To the Editor:
On behalf of the residents of the north end of Echo Lake, I thank the Islander and reporter Dick Broom for his fair and balanced article on the 193-foot boardwalk that developer Shep Harris and his family propose to build through the wetlands at the north end of Echo Lake.
I write to provide additional perspective on the proposed boardwalk and the basis for our adamant opposition.
The proposed boardwalk should not be built. In all the versions that Harris has proposed over the past 14 months and in any version he could propose to satisfy his misguided commercial objective, the marine structure would violate several requirements of the Mount Desert Land Use Zoning Ordinance (LUZO).
The boardwalk could not be set back far enough from Echo Lake Road. It would exceed the length permitted to traverse a wetland of this size, involve an unpermitted clear-cut at the edge of the wetland, pose obvious safety risks at the road, degrade important hydrological functions of the wetland (the only outlet of the lake) and damage a unique environment essential to wildlife, including loon reproduction at the lake.
All this would be done for a project with no public purpose that would serve only the commercial objective of a developer and his misperception of the interest of six eventual buyers. As the story documented, the Harris objective driving his boardwalk application is to claim “lake access” for his lots in the marketplace – albeit access to a rocky reach of lake end that is often less than a foot shallow in summer.
The Harris lots in Lakeside II and III are attractive but overpriced; they have not moved for two decades. In fact, they did not move during the past 14 months when Harris real estate ads claimed that they already had the “lake access” he seeks in his application.
We encourage the developer to read the market message and consider reaching out to buyers who will value the amenity of a pristine wetland far more than a dysfunctional, dangerous boardwalk that damages a community asset 16,000 years in the making.