Sponsored Post: Real Estate Confidential — Homes with docks

Bring your boat!

Instead of going through the hassle of applying for a permit to build a dock, just buy a house that already has one!

Weekly chit-chat about new listings, sales or other insider info on the Martha’s Vineyard real estate market, by Fred Roven, Martha’s Vineyard Buyer Agents.

Building a dock on Martha’s Vineyard, whether ocean front or pond front, presents many environmental, regulatory and design obstacles before construction can begin. Local zoning authorities issue permits for construction but are regulated by local conservation commissions, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the state Department of Environmental Protection and harbor districts — particularly in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.

In Massachusetts, the construction of small docks, piers, and related structures requires permits or authorization under two laws, the Public Waterfront Act and the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. These laws were designed to protect the public’s ownership rights and access to the water, and along its shore and to ensure the environmental and public health benefits that wetlands provide.

These groups are primarily concerned with

  •   Protecting rare species habitat
  •   Maintaining proper water circulation.
  •   Maintaining adequate light to preserve the productivity of wetlands vegetation

If you propose to construct a small dock that is an accessory to a residential use, and not for commercial use, you may qualify for a simplified Chapter 91 Waterways license (from MA DEP) provided the structure is less than 600 square feet and water-dependent with no fill required.


The process is by no means simple and fewer and fewer permits are issued as we have greater understanding of the environmental effects of any water-related structures. Very briefly, the process is:

  1. As mentioned above, determine your structure will be less than 600 square feet
  2. Provide notice application to Local Conservation Commission, Board of Selectman, Planning Board and Zoning Authority;
  3. Send notice of application by certified mail to any interested parties, abutters and the landowner, if not the applicant;
  4. Publish a public notice in a newspaper of local circulation that includes name, address, project location, and description

If, however, you propose to install a floating dock, float or raft that is bottom-anchored, seasonal and not permanently pile-supported, it may be authorized by the local harbormaster or other authorized municipal official through an annual Section 10A permit, instead of MassDEP. No other Chapter 91 authorization is required, as long as the locally issued annual Harbormaster permit remains valid.

You will want to hire an engineering firm familiar with all DEP and local conservation and environmental concerns. They will be handling all of the permitting and concerns. A good place to begin your own research is A Guide to Permitting Small, Pile-Supported Docks and Piers


In order to avoid all the permitting issues, many homes on Martha’s Vineyard come with docks.

Among the best opportunities for a home with a deep water dock is located at 32 Temahigan Avenue in East Chop listed by Point B Realty. The home, originally built in 1870, was meticulously renovated from top to bottom in the year 2000, under the direction of noted architect, Joseph Dick and island builder, Everett Whorton. Today, this luxurious home maintains all of the original character and architectural details of the era, including beautiful coffered ceilings, gorgeous custom wood paneling, and finely crafted millwork throughout. A 750 SF waterfront boathouse completes the package. Priced at $4,950,000.


If Katama with its proximity to Edgartown and a private beach is your preference, a rare find at 82 Turkeyland Cove listed by Point B Realty on the Edgartown Great Pond is for you. This property boasts a PRIVATE DOCK located on the Edgartown Great Pond, which is ideal for exploring by boat, kayak, canoe or paddle board There are only three docks on the entire Edgartown Great Pond — so this is a very rare and valuable amenity. The property includes deeded access to a private association South Shore beach which is accessible by boat. Priced at $5,395,000.


Located on 6.4 acres of woods on the shores of Lake Tashmoo is 275 South Farm Road listed by Jampel Associates. The house has five comfortably sized bedrooms, two of which have their own outside entrances and private decks. The master bedroom and bath occupies the entire second floor of the house, and a first floor private screened porch overlooks the dock. Priced at $5,700,000.


If you are ready for a construction project, the property at 35 Cove Meadow on Chappy listed by Sandpiper Realty is perfect. The property includes a shared dock and boathouse and sits on pristine and undisturbed 6.9 acres surrounded by conservation, abutting the Royal and Ancient Chappaquiddick Links golf course, and offering views of Cape Poge Bay. Priced at $1,739,000.

All currently listed homes with existing docks can be viewed at Martha’s Vineyard Homes with Docks.

For more Real Estate Confidentials, click here.