To the Editor:
I am one of the circulators of the citizen petition to bring voter control to cruise ship visitation. We are not attempting to eliminate cruise ships. We need this lucrative industry. It brings business to our town and extends our tourist season at both ends. We simply want to have the control of the rate of growth of the industry in the hands of the citizens. The health of our community and our environment, in my opinion, is too important a matter to be placed in the hands of a few.
This initiative gives voters control over any changes to the existing caps that the Town Council already has set for the daily number of cruise ship passengers who can visit. That cap now is 3,500 per day in the summer and 5,500 per day in the spring and fall. The length of ships that can be berthed is now limited to 300 feet. The size limit on any ships anchored is determined by passenger caps only and are serviced by tender boats.
If there is a need to increase the caps, the voters, after notice and a chance for discussion, can vote to amend the LUO and change the caps. With this amendment, the voters will decide when to change the standards, after proper notice and a full discussion.
Some folks say that it would take too long to get a cap increase on the ballot. Not so. We got petitions from the town clerk on Feb. 8, began circulating on Feb. 11, had 376 signatures by Feb. 20. We had a vote by the council by March 7. It took less than a month!
The townspeople meet every six months, so have the opportunity to change the caps twice a year.
It also has been said that there have been no hearings on this initiative. That was said during a hearing.
Between now and June 13, when we get to vote on this initiative, there will be two Town Council public hearings, a Planning Board public hearing, a Warrant Committee public meeting and an informational meeting hosted by Ron Beard and Nina St. Germain. That will give us five opportunities to speak and ask questions.
Anyone who is interested should attend, and since this is a decision that affects all of us, we should all have information and input on such a life-changing decision.