Harbor ordinance heads to selectmen

TREMONT — Selectmen are to decide if a special town meeting should be held for voters to consider a new version of the town’s harbor ordinance.

The Harbor Committee Oct. 27 voted 5-0 to send an amended ordinance on to selectmen for possible inclusion on a special town meeting warrant. Selectmen are expected to consider the matter at their Nov. 21 meeting.

The Harbor Committee and town attorney James Collier began working on changes to the ordinance in June. This is not the first attempt by the committee to rework the document extensively. A motion to send a different amended ordinance on to selectmen for inclusion on the 2015 town meeting warrant failed in a 3-3 vote in February of that year.

Among the proposed changes are ones that clarify the makeup of the Harbor Committee, eliminate the Board of Selectmen’s role in regards to the harbormaster and modify the appeals process.

As proposed, the committee would consist of seven members serving three-year terms. The ordinance now sets terms at two years. All members must be residents of the town and familiar with the harbors and activities within the harbors.

Two members are to be commercial fishermen, one an owner or employee of a boat storage or repair business, one a riparian property owner and three members representatives at large. After discussion, the committee agreed that at-large members also could fall into one of the other categories.

The current ordinance states that the Board of Selectmen appoints the harbormaster, who is to serve a one-year term “at the pleasure of the board of selectmen.” Selectmen also appoint a deputy harbormaster if the Harbor Committee recommends that one be appointed.

In the amended ordinance, the reference to Board of Selectmen is struck and replaced by “town manager.” Because the town manager is responsible for all employees in the town manager form of government as in Tremont, the decision was made to take selectmen out of the role of managing the harbormaster.

The proposed ordinance states three reasons for which a decision by the harbormaster can be appealed to the Harbor Committee and the time frame for making that appeal. Anyone affected by the assignment of a location for a mooring, float or lobster car must file an appeal by April 1 of each year. A person affected by issuance of a permit for a mooring, float or lobster car must file an appeal within 30 days of the permit being issued. A person who disagrees with the suspension or revocation of a permit has 30 days from the date of that action in which to appeal.

All three types of appeals are to be heard on a de novo basis, where new evidence can be introduced, and not on an appellate basis. The appellant must file all documents and exhibits related to the appeal seven days before the hearing. The opposing party can file a response to these materials three days before the hearing.

In hearing an appeal, the Harbor Committee is to use the rules for hearings as detailed in the Board of Appeals ordinance, with the exception of publicizing the notice of appeal, which only needs to be made once.

Any decision of the Harbor Committee unfavorable to the appellant can be appealed to the Tremont Board of Appeals within 30 days of the date of the Harbor Committee’s written decision. The Board of Appeals is to hear the appeal on an appellate basis, where no new evidence is allowed.

Voters most likely will find another harbor-related warrant article on the warrant for the upcoming special town meeting. With work completed on the harbor ordinance, Collier has begun rewriting the town’s wharf ordinance, which governs the operation and use of town docks. Town Manager Dana Reed has said he would like the two issues to be considered at the same meeting with the goal of having the ordinance changes in effect for the 2017 boating season.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

Latest posts by Mark Good (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.