The Mid-Coast School of Technology withdrew its application to erect a fence that would cut off public access to the shore behind the building.

MCST Director Elizabeth Fisher sent a letter May 1 to the Rockland Planning Board withdrawing the application that sparked controversy for most of the past year. The withdrawal also covers the proposal for outdoor seating.

The letter did not give a reason for the withdrawal. Fisher declined Tuesday to comment on the letter.

Assistant Code Enforcement Officer Wyatt Philbrook said the code officer was in talks with the school about separating the fence from the occupancy permit.

The city has held up issuing a permanent occupancy permit to the school.

The withdrawal does not prevent the school from re-submitting the proposal at a later time.

The fence's fate was in limbo following a Nov. 19 Planning Board meeting which ended with sharp words between the board and school officials. The board ruled the application submitted by the school was incomplete.

"I'm disappointed. I want a better board," MCST Board Vice Chair Robert Duke said at the conclusion of the Nov. 19 meeting.

Planning Board Chairman Erik Laustsen responded by saying, "This is Rockland, not Rockport. You don't have to keep looking down on us."

The school came before the Planning Board in July 2019 with a fence plan that would limit public access to a trail along the waterfront side of its property, despite a plea from city officials to allow the harbor trail to use that stretch.

The MCST Board plan calls for erecting a fence on the north side of the property line extending to near the water — the side abutting Snow Marine Park — with a gate that could be opened when school is not in session.

At the Aug. 20 Rockland Planning Board meeting, the city board voted to require the fence to be installed on three sides and no closer to the water than the base of the man-made slope, which would allow a path to be created on the waterfront side of the fence. In addition, it directed the school to have good-faith negotiations with the city about allowing continued public access along the waterfront trail.

The school began having posts for the fence installed despite no permit being issued.

Rockland Code Enforcement Officer John Root warned the Region 8 Cooperative Board in a Sept. 10 stop work order it risked fines of $2,500 per day and revocation of its temporary permit to use the building if it failed to comply with his order to stop building the fence.

School officials said the fence was necessary for the safety of students.

Duke said last year the school allowed public access in the back of the property when the old school building was closer to the road. The new school is located closer to the water and the property in back is used for outdoor learning.