Down With ‘410 Rule,’ Ossipee Lake Group Says

Ossipee — June 8, 2010 — Some Ossipee Lake homeowners are worried that the state’s high-water-line law has unfairly given ownership of their private waterfront land to the state. In some cases entire lots — including homes — are technically state-owned, leaving property owners demanding tax breaks and fearing they may not be able to sell or build dream homes, residents and town officials said Tuesday.

“Nobody is quite sure what to do. It’s so bizarre,” said David Smith, director of the Ossipee Lake Alliance, an influential lakefront homeowners’ group.

The state’s so-called 410 Rule purportedly establishes the natural mean high water mark of the state’s fifth largest lake at 410 feet above sea level. But Smith and town officials say the state has no data to back it up.

Everything under the 410 feet the state owns. That means it’s subject to certain shoreline protection regulations. For at least 12 property owners, that means the state owns everything they thought was theirs, a lakefront recently released survey said.

The Ossipee Lake Alliance surveyed 1,600 property owners. Out of the 288 who responded, 35 said the state owns 25 percent of their land, while 12 said the state owns it all plus the house. Thirty-three don’t know who owns their septic system. More than half were “very concerned” about the rule, an alliance report said.

The situation has town and state officials asking tough questions. For example, how was the 410-feet-above-sea-level number set? Nobody seems to know.

“The state doesn’t know how it got the number,” said selectman and historian Harry Merrow.

A New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services spokesman could not immediately be reached Tuesday.

Merrow, a former state lawmaker who is running again for his old seat, will take state environmental officials on a boat tour on June 22 in hopes of reaching a compromise. A public hearing will likely follow later in the summer, he said. He’s joined in the effort by state Rep. Mark McConkey, who has also been gathering data.

In the meantime, people have come to town hall looking for tax relief. Merrow said Ossipee selectmen have been denying requests only because granting them would lend credibility to the 410 Rule.

“They’re saying we’re not going to pay taxes on land we don’t own, and we don’t blame them,” he said.

He said if no answer is found, a slew of court suits could follow.

“The potential is there for something very serious. Right now it’s unclear,” Merrow said. “There’s going to be one hell of a mess if they stick to it.”

It may never be possible to determine the true natural waterline, Merrow said, because the lake is dammed to control its volume. The fear is that some building lots in Freedom may have been rendered unbuildable by the 410 Rule because they are fully below the line, he added.

Smith said speculation is spreading that people won’t be able to sell homes without a clear title. Moreover, he said many title insurance policies contain exceptions regarding state shore-front regulations.

At a December meeting with Department of Environmental Services and the state attorney general’s office, Smith said the state officials could not produce any evidence, including a paper trail, or topographic data, showing how the benchmark was set. The officials said they’d consider moving the line if locals can prove it’s wrong.

“Nobody knows who did it, what information they used or how they ended up with that number,” Smith said.

Still, he said he’s frustrated that it’s been left to the town to prove the state wrong.

“Why is the state not doing this?” he said.


  1. Philip Marks 14 years ago June 8, 2010

    Class action law suit is needed

  2. Lisa Louttit 14 years ago June 8, 2010

    Are there any plans to have a meeting with lake front owners and local/state officials this Summer?

  3. Chris 14 years ago June 8, 2010

    There is no way the state of New Hampshire will ever take away tax producing properties, unless of course they can come up with a policy of leasing the properties back to the original landowners, but that is way to complicated. They will never be able to produce evidence of the 410 height, otherwise it would have already surfaced. As far as I can figure it, the dam was installed to raise the water level to a higher than natural height, also allowing more potential water reserve for the hydro-electric power station downstream on the Ossipee River. The historical answer, I think, lies with the original owners of the power company that operated in Maine.

