by Andrew Getty
Recently, there have been several different unsuspecting home owners, who were taken back by the fact that a permit is required for a new or replacement dock.
This is not a new law; permits have been required for docks for over forty years in the Town of Webb.
Whether the dock floats, is on legs, piers, built on cribs or rolls in on wheels, it is a dock.
Rolling one in and out for the season does NOT exempt it from the regulation.
To better understand some of the specifics of the dock regulations, here is some of the language straight from the Town’s ordinance:
Start with: What is a dock?
“Any fixed or floating structure or device placed on or in a navigable body of water or along the shoreline of such body of water and used to provide any means of docking, berthing, launching, or anchoring of one or more boats, usually also providing a means of walking access between boats and the shoreline, including piers, wharfs, breakwalls, and similar structures.
How large can a dock be?
No component of a dock shall exceed eight (8) feet in width; the surface area of a dock, including all finger docks or similar components, shall not exceed three hundred (300) square feet in area.
This means you can have shapes and configurations such as ‘T’ – ‘U’ – ‘L’ – ‘F’ – ‘E’, however the total surface square footage shall not exceed 300 square feet.
And no individual component shall be wider than 8 feet. Example, an 8 X 30 foot dock is okay. Marinas and shared contractual access docks are different.
Where can I put my dock?
Docks shall conform to the required side yard setback applying to a principal building in the district.
Almost in all locations 25 feet is the minimum setback from any side property line.
There are some areas in the Town where the shoreline area is in a different zoning district and allows only a 15 foot side setback… again, most areas require 25 feet. Verify your location with your Code Office.
How is the setback applied out in the water?
For purposes of applying the setback out beyond the shoreline, the projection of the side property line is used.
This works in most cases when the property lines are near perpendicular to the water.
There will be some situations that this creates a problem, especially when the property lines are skewed, not close to being perpendicular or maybe in a cove area.
Each situation may be different. In these cases the Zoning Board of Appeals may be able to offer relief, again, depending on the situation.
Is a permit required for new, repaired or replaced docks? Yes, always from the town.
Depending on the kind of docks, DEC, Army Corp of Engineers, APA and in a few places the NYS Thruway Authority (Canal Corp.) may also have jurisdiction.
The Town of Webb has a complete inventory of all other agency applications to try and help the applicant as much as possible.
All agencies have their forms on-line as well.
If a dock is old (pre-dating 1973) and huge, much bigger than 300 sq. ft. and wider than 8 feet in each direction and closer than 25 feet to my property line, does it have to be moved or made smaller when replaced?
Not necessarily. Any legal, pre-existing non-conforming dock may be replaced in kind subject to a conditional permit from the Planning Board.
Although the Planning Board will look for ways to make it conforming to current regulations, or at least more conforming, the Planning Board does have the authority to approve its replacement in the same spot and to the same size.
Keep in mind that the Planning Board would not be involved if the applicant chooses to replace the old non-conforming dock with a new conforming dock.
Again, there are no exceptions as to when a permit is required for new docks, replacement docks, repair of existing docks or any other typical shoreline structure.
Recently, there have been too many people getting pretty upset when this office told them they need a permit and were told by somebody else that no permits were required.
Especially when they have already paid for the new one and the new one is not compliant and this office can’t just issue the permit.
If we can just issue the permit we will, but if we can’t, we can’t.
Knowledge and understanding is so important. Call the Code Office for your town to be informed.