Windjammer, day sail licenses dominate discussion of harbor committee priorities

By Susan Mustapich | Oct 11, 2019
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The newly-appointed Harbor Committee is tackling windjammer and day-sail licenses, among numerous issues on its work plan.

CAMDEN — Windjammer and day-sail licensing rose to the top, as the most discussed item on the work plan of the Harbor Committee, presented to the Select Board Oct. 8.

Harbor Committee chairman Mark Siegenthaler said the committee identified topics of importance, outlined in the town's comprehensive plan, and came up with a work plan divided into four areas: public access, harbor use and management, commercial use, and protection of harbor waters.

He said the most difficult issue is under commercial use, with the windjammer licenses coming up for renewal in April 2020 and the day-sail licenses up for renewal in January.

The town of Camden licenses windjammer and day-sail boats that dock at the town-owned floats in Camden Harbor. The licenses also regulate certain aspects of how these commercial businesses operate. In 2018, the Select Board changed the windjammer licenses to allow 15 four-hour day-sails advertised to the public. Previously the license allowed windjammers only three chartered day-sails.

Twelve day-sail and windjammer owners objected to the license change, stating it violated the Harbor Ordinance and was made without review by the Harbor Committee or public hearings. These owners asked the board to rescind its decision. The board stood by its decision and the issue has remained an open controversy.

Siegenthaler explained that the committee has reviewed the existing licenses for both windjammer and day-sail boats. The committee has drafted a revised cover license for all of the boats, which contains the boilerplate requirements from the existing licenses, he explained. It has also drafted addendums to the cover license, based on type of boat and location in the harbor. He said "the thought is to streamline and simplify so the licensing agreement just pertains to each location."

The various include: day-sail, Public Landing; day-sail second boat ticket sales, windjammer, Public Landing; windjammer Harbor Park; and Steamboat landing.

Select Board member Marc Ratner asked if the license renewal periods would also become uniform, so that the day-sail licenses would no longer have one-year terms, while windjammers have three-year terms. He said day-sail owners have communicated that going through the renewal process every year is a hardship.

Siegenthaler confirmed that the day-sail owners have asked for a three-year term for their licenses. He talked about aligning the renewal process, so that all the boats would be renewing their licenses at the same time. Board members discussed the logistics of how this could be done, and when the revised renewal licenses could be ready. Members discussed the timeline for revising licenses with renewals coming up in January and April, and while acknowledging the need of boat owners to plan ahead for the 2020 season.

Board member Alison McKellar opened a discussion on the language of the licenses and definitions in the Harbor Ordinance, on which the licenses are based.

She said Camden's definitions of windjammers do not coincide with real-world definitions. She described the language the town of Camden is using in licenses and ordinances as difficult to understand and counterintuitive. She said she does not want to see the confusing language continued in new three-year agreements.

Board Chairman Bob Falciani talked about how the Harbor Ordinance contains language that ends up regulating the operation of the commercial boats and that these specifics need only to be contained in the licenses themselves.

Planning, Development and Code Office Director Jeremy Martin reminded the board that any change to the Harbor Ordinance requires a town vote, and that this process requires review and public hearings.

Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell suggested that one option is to renew the current day-sail and windjammer licenses, with the understanding that the new three-year licenses will supersede the current licenses when completed.

Further discussion centered on the category of protection of harbor waters. Falciani emphasized the important of follow-up on a study conducted this summer of boat waste and water pollution in Camden Harbor. He explained that the final draft of the study is wrapping up.

"We want the Harbor Committee to continue this work," he said. Falciani does not want to see the study wrapped up, "put on a shelf and its done."

Siegenthaler assured Falciani that two committee members are assigned to follow up on the boat waste study.

McKellar asked as the town replaces infrastructure in the harbor, including floats, piers and the sea wall, that it consider new materials to benefit habitat and environment. She cited examples in other harbors in the U.S. using new materials in floats and piers that allow sunlight to penetrate, as well as translucent boards, rather than covering a harbor with a shadow of floats and piers. She said sea wall structures are now being built with blocks beneficial to marine life. Falciani mentioned that he and other boaters are now using Habitat Moorings, rather than the standard solid concrete block used traditionally. Habitat Moorings are made in Maine, and are cast concrete with built in tunnels to shelter marine life.

Harbor Committee history

In 2018, the Select Board assigned the committee the task of reviewing and updating licensing for windjammers and daysailers. The board assigned this task after it made the change to the windjammer license in May 2018, allowing 15 day-sails

At that time, the committee consisted of members who had served for decades. It did not see the turnover in membership common to most of the town's committees and boards. Some members were owners of commercial businesses based in Camden Harbor.

The controversy that resulted from the license change shined a light on rules written into the commercial licenses and Harbor Ordinance, which regulate the commercial boats. There was general agreement among Harbor Committee members that origins and rationales for some of the language in the harbor ordinance and windjammer licenses, such as the three-day cruise requirement, were difficult to uncover.

In October 2018, Richard Stetson, chair of the Harbor Committee, said proposed changes to the windjammer license had been drafted. These included: reducing daysails from 15 to 10. The 10 day-sails would include three day-sails of any length, with ticket sales possible to individuals, plus seven additional day-sails for charter only.

Additional license changes proposed were: windjammers would not be allowed to advertise or sell day-sails on the town pier or floats; the three-day minimum length of a windjammer cruise would be changed to a minimum of two days and one night; a requirement for windjammers to notify the Camden harbormaster seven days prior to a daysail would be eliminated, and permission from the Camden Public Library trustees to run a day-sail would no longer be required for the three windjammers berthed at the head of the harbor.

The previous Harbor Committee was dissolved in February by the Select Board. The stated reason was an impasse over difficult issues.

In May, the Select Board appointed new members, and reconstituted the committee. A total of 30 community members applied for five member and two alternate seats, including all seven former committee members and alternates.

Five new members, and two new alternates were appointed to the committee, including: Siegenthaler and Kathy Young (three- year terms), Bob Perkins and Elliott Thompson (two-year); Joshua Moore (one-year); and alternates Ronald Hawkins and Bruce Peel (one-year). None of the new members own a harbor-based business. Two former members, Richard Stetson and Sandy Welte, were appointed as ex-officio members. None of the new members own businesses that operate out of Camden Harbor.

 

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