Voters to decide on inland waters mooring moratorium

By Susan Mustapich | Nov 09, 2018

CAMDEN — A special town meeting will be held on a proposed 180-day moratorium on new moorings in inland waterways, including Lake Megunticook. A date for the special town meeting will be set at the next board meeting Nov. 20.

Select Board members voted 4 to 1 Nov. 6 in favor of holding the special town meeting. Board Chairman Bob Falciani voted against the meeting, because, he said, a moratorium would not be enforceable. The vote followed a public hearing.

The discussion about protecting inland lakes and ponds from the proliferation of unregulated moorings began in Lincolnville, and was then taken up in Camden. Both towns border Lake Megunticook, and neither has any local ordinances to regulate the moorings.

Numerous residents in both towns have observed that moorings are multiplying around the Route 52 boat launch and Barrett's Cove on the Camden side of Lake Megunticook. Concerns expressed by residents and officials in both towns range from the safety of swimmers, paddle craft and boaters to the impacts on waterfront property owners.

Lincolnville residents approved a 180-day moratorium in September. The Camden Select Board held a hearing on the issue Oct. 16.

At the Nov. 6 public hearing, a number of property owners on the lake said they had missed the first hearing, and several were looking for more information. Falciani, who led the public hearing, limited back-and-forth discussion between speakers and board members.

Paul Leeper, executive director of the Megunticook Watershed Association, said the board has now heard about user conflicts with boats and moorings, and potential future conflicts. He reiterated the association's support for a moratorium, and added that he will join Lincolnville's committee. He sees the work ahead as defining the problems and recommending solutions.

McKellar asked Leeper how he would deal with the issue of new and old moorings, and how to make the moorings useful.

Leeper responded that Lake Warden Dale Dougherty has counted the moorings at Bog Bridge and Route 52. While he does not know who they belong to, he has numbers, Leeper said.

Leeper agreed that the moorings typically placed off the docks of the shorefront properties will be difficult to document. He has not seen anyone place a mooring outside of the shorefront properties, other than at Bog Bridge and the Route 52 boat ramp. He clarified that the association's intention is to create regulations so that there is a process and commonsense solutions, not to stop moorings from being placed.

Stephanie Farnum said her father uses the Route 52 public boat ramp. She was concerned about the moorings popping up around the ramp, in the way of people who use the facility. She said it is difficult to get a boat lined up to access the ramp, especially when the water is low, and that the moorings are causing trouble.

Lakefront property owner Andrew Stancioff expressed concern about islands on the lake that are being developed. One in view of his property has a large dock with three boats. He estimates it could accommodate four to five boats. Five lots can be developed on Crane Island, he said, and he is concerned that each could have several boats. He said there is not enough room for 15 boats in this part of the lake, which is in a cove. He asked if any ordinance developed would be restricted to moorings, or if it would also cover dock size.

Development Director Jeremy Martin said there are requirements regarding dock size in the shoreland zoning ordinance.

Lakefront property owner Duncan Matlack also attended to represent a trust with 35 people who own an island on the lake. Falciani told Matlack the moratorium was available for the public to review in the Select Board packet of materials.

Board member Taylor Benzie sees the big issues as docks and usage. He is in favor of a moratorium, so the town can get all the stakeholders involved and come up with a comprehensive look at an ordinance, "so that everyone has a fair and equitable shot at making sure Megunticook is the way they want it to be."

Board member Alison McKellar said a primary concern about the draft moratorium is how the town will distinguish between new and existing moorings. While she has many questions, she said she would vote for a moratorium.

McKellar also objected to the public hearing process, calling it "ridiculous." While the public is speaking, she said, they don't know what board members are going to say. After public comment is closed, and board members speak, they may have additional comments or questions, she said. "I don't see why we need to limit the discussion to this degree."

Board member Jenna Lookner said the moratorium would deal with new moorings. She said the lack of knowledge regarding existing moorings makes the situation more complicated. However, she supports a moratorium, followed by the formation of a committee.

Board member Marc Ratner said he would vote for a moratorium to get the needed discussion of the issues started.

Falciani asked Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell if there is an existing mooring field survey for the lake, and she said there is not one.

Falciani said all of the issues raised should be investigated, and the town should proceed with a committee. He said he would vote against a moratorium, which he believes "does nothing," because there is no record of existing moorings.

Prior to voting, McKellar asked if the ordinance could be modified at the special town meeting. Falciani said this could be done, with voter approval.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.