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This page is intended to provide me (Burr Taylor) with an opportunity to express some of my ideas.  Your comments are welcome. As always please, send them to Comments. I will  post them on the new comments page.

Response to Selectman Weil

Skipper's Comments 3/04 to 5/04
Skipper's Comments 10/04 to 5/05
Skipper's Comments 6-06-?
Conflict with Sel. Weil

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By request, I have removed my initial comments from the website. They were considered to be political and too personal, which was not my intention. Below is a revised  version, which I hope is more acceptable.

The following is a personal statement about the defeat of the Harbor and Waterfront Ordinance. It has not been approved by the town or the committee.

Town Meeting is over, and much to the surprise of the Harbor and Waterfront Committee its proposed ordinance changes were resoundingly defeated. The committee went over the proposal several times looking for issues that might cause people pause. But, in the end, the committee concluded that we had not really changed anything much that would cause any difficulty.

The committee’s plan was to re-write the ordinance for the 2007 town meeting with the goal of only changing the items that needed changing for the Harbormaster to efficiently and fairly organize mooring space for those who asked for it. When the ordinance was approved by town meeting, we would begin work on a Harbor Management Plan, which we saw as a water version of the Comprehensive Plan. After a community discussion about any contentious issues that might be in the plan, we planned to again revise the ordinance. Clearly our plan was wishful thinking.

Our first surprise came when, unlike with the other ordinances, the selectmen did not call on a staff member to introduce and explain the changes to the ordinance. Harbormaster Jim Hays, with some help from the committee, had spent considerable time preparing some introductory remarks. In retrospect, I guess he could have made them anyway, but that’s not the way it seemed at the time.

The first speaker, Gordon Weil, quoted from the ordinance as follows

5.1.7 With the exception of occasional use moorings as set forth in Section 5.2.5, rental moorings as set forth in Section 5.2.6 and service moorings as set forth in Section 5.2.7, all registered moorings shall be used solely and exclusively for the personal use of the registrant and solely and exclusively for the vessel listed on the approved application.

He went on to say, “so that you not only have to register the mooring, but connected with it is a specific vessel.” The speaker must have been unaware that moorings are already connected with specific boats under the current ordinance and that is why the registration application asks for the name and other information about the boat connected with the application.

Furthermore, I quote the following from Statute 38, the Maine state law covering moorings.

In all harbors wherein channel lines have been established by the municipal officers, as provided in section 2, and in all other coastal and tidal waters, harbors and great ponds where mooring rights of individuals are claimed to be invaded and protection is sought of the harbor master, the harbor master shall assign and indicate only to the masters or owners of boats and vessels the location that they may occupy for mooring purposes and shall change the location of those moorings from time to time when the crowded condition of that harbor or great pond, the need to conform to section 7-A or other conditions render the change desirable.

The speaker had other comments relating to vessels using moorings temporarily such as the length of the vessel, and the five day limit. These were conditions, among others that were added to the ordinance by the lawyer or by the Selectmen. There is a safety issue with boats on other people’s moorings. I know the Corps of Engineers does not recommend and most towns do not even allow rental moorings except in marinas. In any case a quick call to the Harbormaster’s office could resolve this issue. The speaker’s solution of saying that someone (the harbormaster?) needs to determine the maximum size boat for a mooring, is a unwieldy and puts far too much responsibility and time on the Harbormaster as well as opening up the town to liability concerns. If anyone knows of a town that does not connect moorings with specific boats, I would be interested.

The speaker also complained that if you bought a new boat during the year, you would need to update your registration. Of course you would, just as you have to update your car registration. It does not seem unduly burdensome to me to expect people to keep the Harbormaster informed of changes in their mooring status. It is expected in most, if not all, towns.

The next speaker, Jim Knight, had three objections, all of which missed the mark in my opinion. First, he said that the Harbormaster should not be allowed to close harbors, because this would be too much power in Harbormaster’s hands. Instead this should be a responsibility of the Selectmen. The fact is that the Harbormaster has had the responsibility of closing harbors, or starting the wait list which is the same thing, for at least the last ten years. Brian Soper closed Mackerel Cove many years ago. Article 8 of Statute 38 clearly allows Harbormaster to close harbors.

Whenever there are more applicants for a mooring assignment than there are mooring spaces available, the harbor master or other town official shall create a waiting list. The town officials shall work out a reasonable procedure for persons to add their names to this list. The procedure shall be posted in a public place. The list shall be considered a public document under the freedom of access law.

The speaker’s second objection concerned the possibility that the Harbormaster (or town clerk) could ask everyone to resubmit their application if they so chose. The original proposal we submitted to the Selectmen said nothing about renewals. The committee planned to discuss renewals for the second revision. The lawyer added something about renewing every year, and the town office changed it to what it says below.

Applicants for a renewal mooring registration need only submit a new completed application form to the Town Clerk if there are any changes to the registration from the prior year or at the request of the Town Clerk or Harbormaster.

As far as I know the Town Clerk or Harbormaster could request new mooring applications with or without this clause in the Harbor Waterfront Ordinance. Its existence in an ordinance does not affect the ability of the Harbormaster to request new applications. Furthermore, requesting new applications would require considerable time on the part of both the Town Clerk and the Harbormaster. It is unlikely to happen unless it is very important.

Third, the speaker objected to the clause, “No mooring shall be used as a rental mooring without the prior written approval of both the Harbormaster and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.” He stated that requiring prior written approval “made him tantamount to God.” That is, at best, a very strange statement.

This clause replaced the following in the old ordinance,

“No registration of any rental mooring shall be effected without proof that an Army Corps Permit has been issued in the name of the applicant for registration; and where such application is pending, registration by the Town shall be temporary pending final Army Corps approval.”

Under both the new and the old ordinance rental moorings require the approval of both the Harbormaster and the Corps of Engineers. The Corps of Engineers will not approve rental moorings without prior approval of the Harbormaster.

The third speaker, Alan Shaver, was concerned that the new ordinance would not allow yacht clubs to give visitors a temporary mooring. The new ordinance provides for service moorings, which the current ordinance does not. Service moorings fill exactly the need of a yacht club to provide visitor moorings. His concern about providing GPS coordinates was also misplaced since the proposed ordinance specifically says “GPS, if available.”

I admit to being very confused about why the ordinance was defeated so thoroughly. As the reader can see from reading the above, the concerns expressed at town meeting seem to me to be incorrect. I would very much appreciate anyone who can help me understand what is going on. You may email me (see above) or call me at 725-2802

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Last edited on 01/07/2010