Yachting Solutions? Or Problems?

By Ronald Huber | Feb 12, 2018
Source: City of Rockland Red lines are Yachting Solutions proposed expansions of piers, including two large ones to serve as wave calmers for YS' part of the harbor.

All Rockland is a’roar over Yachting Solutions LLC’s well-intentioned, but overambitious initiative to expand its presence in the city’s inner harbor.

The plan’s gradual unveiling during recent Harbor Management Commission and City Council meetings will culminate at City Council chambers on February 14th at 5:30 pm with public comments and a full bore presentation by Yachting Solution LLC and its consultant Mike Sabatini, followed by a question & answer session. (This schedule according to City Councilor/Mayor Valli Geiger.)

The city council chambers promise to resound with the ire of a cross section of harbor users adamantly opposed to their displacement and to the degradation of the harbor as a whole.

Who benefits? Who loses? Numerous opinions have arisen, of which these stand out:

State of Maine? Submerged lands lease payments, corporate income taxes.

Federal Government? Taxes on fuel sales (Mega yachts are thirsty beasts!)

City of Rockland? Gains nothing. Loses much

Public? Nope. Let’s count the ways: 1. Reduced access between inner harbor and bay. 2. The public’s scenic vista out to the Fox Islands would be significantly reduced. 3. The annual Parade of Sail would lose its access into the inner harbor via the South Channel, providing spectators with stunning, close-up views of Maine’s fleet. 4. Amount of public fishing bottom historically open in winter, would be reduced, both directly and by the reshuffling of moorings. 5. Rockland’s South Channel would be turned into mooring sites, and closed to the windjammer's Parade of Sail and many small boat users, and , 6. Inner harbor entry and exit routes would be limited to the federal channel, which would force paddle, sail and power small pleasure craft to thread their way in and out of the inner harbor  amongst ferries, Coasties, fishing boats, cruise ships and other commercial vessel traffic.

What does Yachting Solutions get? Revenue from slips, from servicing megayachts and prestige in mega-yacht circles, thanks for federal tax dollars that will pay for 2,200 feet of new dockage at the facility, solely for eligible transient vessels,100-amp and 480V 3-phase power, in-slip fueling, and conversion of the existing gazebo into a private transient boaters’ lounge. YS is doing just fine.

What’s to be done? Number one Task: Ensure that South Channel aka the mooring channel remain open as an officially recognized municipal navigation channel. This is a matter of public safety and public convenience. An historic route must not be closed off. Extinguished. But it well could as plans proceed.

Keeping the South Channel  open: Maine state law MRSA 38 §2. Rules for channel lines; enforcement lays it out in one paragraph:

The municipal officers of all maritime towns and plantations, other bodies empowered to regulate municipal harbors and the county commissioners in the case of maritime unorganized townships may make rules and regulations, with suitable provision for enforcement, to keep open convenient channels for the passage of vessels in the harbors and waterways of the towns or townships for which they act, and may establish the boundary lines of those channels and assign suitable portions of their harbors and other coastal and tidal waters within their jurisdiction for anchorages.

Rockland, like all Maine coastal towns, can designate - or un-designate  harbor channels. Such decisions must be made with the consent of the Rockland City Council in consultation with the People

Yachting Solutions can be a good harbor citizen while still enjoying rising revenue by deepsixing at least half of its plan and focusing on the rest. Forget the wave attenuators/megayacht piers and other piers that would reach across the inner harbor, choking South Channel and blocking irreplaceable scenic bay views out to the Fox Islands from the public landing.

Closing the scenic commons would place Rockland be on the wrong side of, among other things, Maine’s scenic laws, which, refined by years of litigation,  make such a viewshed degrader as the Yachting Solutions proposal legally untenable, as Samoset learned to its chagrin some years ago. Any wave attenuators should be well out in the harbor and of a scale that benefits all the harbor, not only one privatized corner.

If Yachting Solutions grows within its footprint – and a smidgeon beyond – and supports keeping South Channel open, then doubtless it will earn the respect and trust of all Rocklanders. YS can pursue its growth goals without stamping on the goals of others, including those of us whose goal is simply to take in the bay in its scenic majesty from the shore and on board, whether with family, friends or solo.

A little give and take will go a long way, Yachting Solutions!

- by Ron Huber, Friends of Penobscot Bay

-Reprinted from "The Buzz"

Comments (1)
Posted by: Christopher Allen | Feb 13, 2018 17:18

Thank you Mr. Huber.

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