Submitted by stricly_business t3_z1j8ta in Maine

My wife and I were thinking about getting some land away from the city to use as a little weekend getaway. We can't afford much of a cabin or permanent structure in the near future so we were looking into yurts, but the zoning laws are all over the place and hard to understand. Has anyone had success putting a yurt on some land without any issues?



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LaChanz t1_ixbav2f wrote

Many rural areas in Maine have very lax or even non existing zoning laws. Try more central or northern areas.


indyaj t1_ixbemnl wrote

If by "rural areas in Maine" you mean unorganized areas of Maine, then they are not construction free-for-alls. They operate under LUPC (formerly LURC).


Candygramformrmongo t1_ixblkf9 wrote

True, but generally still a lot less restrictive than most towns that do have zoning.


indyaj t1_ixcy279 wrote

It depends on where you are. There's definitely zoning though. Check out their site. They even have zoning maps. And then there are rules and regs for each of the zones. You know, just like a town.

My point is that you shouldn't tell someone that there are no laws when there are. You're gonna get them in trouble.


LaChanz t1_ixdn34k wrote

Pretty sure I didn't say it was lawless. It's just not Southern Maine. In my town I could put up a building such as a garage or shed and not ask any permissions. My point was that there is much of the state you can set your yurt and not ask permission. Of course waterfront and septic issues would apply.


indyaj t1_ixdtzxn wrote

I don't live in a town so I'm under lupc. There are trees I can't cut down and there is no way I could build a garage without a massive pile of red tape. I'm in western Maine.

Edit: you did imply there's no zoning.


[deleted] t1_ixbiaha wrote



stricly_business OP t1_ixe65xg wrote

Nice! Thanks for sharing your experience. We'll definitely reach out to the town. We just wanted to make sure it is possible some places.


[deleted] t1_ixf9wcw wrote



stricly_business OP t1_ixfsw6s wrote

This is great info, thanks for sharing! It would just be a weekend getaway for my wife and our kid, but we do want to make it spacious enough to be comfortable, so a 30 ft min sounds reason.


Ebomb1 t1_ixc8vn5 wrote

When you're looking at land, make an appt with the code enforcement officer whereever you are to ask your questions. Then double check with the state. Will give you an idea what you're allowed where so you don't buy and then run into problems.


jakey_P t1_ixbafmm wrote

Nah I usually put mine on the water


Ebomb1 t1_ixc8oaw wrote

search the sub, a couple posted their build album just the other week.


Skjeggape t1_ixdc3o8 wrote

I looked at a yurt, but they are not cheap, nor particularly expandable or a whole lot better than a $200 bell tent (IMHO). especially if you're heading towards a cabin in the future. It all depends on the land you get and how undeveloped it is, but in our case it started with access. We needed a driveway permit, which starts the dialog with the CEO. In fact, as soon as you buy the land, you'll be interacting with the town folks over things like taxes. You can probably scoot by a few years "camping" for weekend getaways (we did, with a 16ft bell tent+cots) , but pretty quickly there will be questions about how you're handling the waste water disposal situation.


Sufficient_Risk1684 t1_ixdj3bc wrote

Exactly. A yurt will cost you much more then a cabin or camper.


mymaineaccount46 t1_ixj8y2f wrote

Not for the same amount of interior space. I compared both options and a yurt was far cheaper for the size.


Wald0_17 t1_ixcowhh wrote

Can't speak for the legality of it, but if I recall, there used to be a place in Limington or thereabouts that built them.


Tony-Flags t1_ixdbmym wrote

Really is town by town- some places count them as temporary structures, we looked into it in our town. They said as long as it wasn't within 200' of a waterway (that is, in a designated Special Resource Area- a legal term for where building restrictions are more, well... restrictive I guess is the best term- look for that language) and it was on a "movable" platform then it would be fine. Don't need to actually be able to move the platform easily, but it should be on skids or wheels with a hitching point. If its considered a 'permanent, immovable structure', then we needed permitting.

That said, getting a permit isn't the end of the world, its not costly and if you just say, I want to put a yurt on my property, they will probably be fine with it. There's no guarantees or absolutes when it comes to small town offices. They might want to you install some sort of outhouse system, but you will want one anyways.


neuromonkey t1_ixecxig wrote

Maine recently passed a (very brief) tiny house law. One bit said that cities & towns cannot make laws more restrictive than the state law, and another says that a town can't inspect a tiny house within the first six months. I don't know if the law has been modified, but you could call it a tiny house.


mmaalex t1_ixh4fmq wrote

Lots of small towns have no zoning outside of the state mandated shoreland zoning, and septic permitting.

If you pick one of those towns just read their shoreland zoning laws, and pick a spot where you can legally build without needing to get planning board/code enforcement officer approval, and go for it. In the more rural areas of the state plenty of people have cheaper camps that are sheds, yurts, permanently parked campers, etc with no zoning issues.

Typically shoreland zoning covers 250ft to great ponds (10+ acres), and 100ft from streams/small ponds. There are two basic model zoning plans that the system put out in the early 90's, and towns adopted one or the other with some changes, so it does vary from town to town. Inside the zone it can be possible to build, depending on exactly what you want to do, but it all requires permits and approvals.

If you want an outhouse it will require a Septic permit, and if you build in the shoreland zone mentioned above they will likely make you get at least a gray water leachfield permitted and built. Composting toilets, and other similar systems don't require a permit.


stricly_business OP t1_ixh6wrv wrote

Wow this was extremely helpful, thanks for sharing! It sounds like a small town will be our best option. We'd like something near the south of the state to be close to home, so hopefully there are some towns down there that fit the bill. Time to do some research!


mmaalex t1_ixh8g53 wrote

There are however, property prices tend to be pretty high down south. The further you get away from Boston/Portland the cheaper stuff gets. Once you get out of the weekend driving range of Boston prices drop off a cliff pretty quick.

There are waterfront camp lots in interior Washington County (vicinity of Rt 9) available for <$50k.

I've found that can be a good way to find cheaper rural acreage. Generally lower priced listing don't get the full MLS treatment because of the cost of listing.


stricly_business OP t1_ixhjj9x wrote

Unfortunately, we are one of those weekend city folks from Boston, so we are kinda forced to look down south. I'll definitely check out - thanks for all the tips!


TheMobyDicks t1_ixcsu35 wrote

Even if you want to put it in a town that has zoning that disallows it, one can always get a variance if the local board is pliable.


mymaineaccount46 t1_ixj8lfc wrote

Hey I currently live in a yurt in a small town near Bangor. Space wise it was a lot cheaper than a similar sized cabin. It got permitted as a raised camping platform, really no issue with permitting. This is a small town with a really relaxed view on code enforcement though. We were told to start building, by the code enforcement guy, even before they had approved us.

If you have any questions or want any information I'd be glad to answer!


stricly_business OP t1_ixjt05a wrote

Awesome! Sounds like raised camping permits are the way to go. Glad to hear it worked for you! Thanks for sharing!


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