Boatyard property is eyed

TREMONT — If a Southern Maine developer gets his way, the Morris Yachts property on Bass Harbor will become the site of a residential complex with docking space for homeowners.

Paul Hollis of Responsible Estate Development and his engineer, Noel Musson, presented a concept plan Tuesday to members of the town’s planning board. The workshop session was scheduled so Hollis could run his ideas by the board and gauge how best to develop the 5.2-acre parcel.

Historically, the property has been used as a boatyard. The current owner, Morris Yachts, has continued that use but has shifted most of its operations to its Trenton facility.

According to code enforcement officer Debbi Nickerson, Hollis does not own the property and does not have a purchase and sale agreement with Morris Yachts. He does have permission from the owner to approach the planning board to discuss his plans, she said.

Hollis’s concept plan is for six residences on the property. Homeowners would have their own slip at the dock. An existing structure on the property would provide storage for homeowner’s boats during the off-season.

“We’re looking to do something unique and different while staying within the zoning [requirements],” Hollis told the board.

Musson prepared the plan as if it were to be a cluster development. As such, the lot size requirement for five of the homes would basically be cut in half. This is allowable by the creation of common areas, or open space.

The problem here, planning board members said, is that the property is divided into two zones, the commercial fisheries/maritime activity zone and the residential/business zone. Musson’s calculations for open space were based on the entire property. Planning board members debated whether this was allowable.

“In my opinion,” said chairman Mike Ryan, “to set aside commercial land for residential use would violate the intent of the ordinance.”

Ryan pointed out that the plan to have each homeowner own a boat slip, thereby creating a private dock on the Bass Harbor waterfront, also is contrary to the intent of the zoning ordinance to preserve commercial maritime uses in that zone. Even if a few rental slips were added, the board would be leery of that part of the plan, he added.

“We’re going to look at this as, ‘Is this a marina or a dodge to get private slips down there?’” Ryan told Hollis.

These concerns prompted Hollis to ask about other options. He indicated he would scrap the cluster development and instead develop the residential portion of his plan as condominiums. This eliminates the issue surrounding open space.

“I think that’s the direction we’re going to go,” Hollis said.

To get around any problems regarding private boat slips, Hollis said he would rent out slips rather than include them in the purchase of a home lot. Ryan suggested Hollis run his plans for docking before the town’s harbor committee to get their input “so we know it’s not an impediment to traffic.”

Hollis is expected to present a new plan to the planning board. When that will happen is not known. He did say he’d like to proceed with the project as quickly as possible and seek “approval in a reasonable amount of time.”

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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