Ossipee – August 10, 2011 — Legislation to reset Ossipee Lake’s natural mean high-water benchmark went into effect at the end of last month. Proponents say the law returns shoreline properties, which had been claimed by the State of New Hampshire, to their rightful owners.
After going into effect on July 26, HB 278 changed the natural mean high-water mark of Ossipee Lake to 407.25 feet above sea level. Previously, the state was claiming ownership to land below 410 feet.
The high-water benchmark’s importance became clear in 2009 when the N.H. Department of Environmental Services began prohibiting people from making improvements on their property below the 410 mark, said the law’s prime sponsor, Rep. Mark McConkey of Freedom.
Ossipee Lake Alliance found that a significant number of people had property along the lake that’s below 410. In fact, 12 survey respondents said the state made claim to their entire property, including their home.
Ossipee Lake Alliance board member Bob Reynolds hailed the new law. He said people around the lake, including his family, are happy to own their property again.
“It was a problem, and we came up with a solution that worked for everybody,” said Reynolds. “This is an example of a situation where party politics have no place. Thank goodness politics didn’t enter into it.”
McConkey said all the stakeholders involved wanted to see the situation made right. The new high-water mark is the level at which the state maintains the lake in the summer.
Gov. John Lynch signed the bill into law on May 27. Other bill sponsors were Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), Rep. David Babson (R-Ossipee) and Harry Merrow (R-Ossipee).