We are fortunate to have a pair of nesting loons on Franklin Pierce Lake. Usually one or two eggs are laid in late May or June, and incubation of eggs generally lasts 26-28 days.  If the eggs are lost, the pair may renest, often in the same general location. Frank Malinoski took the following picture on June 13, 2015 as our loons had begun nesting on the island in front of Breezy Point.  Sad news as of July 7 as it appears something bad happened and the loons are no longer testing.  Loon experts say that it is lucky if loons have chicks once every three or four years.

loonnest2015

 

Flood Plain: Is your lake front property in FEMA’s flood plain zone as defined in their new 2009 maps? This may have been triggered by the fact that in 2009 FEMA created new flood plain maps which show some areas to be in a flood plain that were not previously

FEMA Maps: FEMA

To find out if you might be affected go to: GRANITView.  At this site, specify ‘Flood Plains (DFIRMS)’ and ‘Orthophotography’  to have the Flood Plain Map overlay a photo layer showing actual buildings. Once these layers are specified you can zoom in to your area of interest by double clicking multiple times.

Some people who have recently been in the process of buying or refinancing property around the lake have been told by their bank that they are in a flood plain and need flood insurance. If this happens to you, the bank may require you to get flood insurance which is quite costly.

If you question the validity of the FEMA map you may be able to avoid flood insurance in the future by having a surveyor do a survey to get a Certificate of Elevation. Depending on the results, you may be able to send a letter to FEMA applying for a map amendment (LOMA – Letter Of Map Amendment).

Some helpful links and contacts are:

New Hampshire’s Floodplain Management Program  fact sheet

New Hampshire Floodplain Management Office assistance:  603-271-1762 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FEMAs Description of LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment) process

If you wish to speak to someone on the lake who has been through the process of filing for an amendment, give Rick Smith a call (588-6836).  He has kindly offered to share his experience with anyone in a similar situation in the hopes that it might make the process easier and minimize their expense. He also shared the following:

It can be costly to have this survey done. Some of the cost can be minimized by knowing where the marker related to the datum established by the US Coast and Geodetic Survey (which can be related to the base flood elevation by survey measurement) is located. The marker is located “on the north side of route 9 is a metal disk set flush on a 3’ by 6’ ledge exposed above grade about 6 inches. The marker has ‘NHDOT’ labels on the surface. Someone has painted a yellow circle around the marker. The marker is located a short distance west, less than 100’ as I recall, from the Jackman Shore Rd and it is about 10 feet north of the pavement and maybe 3 feet higher than the pavement.”

 

A Board of Director member, Bob Ziman, has made contact with PSNH and will serve as a liaison between lake owners and PSNH.  PSNH provided the follow chart that they use to target how they adjust the water level in the lake and as the text states it is a guide and the actual water level will vary dependent upon conditions.  If you have questions for PSNH please direct them via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will attempt to get the questions answered.

 The construction of the Jackman Hydro Facility by PSNH in 1926 included the formation of the Franklin Pierce Reservoir and acquisition of appropriate Flowage Rights over adjoining property. This chart, which evolved from earlier similar examples, is used as a seasonal guide to control the level of the reservoir to maximize renewable hydro generation and prevent overtopping due to spring rains and snow melt while attempting to accomodate the recreational benefits the reservoir provides..

 Actual pond level varies from this ideal due to weather conditions,operation and maintenance considerations. For instance, very wet conditions will actually be reflected by higher than usual reservoir levels and earlier drawdowns may be necessary to facilitate dam repair. The company endeavors to follow this as a seasonal guide, but makes no representation that the chart will describe actual pond level at any point in any particular season for reasons noted above.

PSNH website

 

The laws and ordinances that apply to owners around Franklin Pierce Lake are at the State and Town level.  Since our lake is located in the towns of Hillsborough and Antrim local ordances will apply to owners in those towns.

 

The State of New Hampshire has a Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act (CSPA) that "establishes minimum standards for activities within the Protected Shoreland that are designed to protect the water quality of the state’s larger water bodies and to fulfill the state’s role as trustee of those waters.  Please visit their website for more information.

 

The Town of Antrim has two zoning ordinances that apply to lake owners in Antrim.

The first is called Article VIII that defines a Lakefront Residential District.  This ordinance "is intended to protect certain ponds and lakes from excessive density and development with particular emphasis on: (1) protecting the water quality and adjacent shorelines of these lakes and ponds, and (2) maintaining and/or ensuring the privacy and tranquillity of those residents who own shoreline or waterfront property. The following lakes and ponds are included in this district: Gregg Lake, Franklin Pierce Lake, Willard Pond, Steele’s Pond, Rye Pond, and Campbell Pond."

The second is called Article XI and defines The Wetlands District.  It " is intended to protect the public health, safety, general welfare and property. This ordinance section for wetlands is intended:

 

  1. To be a guide in the use of wetlands in Antrim,
  2. To aid in the protection of persons and property from the danger of floods by preserving natural floodwater storage areas,
  3. To encourage those uses that can appropriately and safely be located in wetlands areas.

