Within a FERC licensed hydroelectric project, the term project use refers to operation of the hydroelectric facilities, public recreation access, and certain wildlife enhancement. Abutting homeowners and others with deeded rights to FirstLight lands and waters may apply for a permit for non-project uses. Any use or alteration made within the river or lake, or on FirstLight’s lands and easements, requires a permit from FirstLight. These may include excavation and earth disturbance, cutting trees, clearing undergrowth, landscaping, building a dock, launching ramp, retaining wall, or other structure, constructing roads, and installing drains.
The Shoreline Management Plan (SMP) serves as a guide in permitting these uses or occupancies. Some uses or alterations are not permitted at all and others are not allowed at certain locations because of conflicts with impoundment management and FirstLight policy. If you are considering repairing or altering an existing use or a new use the first step is always to contact staff at FirstLight Land Management.
If you live on one of FirstLight’s impoundments you will need a permit to maintain an existing dock and for any new or replacement dock structures. Not all properties with access to the water have the right to a dock and all existing docks may not be allowed to remain. Existing docks must meet the definition and requirements for preexisting docks as set forth in the Shoreline Management Plan (Exhibit A, Section VI. Docks Within Project Boundaries).
If you are applying for a new dock or a modified replacement dock structure you should refer to Exhibit F- Boat Dock Guidelines within the SMP. The Boat Dock Guidelines provide information on length, maximum square footage, the placement of docks, and appropriate construction materials. Fully encapsulated foam is required on all new or modified docks; and on all docks by April 1, 2018. If you are new homeowner and the foam on your dock is not encapsulated it will need to be replaced. FirstLight Land Management Staff will evaluate your dock application and determine what is permissible for a dock at your location.
Retaining Walls, Steps and Paths, and other Upslope Uses
Historically the development of the lands surrounding FirstLight’s impoundments has included the construction of many different structures, walls, patio areas, steps and walks. All uses on these upslope lands require a permit from FirstLight. FirstLight will not issue a permit for new sheds, gazebos, patios, decks or similar structures into the future. Any existing uses will be reviewed by FirstLight to determine if they can be permitted.
Permit applications for retaining walls that control erosion and filter sediments, paths and walkways or steps that provide recreational access, and level sitting areas surfaced with mulch, sand, or gravel or peastone can be considered as part of a comprehensive plan for your permitted area of waterfront. Minor grading associated with the construction of these uses is also permissible. FirstLight requires that any retaining walls exceeding 4 feet height be designed by a CT licensed Engineer. All designs being reviewed should include a Native Vegetation Planting Plan, address any issues with Stormwater Management, and detail appropriate erosion and sediment measures.
Shoreline Stabilization and Other Shoreline Uses
Shorelines are the point of connection of the aquatic environment with the adjacent uplands. An unstable shoreline can erode through exposure to rain, wind, and water and ice action. Homeowners along FirstLights impoundments can apply for permits for the repair, replacement or construction of new Shoreline Uses that stabilize the shoreline such as seawalls, rip-rap revetments and alternative or soft shoreline stabilization techniques.
Applications can also include uses that provide access to the water such as steps and ramps or boat landings, FirstLight’s “Shoreline Management Manual, A Homeowners Guide to Shoreline Stabilization and Vegetated Buffer Zones” is available to provide guidance on the preservation and restoration of the natural shoreline and responsible approaches to shoreline stabilization. The manual provides many construction details for alternative shoreline stabilization techniques which can be adapted to your permitted area of shoreline.
Permits issued for new or replacement seawalls will require a determination from a CT licensed Engineer, familiar with FirstLight’s impoundments, that these alternative shoreline stabilization techniques are not feasible and a vertical seawall is necessary. FirstLight also requires that all vertical seawalls be designed by a CT licensed Engineer. A healthy shoreline performs important environmental functions providing habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial species and contributing to better water quality.
Vegetated buffers are areas of natural vegetation or established vegetation maintained along lakes and rivers. Buffer areas protect water quality by slowing storm water runoff and providing an area where runoff can permeate the soil; preventing erosion, filtering sediments, and absorbing nutrients. Abutting homeowners along FirstLight’s impoundments are required to maintain or re-establish vegetated buffer areas as outlined in the Shoreline Management Plan.
For new homeowners without a compliant vegetated buffer, the requirement must be meet within five years. For all homeowners who are applying for a permit to modify an existing use or are adding a new use a Native Vegetation and Landscape Plan must be approved as part of a comprehensive plan. Plans may include the preservation of existing naturally vegetated and forested areas with selective removals or pruning to establish a view corridor. Proposed buffer plantings may be composed of native shrubs, trees, ground covers, grasses, and perennial plantings. Lawn areas are not considered as part of a vegetated buffer.
FirstLight’s Shoreline Management Manual – A Homeowners Guide to Shoreline Stabilization and Vegetated Buffer Zones is available to provide guidance on the requirements, location, design, and installation of your buffer area.
Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and/or snowmelt flows over the land or impervious surfaces into stormwater drains, pipes or channels, discharging into adjacent water bodies. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that adversely impact water quality.
FirstLight has developed a Shoreline Management Manual that provides several techniques that can be employed to mitigate stormwater impacts.