Frequently Asked Questions

Why Can’t This Land Be Altered Without FirstLight Approval?

FirstLight owns the bed of the lake or has “flowage rights” over the land, together with additional land and easement rights along the shoreline. When you alter or build on this property without FirstLight written approval you are in violation of FirstLight policy and property rights, and could be in conflict with federal license requirements.

Failure to obtain prior approval from FirstLight may jeopardize your investment. You may have to remove the structure, make expensive modifications, and implement mitigation measures. You may also have difficulty refinancing or selling your property if you build in violation of a deed restriction. In some cases, legal action may be taken. Fines and loss or suspension of existing shoreline use applications may occur.

Why Should FirstLight Be Contacted?

It is best to contact land management at FirstLight about the possible uses or alterations of a specific area BEFORE purchasing lake property or signing a contract. One telephone call or letter to find how shoreline development is restricted could save you TIME and MONEY. Rights and restrictions can vary from one property to another, so it is essential to speak or correspond directly with FirstLight about your specific site and how to apply for a permit.

How Should You Begin?

First, call, write, or email FirstLight’s Land Management Department. Tell them what you plan to do. They will tell you how to apply for permission and what information is needed. It’s simple to apply and FirstLight personnel are ready and willing to help.

How Does The Approval Process Work?

After you send the required information to FirstLight, a review will be made and a response will be sent to you. If your proposed work is acceptable, a license will be sent. If not an explanation will be made as to how your proposed work may be made acceptable. The diagram below which is also available as part of our permit application illustrates the process.

Who can have a dock?

Your rights to a dock are set forth in your deed to your property. Your deed should describe your right to a dock and other uses that are on FirstLight’s land or lands managed under their license with FERC. Not all properties with access to the water have the right to a dock. Always contact a representative from the Land Management Department at FirstLight if you are considering purchasing lake property or have questions regarding your right to a dock.

Where do I apply for a permit?

The first step to applying for a permit is to call, contact, or email the Land Management Department at FirstLight. A copy of the Warranty Deed to the property, a map or survey, photos, and dimensioned drawings of the proposed dock and any associated lifts or other structures will be needed to evaluate your application. You may also need approval from other local or state agencies depending on your proposal.

What materials can my dock be constructed of?

Docks should be constructed so that they have no permanent structural contact with submerged land. Removable dock systems that sit on the lake bed may be permitted. Consideration will generally be given to the maintenance and replacement of existing dock structures that do not meet this requirement.

The surface area of docks should be made with rot resistant materials, such as cedar, pressure treated lumber, metal, or synthetic composite materials. Flotation materials in new or modified docks need to be completely enclosed to prevent the materials from being chewed by animals, breaking apart, or floating away. With the transfer of a property, or with the replacement or change in dock configuration, the flotation materials on an existing dock will need to be replaced with a fully encapsulated system. All dock flotation will need to be fully encapsulated by April 1, 2018.

Can I remove the Housatonic River Project tag on my dock?

No. The tag indicates that you have received a permit for your dock and your other waterfront uses. It must be attached permanently and be visible from the water.

Can I have a mooring?

Moorings are only permitted in circumstances where there is a deeded right to a dock and installation is not feasible due to site conditions. Moorings must also be approved by the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. All existing unpermitted moorings will be removed by March 27, 2015.

Why was my dock removed?

Your Dock may have been removed if a permit was not obtained or it has not been properly maintained. Unpermitted and derelict docks could prove to be navigational hazards. FirstLight may also charge an enforcement fee plus the cost for recovering and removal of the dock.

What is a Vegetated Buffer?

A Vegetated Buffer as an area of native vegetation created through natural succession (ie stop mowing grass) or the planting of native trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants or ground covers. To aid home owners in the design and location of their vegetated buffers FirstLight has drafted a Shoreline Management Manual, A Homeowners Guide to Shoreline Stabilization and Vegetated Buffer Zones.

Is a Vegetated Buffer Required?

Yes. If you are a new lake resident who recently purchased a home that abuts the Project Boundary a compliant vegetated buffer will be required within 5 years of the change in ownership. A compliant buffer will also be required if you are adding a new use or making modifications to an existing use within FirstLight’s Project Boundary.