TREMONT — Town officials and attorney James Collier began work last week on a new harbor management ordinance during a meeting of the Harbor Committee.
After two hours of discussion June 30, it was clear more meetings would be needed before the draft is completed. Less than a half-dozen of the 14 pages of the document had been reviewed.
Amending the ordinance is needed to bring it in line with federal regulations regarding the 2010-2011 U. S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging of Bass Harbor and to update other areas of the document. The Harbor Committee previously attempted to amend the rules, but their motion to send it to selectmen for inclusion on the 2015 town meeting warrant failed in a 3-3 vote in February of that year, a fact alluded to by committee member Mel Atherton.
“We spent the last few years working on this and ended up with nothing,” Atherton said.
Among the proposed changes are those dealing with the process of appealing decisions of the harbormaster regarding permits for moorings, floats and lobster cars. Anyone adversely affected by the issuance of a permit would have 30 days in which to appeal to the Harbor Committee. If not satisfied with the outcome, the person has 30 days in which to appeal the committee’s decision to the town’s Board of Appeals. Appeals would be heard on an appellate basis instead of a de novo basis, where new evidence can be introduced.
Collier also is proposing to eliminate some of the duties of the Harbor Committee, including their oversight of the job of the harbormaster and their authority to the assignment of moorings, floats and lobster cars.
Collier said he believes these two duties “caused a lot of trouble in the past” that led to the resignation of several harbormasters.
The ordinance now sets the term for committee members at two years. A three-year term might be more appropriate, they suggested.
Under the current ordinance, the harbormaster must be reappointed each year. Town Manager Dana Reed argued that this was not a sufficient term for the harbormaster to be reasonably comfortable that he or she had some job security. Reed suggested having a longer term or no term at all. Collier agreed to eliminate any reference to a term.
The Harbor Committee is expected to resume their review at their meeting later this month.
Any proposed changes in the ordinance would need final approval of voters at a town meeting.