Choose Your Future, A Series to Save Newfound Lake
Part 5: Who Owns the View?
by Boyd Smith, Newfound Lake Region Association Executive Director
This is your land and water – to protect what you love you have to take an active part. One of the most important – and least understood – ways to maintain and enhance Newfound’s beauty and economic health is viewshed protection.
A viewshed is what you see when looking out a window, gazing across the lake, or enjoying a broad vista from the top of Mount Cardigan. Newfound’s beauty comes in large measure from hundreds of acres of undisturbed forests and ridgeline that frame the lake and reflect the moods of the sky.
For many years, development around Newfound was slow and small – quaint cabins that blended with the forest, lakefront, and hills. As Newfound’s popularity grew, lakeside cabins became larger and reflected their owners’ more urban lifestyle. With waterfront property scarce, roads and lots have extended up hillsides for epic views of the lake and surrounding land. Where only a house or two is present on the northern hills, other parts of the watershed are seeing unprecedented growth, and the difference is clear. Even a single building, if prominently placed, has a disproportionate impact on the viewshed.
So, who owns the view? This question came up when cell towers were introduced. Around Newfound, it got personal when the Wild Meadows wind project was proposed. Now, the Newfound viewshed is undergoing incremental, but substantial, impacts from residential development in highly visible locations. The NLRA consistently advocates for low-impact development that blends with the natural surroundings to maintain property values and respect public resources.
With our watershed partners, we are drafting a model ordinance for towns to consider adopting if they want to protect their views. The approach is simple: stay off ridges and hill tops; minimize lot clearing and retain trees that screen your house; and use earth-tone and natural exterior colors. In addition, avoid using reflective glass, and use only low-level, indirect lighting.
Ways to Protect Your View
Following our Good Neighbor Bill of Rights philosophy and taking a few simple steps, you can have a view and be nearly invisible to the rest of the world, thus stewarding Newfound’s beauty, as well as being a part of what unites us around Newfound.
Good Neighbor Bill of Rights
As a property owner, I recognize my right to use my land in accordance with existing rules.
As a good neighbor, I equally recognize my responsibility to respect my neighbors’ rights by not allowing any of my actions or impacts, such as stormwater runoff, air pollution, light, or noise to leave my property.
In addition, I commit to build in harmony with my surroundings to preserve the views of the Newfound watershed.