Boathouse

The building at right is a partially completed replacement for a boathouse that collapsed in Moultonborough. The state Department of Environmental Services lost a 3-year fight against the project, claiming it was too high. In the foreground is a garage. (Courtesy photo)

MOULTONBOROUGH — The state Supreme Court has handed victory to a local couple in a 3-year legal fight with the Department of Environmental Services over replacement of a boathouse.

“I hope somebody at the DES gets fired over this,” said Bryan Corr, who owns the property at 46 Deerhaven Road with his wife, Linda. “It has cost thousands in attorney fees. They wasted not only my money but taxpayer money.”

The Corrs are replacing a boathouse that collapsed under a snow load. The project was green lighted in a complicated approval process and the work was three-quarters done when the DES called a halt under a contention that the building was too tall.

Corr said the one-story structure is built on a slope, so one side is about 15-feet high, and the other side, 27 feet, still well under the town’s 32-foot height restriction.

In its May 22 ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the DES argument that it had the right to restrict the structure to the 17-foot height of the original boathouse.

“We agree with the Corrs that DES did not have the authority to limit the height of their structure,” the court said in its ruling.

Furthermore, the court wrote in the unanimous decision, "DES has failed to demonstrate, particularly in the circumstances of this case, how height has any relation to the protection of the public waters and the adjacent shoreland."​

The 18-foot by 32-foot structure has a footprint equal to that of the old boathouse.

Corr said a neighbor’s complaint seemed to drive the DES efforts against his project, which was approved by the local zoning board and the state board that oversees water pollution control, the Wetlands Council.

The DES appealed the council’s decision to the Supreme Court.

“To take it to the Supreme Court was ridiculous,” Corr said.

“I didn't do anything here that I wasn't supposed to do. That's the frustration on my part. This was carried on for three years and I couldn’t work on it.

“I want people to see the DES overstepped their bounds. They tried to do somebody a favor.”

In its ruling, the court said: "We remand the matter to the council with instructions to grant the Corrs' appeal and to vacate the DES' administrative order, which relied solely on the height violation." 

Associate Attorney General James Boffetti had a one-sentence comment.

"We have reviewed the Court’s order and will ensure compliance with its directives as quickly as possible," he said. 

The Corrs plan to use the structure as a game room. The original building was used for storage, including a boat, but it was on dry land and not directly on the lake. The new project is 10 feet further back from the lake.

Corr said the new location is better for neighbors’ view lines toward the water, and is more convenient for him.

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