TREMONT — The Harbor Committee on Thursday approved amendments to the harbor management ordinance that could soon go before voters at a special town meeting.
An earlier version of the amended ordinance was voted down at the May 9 open town meeting after Town Manager Dana Reed said he had just learned the wording of one section of the amended ordinance would prohibit fishing vessels from using the A pool in Bass Harbor. It was this change that the committee thought they would be making on Thursday. They soon found out there were other issues with the document.
The A pool problem stemmed from the definitions of “commercial vessels” and, separately, “commercial fishing vessels.” The ordinance stated “only commercial vessels” will be assigned moorings in A pool. However, the ordinance defines “commercial vessel” as “any vessel not used as a commercial fishing vessel or as a commercial passenger vessel.”
The definition did not sit well with committee member Spencer Ervin, who had been away for the winter and did not participate in meetings where the proposed amendments were developed in conjunction with town attorney James Collier.
“It’s crazy; it’s in the most general terms,” Ervin said, adding that he was unsure of the intent. “I think it’s a trap for the unwary.”
Reed agreed. Chairman Mel Atherton had a different take.
“I think it’s the intent of the committee to make it as broad as possible,” he said.
The committee agreed 6-0 to change the definition to read that a commercial vessel is any vessel “used as a commercial fishing vessel or commercial passenger vessel or which is used in commercial activities.”
Stewart Murphy, a fisherman, pointed out another issue with the section concerning use of the A pool. He argued that it should only say that commercial vessels should be assigned moorings and that floats and lobster cars should not be permitted. The section covering lobster cars states they should be located in B pool.
Murphy was asked why he thought floats should not be allowed in the A pool, particularly when that could help with a goal to increase the number of boats in the harbor. Murphy deferred to Harbormaster Justin Seavey, who agreed that floats would cause problems. That goal, Seavey said, is best addressed through two-point moorings and not floats.
A motion to eliminate floats and lobster cars from the A pool carried 6-0.
The ordinance gives riparian landowners specific rights to moorings. Here, again, it was the definition of a “riparian landowner” that the committee felt needed changing. After some discussion, it was decided that the definition under state law should be substituted. The question then was whether to refer to the statute or quote it in the ordinance.
“It would be safer for it to be a direct quote,” Ervin said.
The committee voted 6-0 to quote the statute in its entirety.
The committee’s recommended changes next will go to selectmen, who are to decide if the amended ordinance is to go before voters at a special town meeting.