Lincolnville may extend mooring moratorium on inland waterways

Jan 30, 2019
Source: File photo

A 180-day extension to the current moratorium on inland waterway moorings is recommended to allow time to draft local ordinances to regulate these moorings.

A public vote is required to extend the moratorium, which was suggested Jan. 28 by Jay Foster, chairman of the town's Inland Waterway Committee.

Foster reported to the Board of Selectmen on the committee's progress since its inception in September. He noted that he has reviewed the committee's work with Town Administrator David Kinney and Inland Harbormaster Justin Twitchell.

Foster stated that the committee could not identify any existing problems with moorings in Lincolnville's lakes and ponds, but could see areas where problems could arise. While there are no moorings in the narrows, which connects Norton's Pond in Lincolnville with Lake Megunticook, moorings there could cause a hazard to navigation. Another area is a property in Lincolnville on the Camden town line that has three or more moorings used to access Fang Island.

The committee identified state law MRSA 38 as providing a key regulation that one mooring is allowed for an inland waterfront property with a minimum of 100 feet of shore frontage, and the mooring must be placed within 200 feet of the shoreline. Under this law, a harbormaster has the authority to move or remove a mooring. The state does not regulate moorings, but leaves that up to municipalities, Foster said.

In response to a request from board member Keryn Laite to clarify what constitutes a mooring, Foster explained that the one mooring can be for a boat, a float or a ramp. The key is that the mooring is attached to the bottom of the lake or pond, he said. State law stipulates what a mooring is and is not, he said. For example, it can be a concrete block with a chain attached, but you cannot throw an engine block into the water and make that into a mooring.

He laid out three options for Lincolnville's approach to regulating inland waterway moorings, and said the committee favors option two. Option one is to do nothing, because there is no driving reason to have an ordinance or regulations. Option two is to create a minimum regulatory ordinance that would allow one mooring per property owner according to state law, without requiring a permit or fee, and with complaint-driven enforcement if there is a problem with navigation or safety. Twitchell agrees with this, Foster said.

Option three is to create an ordinance with published standards, permitting and fees for moorings, defined mooring fields, and full authority given to the harbormaster "to do what he needed to do," Foster said. A reason for choosing this option would be to protect Breezemere Park, the town's sole waterfront property, he said.

In recommending option two, the committee sees "that there is a reason to have minimum regulations, to give the inland harbormaster something to work with if there is a problem," Foster said.

 

The proposed ordinance would create a water safety zone from the property line out to the 200-foot mark. Enforcement would be complaint-based, and the inland harbormaster would have authority to move, relocate or remove moorings.

 

The committee suggests creating two exclusionary zones where moorings would not be allowed, in the narrows and at Breezemere Park, Foster said. The distance across the narrows is not wide enough for moorings to be placed without impeding navigation and safety, Foster explained. Twitchell agrees with this, he said.

Breezemere Park has a public swimming ramp and a boat launching ramp that has to have a navigable channel to the outside of the water safety zone, as well as a float 50 feet from the shore, used by the boat club to store its boats. There is no room for moorings there, Foster said.

 

Regarding the property with multiple moorings near Fang Island, the committee recommends this be allowed with the written permission of the property owner.
Foster said it has not created a problem, and the committee sees no reason to create a problem, but it has to be addressed "because it runs afoul of Title 38." He said a similar situation exists near Crane Island.

 

Lastly, Foster asked the Board of Selectmen to consider an extension of the current 180-day moratorium. The board has the authority to place the extension question before voters, and will consider this. Kinney explained that the board has to hold a public hearing and decide if two criteria for extending the moratorium have been met: that the problem still exists and that there has been a diligent effort to address it, but that effort is not yet complete.

 

The committee has made significant progress on the timeline given by the board, and has the information it needs to go ahead with regulations, according to Foster. "The extension would give us time to draft, run it by the town attorney and get it on the ballot in June," he said.

 

Board Chairman Ladleah Dunn asked if the committee had reached out to the town of Camden, and if Camden has appointed someone to sit on Lincolnville's committee.

 

Kinney said the town has reached out to Camden, Hope and Searsmont, and none of the towns has appointed representatives to Lincolnville's committee. Paul Leeper, executive director of the Megunticook Lake Association, is attending Lincolnville's committee meetings, he said. Leeper is also a member of an inland waterway committee recently formed in Camden.

 

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