Home > Explore Data & Reports > Visual Impact Assessment of Small Docks and Piers: Theory and Practice
Primary Contact(s): ruth.kelty@noaa.gov


Bliven, S., and R. Kelty. 2005. Visual Impact Assessment of Small Docks and Piers: Theory and Practice. NOAA Coastal Ocean Program Decision Analysis Series 25. Silver Spring, MD. 42 pp.

Data/Report Type:

NOAA Technical Memorandum

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From a manager’s perspective, oftentimes the publicly held concerns related to small docks and piers are not really related to the environment. They may be more related to visual impacts and aesthetic concerns, a sense of over-development of the shore, or simply change. While individuals may hold personal aesthetic values related to small docks in general or an individual structure in particular, techniques have evolved that appear to provide reproducible, predictive assessments of the visual impacts and aesthetic values of an area and how those might change with development, including an increase in numbers of small docks. These assessments may be used to develop regulatory or non-regulatory methods for the management of small docks based on state or community standards. Visual impact assessments are increasingly used in the regulatory review of proposed development—although this process is still in its infancy as regards small docks and piers. Some political jurisdictions have established visual impact or aesthetic standards as relate to docks and others are in the process of investigating how to go about such an effort. This paper is intended to provide an overview of: 1. The legal bases for developing visual impact or aesthetic standards, 2. Visual impact analysis techniques, 3. Capabilities at the local and state level to develop and implement visual impact or aesthetic standards, 4. Examples of existing management programs that incorporate visual impacts or aesthetics, 5. Types of mitigation available, and 6. Case Studies of the implementation or judicial review of management decisions based on visual impacts.

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