ROCKLAND — The Rockland City Council will hold a hearing next week for the public to comment on the proposed expansion of the Safe Harbor Marinas’ marina.

Councilors were in agreement they would not issue a statement to the state in opposition to the project. Opponents to the expansion have urged the Council to take such a step.

Councilors discussed the proposed marina expansion during their Oct. 4 meeting. The hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 13, prior to the start of the Council’s regular monthly meeting. Councilor Nate Davis recommended the session be held to allow the public to comment.

Mayor Ed Glaser said he contacted the head of the state’s submerged land bureau, which is considering issuing an extended lease for the marina expansion, and she said the bureau could have people come down and walk the property to see its scope.

Councilor Louise MacLellan-Ruf said the current opposition is a case of short-term memory. She said the City Council held multiple meetings on the marina expansion when it was first proposed by Yachting Solutions. She said when issues were raised, the plan was amended to meet the concerns.

Formal designation of a southern channel was approved, she said.

We need to get a commitment that the boardwalk will remain open, MacLellan-Ruf said, and that appropriate landscaping is done. This is done by creating a working relationship with companies in the community, she said.

Glaser said the city harbor master has authority to order any large boat that extends into the channel to be moved.

The mayor said the plan is quite modified from the original proposal.

“It takes into account a lot of the things that the, I’ll use the word whiners, whiners were coming up with,” Glaser said.

He said when large boats are there, they are not going to block that much of the view, but said it will block some of the view. In addition to room for five large vessels, there will be space for 30 additional smaller boats, the mayor pointed out.

“Really what it comes down to is someone wants to invest money in a facility that is already here. Do we say you can’t do it because we like things exactly the way they are?” Glaser said.

Councilor Ben Dorr said he considers it a dangerous stance for a community to require a company to attend hearings, jump through hoops and then at the 11th hour, tell them they can’t do something.

“I may not be in favor of significant displays of wealth, which this will be, but Rockland Harbor is big,” Dorr said.

The project would include dredging an area 138,000 square feet, according to the application. The expansion of the float system would include four 150-foot long fingers to the east of the main pier; a 90-foot finger to the west; and both a 115-foot long and a 172-foot string of floats to the west.

Both the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the state Bureau of Parks and Lands within the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry are reviewing the proposed marina expansion.

Councilor Sarah Austin urged citizens to contact the state. She said the state would likely give as much weight more to many residents than the City Council. Austin also said one concern the city could address is to monitor the water quality by Sandy Beach to make sure the large number of vessels at the expanded marina would not result in pollution.

Councilor Davis said while he was opposed to the original marina expansion plan, the current proposal is much improved.

Safe Harbor Marinas hopes to have the expansion completed within a year, with dredging to be done during the winter.

Safe Harbor Marinas of Dallas, Texas, purchased Dec. 30, 2020 nearly five acres owned by Rockland Harbor Park LLC that Yachting Solutions was leasing on the Rockland waterfront. Safe Harbors also acquired properties owned by Yachting Solutions Dec. 31 on New County Road and Pleasant Street in Rockland.

Safe Harbor owns and operates 107 marinas across the country, which serves about 40,000 boats across 22 states.

The company held a public informational meeting, a requirement of the DEP application process July 2. Mayor Glaser and Councilor MacLellan-Ruf attended that meeting held at the gazebo on Safe Harbor’s property.

Back in 2018, Yachting Solutions first proposed to expand its marina. That was met by strong opposition from many residents, who said it would reduce the view corridor from Rockland Harbor Park and could impact the south channel in Rockland Harbor. There was also support voiced by other residents for the development.

A series of meetings were held in late 2018 and in 2019.

The drawing of the proposed Safe Harbor Marinas expansion plan.