. Stream Protection District

14. Table of Land Uses

15. Land Use Standards

A. Minimum Lot Standards

B. Principal and Accessory Structures

C. Piers, Docks, Wharves, Bridges and Other Structures and Uses Extending Over or Beyond the Normal High-Water Line of a Water body or within a Wetland

D. Campgrounds

E. Individual Private Campsites

F. Commercial and Industrial Uses

G. Parking Areas

H. Roads and Driveways

I. Signs

J. Storm Water Runoff

K. Septic Waste Disposal

L. Essential Services

M. Mineral Exploration and Extraction

N. Agriculture

O. Timber Harvesting

P. Clearing of Vegetation for Development

Q. Erosion and Sedimentation Control

R. Soils

S. Water Quality

T. Archaeological Site

16. Administration

A. Administering Bodies and Agents

B. Permits Required

C. Permit Application

D. Procedure for Administering Permits

E. Special Exceptions

F. Expiration of Permit

G. Installation of Public Utility Service

H. Appeals

I. Enforcement

17. Definitions

Appendix A: Alternative to 30% Expansion Rule pursuant to Title 38, Section 439-A,

Subsection 4-A A-1

Appendix B: Maine Guidelines for Manure and Manure Sludge Disposal on land B-i

NOTE: The Board of Environmental Protection recognizes that many municipalities have developed and adopted comprehensive land use ordinances for all land areas within their respective communities. Those ordinances may or may not follow a similar format to this guideline ordinance. It is not the intent of the Board to impose this guideline ordinance on a municipality which, within its land use codes, has otherwise met the intent and purposes of the Mandatory Shoreland Zoning Act and this guideline ordinance.

Whether or not municipalities choose to integrate their shoreland zoning requirements into a townwide zoning ordinance, it is important to develop a comprehensive and coordinated strategy for managing and guiding growth in the shoreland area.