Lobster noise debate continues



SOUTHWEST HARBOR — MDI Lobster Company on Clark Point Road has a new way to keep bait cool, but neighbors are still not happy with the noise.

“People down there are pretty frustrated,” Selectman Kristin Hutchins told other members of the Board of Selectmen at their Aug. 13 meeting. “They are taking the position, at least some of them, that there is a violation of the consent agreement … I don’t know what that’s going to mean going forward, if we’re going to find ourselves considering noise standards or not.”

Last fall, several neighbors attended a Board of Selectmen meeting to voice concerns with the operation of a storage trailer used for frozen bait. It was powered by an external generator that ran 24 hours a day.

After investigating, the town’s code enforcement officer issued a notice of violation to land owner Sheryl Harper and business owners Joe Debeck and Nicholas Sayre.

As a next step, the town drafted a consent agreement with Harper and MDI Lobster to resolve the noise issue by April 1 of this year. Selectmen voted to extend the deadline to April 5, after the original deadline was missed.

Town Manager Justin VanDongen is not so sure the noise is still at an offensive level.

“They brought in something that sounded like a runaway train and now every noise hits a nerve with neighbors,” he said to the Islander on Monday. “The cooler that is there was permitted by the code enforcement officer previously.”

The consent agreement includes language about a replacement cooler and installation of a higher voltage outlet to accommodate it. According to Hutchins, the alternative cooler the business now uses does not fall within what is stated in the agreement. VanDongen explained that the agreement was outlined to address a noise violation.

It would be up to newly appointed Code Enforcement Officer John Larson to determine whether the current noise is within the ordinance.

“If that’s not the case, then they would be in violation of the consent agreement,” said VanDongen. “That’s when we would start to follow up on it.”

Earlier this year, MDI Lobster submitted an application to the Planning Board for food service at the location that included outdoor seating. According to VanDongen, that application has been withdrawn.

“The question remains, do we have a noise violation?” Hutchins asked. “It’s not nearly as loud as it used to be … Our ordinance says, it is objectionable?

“I think one could make the argument that what’s not objectionable during the day is objectionable 24 hours in the middle of the night,” she added. “We had this conversation last fall and I have a feeling we’re in for it again.”

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