Fishermen see snags in proposed harbor changes
Lincolnville — Local fishermen turned out to oppose changes to the town's harbor ordinance recommended by the Harbor Committee when the Board of Selectmen met Monday, April 14.
The suggested changes were presented by Harbor Committee Chairman Shane LaPrade, and were also available on a handout at the meeting. LaPrade explained the recommendations had come out of the committee's annual review of the harbor ordinance and the Lincolnville pier and float usage plan, as required by the ordinance.
The committee suggested standardizing the appearance of moorings in the harbor at Lincolnville Beach, specifying that mooring balls must be white with a horizontal blue band and have the number in 3-inch numerals above the blue band, according to Coast Guard standards.
It was also recommended that a table of minimum mooring standards be incorporated into the ordinance. The committee had voted to incorporate the standards included in the Maine Harbormasters Association Guide, LaPrade said, but Harbor Master Mike Hutchings felt the standards were inadequate for Lincolnville. The committee asked Hutchins to produce standards he thought would be more suitable.
Finally, the committee suggested changing the time limit on guest moorings from four hours to 24 hours, in order to “allow recreational vessels the opportunity to stop in Lincolnville to reprovision, patronize our restaurants or lodging establishments and promote the benefits of Lincolnville Beach as a stopping point,” according to the printed recommendations.
Hutchings objected to the suggestions regarding mooring standards and guest moorings. On mooring standards, he said, “Our moorings are way overbuilt for the size of the harbor,” because it is shallow, exposed and small and the depth varies significantly from one area to another. He wanted to keep the specifications for moorings on a case-by-case basis, where he recommends the appropriate type of mooring depending on the boat and where in the harbor it will be moored.
Board of Selectmen Chairman Ladleah Dunn noted that, while Hutchins is very knowledgeable about the harbor, sooner or later he will retire. She asked him to distill his knowledge and experience into mooring guidelines for the benefit of future harbormasters.
Hutchings also opposed changing the time limit for guest moorings, saying he felt four hours was enough time to go shopping or have a meal. He said he has been liberal about extending the time limit when asked by boat owners.
“Twenty-four hours is a long time. I think it's workable the way it is,” he said.
He noted that there are two guest moorings; a third mooring is out of service now, and he said replacing it would be less expensive than repairing it.
Selectman Jason Trundy suggested replacing the third mooring, and increasing the time limit on one of the three to 12 hours.
“This ordinance took a long time to draft, and I think it fits Lincolnville very well,” Hutchings said.
Fisherman Richie Osgood opposed standardizing the mooring balls, saying it was unnecessary and the balls were expensive to replace. He supported the idea of having one guest mooring with a longer time limit.
Assistant Harbormaster Kendall Smith also opposed changing the requirements for mooring balls. He said in order to paint the blue stripe on his, he would have to take the mooring out of service for two or three days.
Selectman Rosey Gerry suggested that the Board take more time to review the Harbor Committee's proposed changes, and Dunn asked LaPrade to have his committee refine its recommendations and work with Hutchins on guidelines for moorings and present them at a future Board meeting.
Also generating some heat was a proposal by Capt. Ray Williamson, co-owner of Maine Windjammer Cruises, to offer day sails aboard the 50-foot pinky schooner Summertime out of Lincolnville Beach. Williamson's company also owns three schooners that sail out of Camden -- Mercantile, Mistress and Grace Bailey.
Williamson said he has entered into a partnership with his daughter and son-in-law, Lincolnville residents, who will run the operation there. Summertime will offer two- and four-hour day trips, as well as one overnight trip to Islesboro daily. There will be three or four outings each day, he said.
The schooner will be moored in the outer harbor, and Williamson has purchased a lobster boat to serve as a launch for ferrying passengers to and from the Summertime. The lobster boat can take six passengers at a time, while the schooner holds 18, so several trips will be required to bring a full load of passengers aboard.
The lobster boat may also be used for lobstering demonstrations or other trips, Williamson said. He said he expects to start running tours in mid-June and end around Labor Day.
He said he hoped to “give people a reason to stay in Lincolnville a little bit longer.”
Osgood raised several objections to the plan, suggesting that the mooring Williamson planned to use until his application for a mooring of his own is approved might not be adequate. The mooring belongs to Rob Newcomb, and Hutchings said he believed it could be made adequate for the schooner.
Osgood also said there might be too much traffic in the harbor for the launch to pull in, and questioned how passengers would be transported on land and where they would wait for the launch, given the level of activity on the pier during the summer.
“The congestion is great at times,” he said.
Hutchings agreed that congestion in the harbor was a problem. “To add another whole thing, it is going to be a challenge,” he said.
He noted that there is a pedestrian staging area outside the traffic flow on the pier, with signs to direct passengers to it. Hutchins also said Williamson was aware of the situation in the harbor and would have to be flexible to maneuver around other business being carried on there. He added that he thought it would become clear whether the day sail operation was workable at the Beach by the end of Summertime's first summer.
Selectmen were not asked to take any action on WIlliamson's proposal.
In other business, Town Administrator David Kinney told the Board the town had received a $3,500 grant from the Secretary of State's office to defray the cost of making the Town Office handicapped accessible.
Kinney also reported that Wes and Emily Dean, whose property on South Cobbtown Road the town acquired for nonpayment of taxes, were ready to close on the parcel.
Selectmen received a final proposal from resident Alex Kuli to relocate part of the unpaved portion of Fernald's Neck Road. Kuli had appeared before the Board twice before, and had been working with engineering firm Gartley and Dorsky of Camden, as well as Kinney and other town officials, to develop the final plan. The board accepted the plan and directed the town attorney to prepare the warrant article for the approval of town meeting voters, along with other necessary paperwork.
Dick McLaughlin, vice chairman of the quasi-municipal Lincolnville Sewer District, appeared before the Board to ask that the sewer district be allowed to hold its meetings in the Town Office. Since it is not a town committee, it does not automatically have that right. Selectmen asked Kinney to research how a building use policy might be written to permit the sewer district to meet there without opening the Town Office to the general public.
The Board approved a schedule of land use fees that keeps the fees at their current level, and renewed liquor licenses for the Cellardoor Winery and the Lobster Pound Restaurant.