Cruise ship ban to go to voters

TREMONT — A proposed zoning ordinance banning cruise ship activity is expected to go before voters at the end of October.

A 180-day moratorium on new cruise ship activities was approved by voters last November and expired in February. Selectmen, as is their right from the vote, extended that 180-day moratorium through this season. The current moratorium expires on Nov. 6, the same day state elections are scheduled. Selectmen have decided to schedule a special town meeting on Oct. 29, which will take place before a regularly scheduled Selectmen meeting.

The Planning Board, which is responsible for zoning ordinances, has a public hearing on the cruise ship ordinance scheduled for Sept. 11. If there are recommended changes that come from that meeting, Code Enforcement Officer John Larson will be responsible for drafting the changes. With or without adjustments from the Planning Board’s public hearing, the proposed ordinance recommendation will need to go before the Select Board in order to go to voters for approval.

Members of the Select Board were set to decide this week if they would like a proposed zoning ordinance to go before voters in a secret ballot vote or at a special town meeting vote. In their Sept. 4 meeting, Selectmen decided to hold a special town meeting for voters to decide on the issue.

The current proposed ordinance would permanently prohibit tenders from offloading passengers from anchored cruise ships into Tremont.

“The town is attempting to regulate the on-land activity,” said Town Manager Chris Saunders on Friday. “We’ve modeled ours after the town of Southwest Harbor.”

Tremont’s Harbor Committee recommended the current moratorium and supports the proposed zoning ordinance.

In public meetings last fall about the original moratorium, there was overwhelming opposition to cruise ship activity in Tremont. Southwest Harbor had the same response when a cruise ship wanted to bring 50 to 60 passengers at a time in on a tender to unload at Beal’s Lobster Pier, near the lower town dock.

Fishermen in that town voiced concern the large ship could interfere with and damage their equipment.

Mount Desert enacted a ban after the same cruise ship, the Pearl Mist, visited Northeast Harbor in the fall of 2016.

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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