ROCKLAND — The Maine Board of Environmental Protection rejected an appeal Thursday afternoon, June 16, from Rockland area residents who oppose the planned expansion of the Safe Harbor Marinas’ marina.

BEP member Steven Pelletier of Topsham said he saw nothing wrong with what the staff of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection approved for the expansion of the marina.

“You would see what you would expect to see in a harbor,” Pelletier said.

Another Board member asked if there was any harbor in Maine where people would look out from the shore and say there were too many boats.

The BEP hearing was held in Augusta and broadcast live for the public via Zoom.

Attorney Jason Theobold of Portland, who represented the local residents, said the Maine Department of Environmental Protection staff did not have sufficient information to make its recommendation to approve the marina. Theobold said the inspection of the harbor by the DEP was made in November when there were far fewer vessels.

“Seeing the harbor in the summer when the harbor is full would have given them a better idea of what the visual impact will be from the large vessels that will be at the marina,” Theobold said. He said the expansion would impact the ability to view the harbor and the Rockland Breakwater.

Safe Harbor’s attorney said Rockland Harbor is a large, commercial harbor with four marinas, two public landings, and a Coast Guard base, he maintained, and the expansion would not have a significant impact on views.

The appeal was filed Jan. 7 by 16 area residents of a decision by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Ken Wexler of Owls Head, one of the people appealing, said after the vote, “We will sit down as a group next week and decide what to do.”

The next appeal would be to court.

DEP Commissioner Melanie Loyzim signed in December 2021 an approval of a Natural Resources Protection Act permit for the expanded marina. The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry’s submerged land division issued findings and gave preliminary approval for the expansion. Final approval of that awaited the end of the public response period on Jan. 7.

Filing the letter of appeal were: Wexler, Steve Cartwright of Tenants Harbor, Nadine and Larry Bangerter of Rockland, Constance Hayes of Rockland, Rebecca Glaser of Rockport, Eileen Fitzgerald of Rockland, Kyle MacKenzie Swan of Rockland, Laurence Coe of Rockland, Ron Huber of Penobscot Bay Watch, Judy Pasqualge of Rockland, Virginia Noble of Rockland, Avis Turner of Rockland, Anne “Pinny” Beebe-Center of Rockland, Susan Beebe of Rockland, Isabella Feracci of Rockland, and Paul Rosen of Owls Head.

The appeal detailed each of the appellants concerns about the expansion. One concern listed is no approval should be granted until a signed agreement is reached to guarantee the public’s right to use the boardwalk that crosses Safe Harbor’s property.

The marina expansion was first proposed by Yachting Solutions in 2017 when it received a federal grant to help finance the expansion.

Photo by Stephen Betts