 

The Town of Hillsborough has zoning ordinances that are on their website in the section called Town Codes.  The relevant Articles and Tables have been copied and included below.

 

§ 229-10.  Stream and shoreline protection.

No building shall be located within 75 feet of the average mean high water level of any lake, pond or stream with a normal year-round flow. Boathouses are exempt from this provision. See Chapter 160 for the special two-hundred-foot setback from Loon Pond, and see § 229-36, Waterfront development, of this chapter, for additional regulations applicable to lots on lakes and ponds.

§ 229-36.  Waterfront development. 

A.  Purpose. The purpose of this section is to provide guidelines for the development of lakefront and backland with access to lakes and ponds so as to prevent overcrowding, to protect the shoreline and water quality and to control the granting of easements by waterfront lot owners for the purpose of access to water frontage. 

B.  Standards for waterfront development. Rights to gain access to a water body through or by means of any waterfront land in the Town of Hillsborough shall not be created or attached to any real estate, except in accordance with the standards set forth below and subject to Planning Board approval. Any owner granting rights for waterfront use and access shall comply with the following standards: 

(1)   There shall be a minimum frontage on the water of 50 feet per dwelling unit or per lot, whichever is more stringent. 

(2)   There shall be provided 400 square feet of beach area per dwelling unit or per lot, whichever is more stringent. 

(3)   Parking area in addition to the beach area shall be provided on the basis of 200 square feet for each dwelling unit planned. 

(4)   Docks may be permitted on the basis of one slip per 15 feet of shoreline.   

C.  Setbacks from shoreline. As required by § 229-10, no building shall be located within 75 feet of the shoreline, i.e., average mean high water level. 

D.  Loon Pond. Development on Loon Pond shall comply with the special two-hundred-foot protective setback established by Chapter 160 of the Code of the Town of Hillsborough.

 

Table 1

Lot Area and Frontage Requirements

Rural District

Town of Hillsborough

 

Type of Use

(for each building)

Minimum Frontage

(feet)

Minimum Lot Size

(acres)

     

  Single-dwelling units

200

2

  Two-dwelling units

200

2

  Three-dwelling units

200

3

  Four-dwelling units

200

3

  Commercial uses

200

2

  Other uses1

200

2

     

Lake Lots2

   

  Single-dwelling units

100

1

  Two-dwelling units

100

1

  Three-dwelling units

150

2

  Four-dwelling units

200

3

  

 

NOTES:

1 Other uses include rooming house with owner or agent in residence, residential use with home sales or professional office, church, school, etc.

2 For lake lots, the front of the lot is towards the lake, and the front setback is measured from the average mean high water level.

 

Table 3

Setback and Coverage Requirements

Town of Hillsborough

 

 

 

Minimum Setbacks

Maximum Coverage (percent)

District and Type of Use

Front

(feet)

Side

(feet)

Rear

(feet)

Residential, Village Residential, Lower Village Residential and Commercial Districts

       

     Dwellings

30

15

20

25

     Commercial Uses

50

20

25

30

     Other uses1

50

20

25

30

Rural District

       

     Dwellings

30

25

50

25

     Commercial Uses

50

25

50

30

     Other uses1

50

25

50

30

     Lake Lots 2

75

25

25

20

         

 

NOTES:

1 Other uses include rooming house with owner or agent in residence, residential use with home sales or professional office, church, school, etc.

2 For lake lots, the front of the lot is towards the lake and the front setback is measured from the average mean high water level.

loons

 

Franklin Pierce Lake, also known as Jackman Reservoir, was formed in 1926 when Jackman Dam and Power Plant was built thereby flooding a section of the North Branch River.

 

The lake covers an area of approximately 519 acres of which about 1/3 is in Antrim and 2/3 is in Hillsborough. In rough measures it is about 2 miles long and a half mile wide. The mean depth is 4.6 meters while the maximum depth is 9.6 meters. A map is available at NH Fish and Game website.

It is considered to be a ‘warm water fishery’. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has determined that the lake contains Northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch, white perch, bluegill, common sunfish, and brown bullhead (hornpout; catfish). The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department also stock it with a small number of rainbow trout and brown trout each year.

The Jackman Power Station is operated by PSNH and controls the water level of the lake at the dam. They generally lower the lake each fall starting gradually after Labor Day eventually lowering the level of the lake about 20 feet by January. They allow the spring melt off and spring rains to bring the water level back up to normal (about 770 feet above sea level) by Memorial Day.

Jackman 1

Boating is allowed but as with all lakes, power boat operators must have a Safe Boater Certificate and they must keep their speed down to steerage speed whenever within 150’ feet of shore.  Hillsborough’s Manahan Park is the only public boat ramp and beach on the lake.

Fortunately the lake has had no known infestation to date of the exotic invasive plants that have caused problems for many New Hampshire lakes but this is a continuing threat.