Bourne Lifts Ban on Private Docks and Piers

Private docks and piers are no longer prohibited in Bourne, but over the past year the Conservation Commission only reports receiving about a dozen new filings. It was summer of 2022 when the Bourne Conservation Commission unanimously voted to lift a 20-year moratorium on new private pier and dock construction in the area.

The recent change in regulations was actually a work in progress for several years. Local leaders had previously discussed the issue, but it wasn’t until 2021 that the idea really got attention.

While the ban is no longer in place, there are several new stipulations before a new pier or dock can be approved. For instance, there are rules regarding how much sunlight has to reach saltmarsh below a new dock, plus people walking on the shoreline have to have enough space to easily walk past or under them. 

There are also rules in place regarding water depth at the end of a float or pier, and it varies if there are shellfish in the area, too. In addition, they can’t be within 100 feet of a mooring anchor.

It goes to say that new docks are also quite expensive. Some estimates suggest while it takes time to make sure the docks comply with all the rules, it also could take hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That’s how much it could cost to fund the design, site preparation, plus to pay for consultants, engineering, manufacturing, and construction. There may also be a need for surveying, along with mitigation fees, and agreements made for seasonal removal of the docks.

First enacted in the early 2000s, the ban was in place for two decades, but it wasn’t without controversy. It took two years of commission discussion before the ban was put in place. As for the new regulations, they only affect new projects, not existing ones.

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