Donald Crabtree runs a floating lobster-buying business out of this 45-foot barge operating in Seal Cove in Tremont. FILE PHOTO

Lobster buyer getting refund

TREMONT — A lobster buyer using the Seal Cove Ramp is getting his $600 back from the town.

Selectmen on Monday voted 4-0 to refund Donald Crabtree the extra money he was charged in September after the $400 commercial use fee was raised to $1,000.

Crabtree started using the Seal Cove facility in the spring of 2015. In June, he paid the $400 annual fee then in effect. His use of the Seal Cove Ramp was unprecedented. He moors a 45-foot barge in Seal Cove and uses the ramp to load bait before motoring offshore where he sells bait to and buys lobsters from fishermen. The day’s catch of lobsters is then offloaded at the ramp.

The additional pressure on Seal Cove and the disparity between commercial use fees there and at the Bernard Wharf led selectmen to raise the fee to $1,000. Crabtree was assessed the extra $600.

Crabtree balked at paying the additional money. In a Sept. 16 letter to the town, he outlined improvements that the town would have to make at Seal Cove to justify the increase. He also hired an attorney, Charles Gilbert III of Gilbert and Greif PA of Bangor, to represent him.

Gilbert, in a letter to the town, contended that selectmen had no authority to increase the fee and stated that “this matter is not going to go away, and Mr. Crabtree is not going to back down, so kindly rescind the illegal charge against him for which there is no basis.”

Crabtree did not pay the $600 until November and then only after Harbormaster Justin Seavey issued him an order to cease use of the facility for nonpayment.

On Monday, Selectman Chris Eaton made the motion to refund the money. The motion carried with no discussion. Asked about the decision after the meeting, selectmen and Town Manager Dana Reed would not comment.

According to the town’s wharf and facilities ordinance, “selectmen may enter into agreements or contracts with commercial entities regarding Seal Cove that are financially beneficial to the town.”

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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