LINCOLN, Maine — If you live on one of the town’s 14 ponds and lakes and see a man photographing properties from a small boat over the next week, chances are it will be town Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Davis, officials said Tuesday.
Depending on the weather, Davis will begin waterfront inspections on the ponds and lakes later this week or early next week, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said in a statement.
Davis compares the photographs he takes with filed photographs of shorelines to see whether any changes have broken town and state regulations. He and other town officials spent more than a year compiling the photographic database to help ensure consistent enforcement of regulations.
“It has proven be a really good way to inspect waterfront properties. Most waterfront development occurs between the shoreline and the structure,” town Code Enforcement Supervisor Ruth Birtz said Tuesday.
As code enforcement officer, Davis is charged with inspecting the town’s lakes and ponds, plus the Penobscot River and its tributaries. He does inspections twice a year.
Among other things, Davis searches for violations including erosion, overcutting of trees and shrubs, gravel set too close to shorelines within the state-required setbacks, new buildings or septic systems built without permits, and water pollution.
He also works with Maine Department of Environmental Protection officials, town homeowner associations and residents to maintain water quality.
Previous inspections revealed a sunken boat, illegal septic systems, gravel dumped within 75 feet of shore and the overcutting of shoreline trees.
Under state law, violators have 15 days to correct or provide a plan for correcting violations or they could face civil court action and daily fines ranging from $100 to $2,500.
Davis encourages residents to call 794-3372 if they have questions about potential violations or work they want to do on their properties. He also will work with residents to correct violations rather than seeking fines or taking other punitive measures, he has said.
Davis makes unannounced inspections whenever he receives a report of a potential violation but likes to announce his inspections to foster cooperation between shoreline property owners and the town.
“He really isn’t anticipating any problems,” Birtz said. “It’s gotten to the point where people are calling him before they do work on their properties to ensure that they are in compliance. This has made it a lot better for everyone and it ensures the quality of the lake.”