  4. atony 14 years ago June 8, 2010

    continuation from: “410 Rule Has Ossipee Lake Community Worried” article (previous newsletter)

    George W…more babbling for you,

    George W. at 9:38 pm on June 4th, 2010

    atony said “…Have you heard the most recent job numbers??? 430k new jobs, of those only 40k where private sector. That means more gov employees that need compensation, healthcare benefits and pensions on our tax dollars….”
    Once again you babble about something you know nothing about, even though the answer is readily available. Approximately 400k of these new jobs were temporary census workers that receive no heakth benefits or retirement, and will be back unemployed next month. In order to tackle a problem, you first need to have the ability to comprehend it. You have shown a very good knack at being unable to do either. Perhaps, if things are so bad here in the Granite State, you should just pack your bags and move back south of the border!

    Couple of things here George,
    1. If people like me leave your wonderful Granite state who is going to pick up the slack when it comes to your state’s tax revenue…you?…people like you? How much of your state tax revenue comes from those out of state people N.H residents seem to detest so much? I suggest you be thankful for the tax revenue from “out of staters” and be on your way.

    2.With respect to the 400k temp census workers…I’m sure they didn’t collect any salary right…they worked for free…right?, no cost what so ever..right. Benefits, pensions aside it still cost the tax payers a bundle for this so desperately needed census at a time when our economy is in the dumper. More money well spent by our government…right?

    You get lost in the details all you want but you missed the main point. Our government is not representing the people it’s taking advantage of them. A real good example of this is the “410 rule” debacle. Why should anyone pay tax on land they don’t own??
    “In order to tackle a problem, you first need to have the ability to comprehend it”…exactly what problem are you tackling? What’s your purpose…how to manage a message board? But, you keep on with your over inflated sense of intelligence and believe you’ve made some kind of point. Most people, excluding you, are smart enough to know that our government is primarily an organization of bureaucrats, with their own list of hidden agendas, that continue to align with increased growth and spending.

  5. George W. 14 years ago June 8, 2010

    atony….too hard to just say “I was wrong”? And no, I don’t want all the Mass transplants to go home, many of them are good folk that have added to the great success of this State. But the one’s like you, that just want to complain because they don’t want to pay their fair share, need to head back south and flock with the malcontents from whence they came!

  6. atony 14 years ago June 9, 2010

    Pay my fair share???? When is enough, enough for people like you…in case you didn’t get it, I and people like me, pay MORE than our fair share…but if you are a gov employee or better yet a unionized gov employee you are always going to want more aren’t you?
    Of course you don’t want all the Mass transplants to go home….indeed we have added to the “success” of the state. Many of your social programs would most likely not exist were it not for us or maybe your property taxes would be much higher. Dare I say it you might even have a state income tax without us. You need the ones that will pay unfair taxes without any questions….
    When I am wrong I will admit it but I won’t accept the current course of our government as prudent. I will always challenge the logic of our gov especially when we are taxed on property we do not own. Your not going to be able to con anyone with this complaining taxpayer nonsense…who do you think you are…OBAMA???

  7. tweetybird 14 years ago June 9, 2010

    hi george w..
    keep drinking the cool-aid…i agree with atony 100%….big government is just bigger waist…as a hard working, small business owner, i do not get even close to the benefits government employees get….in fact, my health insurance is going up another 12% next year…a plan i can barely afford at the moment…and that increase will help pay for all those people who choose not to work….we are just atm’s for the government..paying for their benefits along with those people who keep taking and taking….i am sick of it…..

  8. George W. 14 years ago June 10, 2010

    I’ll stop drinking the kool-aid when you and atony stay out of the liquor cabinet before coming here and posting. Deal?

  9. Takisha Ondik 14 years ago June 12, 2010

    I figured epidural was for only expecting mothers who couldn’t bear the pain any further.

  10. atony 14 years ago June 13, 2010

    don’t need to be sober to wrangle with you George…consider it the handicap

  11. George W. 14 years ago June 14, 2010

    Aw C’mon atony…are you sure you ain’t Charlie Smith? If not, at least admit that you are way out there on the lunatic fringe with him & his partners!

  12. atony 14 years ago June 15, 2010

    honestly no…I live on the other end of the lake. but if you think I am charlie that explains your “don’t want to pay my fair share” comment. i’m just another property owner who works hard and sees gov. , local and federal, taking and growing way too much. but if you are OK with how the gov. operates…


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