Shoreland Zoning

The State mandatory Shoreland Zoning law requires that municipalities protect shoreland areas through adopting shoreland zoning maps and ordinances. Zoning ordinances provide for what types of activities can occur in certain areas. For example, they address building size and setbacks, and the establishment of resource protection, general development, residential, and other zones. Shoreland areas include areas within 250 feet of the normal high-water line of any great pond, river or saltwater body, areas within 250 feet of the upland edge of a coastal wetland, areas within 250 feet of the upland edge of a freshwater wetland except in certain situations, and areas within 75 feet of the high-water line of a stream.

The Town of Topsham regulates Shoreland Zone (SZ) areas in compliance with the State law. The Town’s Official Zoning map shows these areas and indicates the SZ associated with them. Because the boundaries of these zones can extend well away from the protected resource, land owners may not realize their properties are located in a SZ and subject to regulation. If you are not sure if your property is in a SZ, please check with the Codes office.

Land uses such as buildings, tree cutting (clearing for development), soil disturbance, roads, driveways, etc., are regulated by the SZ ordinance and may require a Shoreland Permit. Table 1, Land Uses in the Shoreland Zone, indicates what uses are allowed/not allowed, whether permits are/are not required and what Town official issues them. Compliance with the SZ land use standards apply even if a permit is not required, if you have any questions please ask.  


Shoreland Zoning; See chapter 225-19

Table 1, Land Uses in the Shoreland Zone

Zoning Map and Interactive Maps