The operator of this lobster buying barge has balked at paying increased fees for the use of the town wharf in Seal Cove. FILE PHOTO

Lobster buyer balks at wharf fee increase

TREMONT — A lobster buyer based at the Seal Cove Wharf is asking the town to make major improvements at the wharf to justify the extra $600 he was assessed for commercial use of the facility.

Donald Crabtree began using the Seal Cove Wharf earlier this year. On June 1, he paid the $400 fee then in effect for commercial use of the wharf. At the time, lobster buyers using the Bernard Town Wharf were paying a $2,500 fee. That fee changed July 1, when it doubled to $5,000.

Selectmen, at a Sept. 7 meeting, increased the commercial use fee for Seal Cove to $1,000, a move they justified by the increased pressure on the facility from Crabtree’s business and a desire to bring fees more in line with those at the Bernard Town Wharf.

In a Sept. 16 letter to the town, Crabtree outlined improvements he claims need to be made in order to justify the fee increase.

Crabtree is asking the town to dredge the area near the wharf, apparently to accommodate the draft of a 30-by-60-foot barge that he contends is needed for his business to expand. He currently operates from a 45-foot barge that is moored in the harbor and in which he motors out into Blue Hill Bay to conduct business.

In addition, boats moored in Seal Cove will have to be moved to accommodate “the large swing” of his new barge, lighting needs to be installed, and his company should have use of the wharf for storage during the day, he states.

His requests don’t end there.

“We also ask that a boom lift be installed as part of the pier being used as commercial use,” Crabtree wrote. His company also should have designated parking spaces “striped for our commercial truck.”

Crabtree’s requests were discussed at an Oct. 29 meeting of the harbor committee, according to Harbormaster Justin Seavey. No action was taken.

Crabtree has now gone to selectmen with his requests. Selectmen are expected to discuss the issues at their meeting on Monday, according to Town Manager Dana Reed.

At the time of the harbor committee meeting, Crabtree had not paid the additional $600. Any reluctance he had for doing so disappeared after Seavey on Nov. 2 issued him a cease and desist order for use of the wharf. Crabtree paid the remaining fee two days after the order was issued, Seavey said.

This is not the first time one of Crabtree’s businesses has generated controversy. He was the owner of the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop in Vassalboro, where bare-breasted waitresses served customers. The restaurant was destroyed in a 2009 fire intentionally set by the boyfriend of one of the waitresses. The coffee shop later reopened but closed its doors in 2011.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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