Coulombe floats proposal again, select board approves
At the Monday, Jan. 8 Boothbay Harbor Board of Selectmen meeting, Paul Coulombe brought forth an application to extend the length of one of three finger floats from 82 feet to 112 feet at Boothbay Harbor Oceanside Golf Resort. Lauren Stockwell of Stockwell Environmental Consulting presented the application speaking on behalf of Coulombe, who was in the audience. The application was brought before the board Nov. 13, but after a series of comments from the public and questions from the board, the application was withdrawn.
Board Chair Wendy Wolf said there would be three key guidelines in consideration of the application – any necessary permits outside the purview of the town must be obtained, the proposal does no injury to others, and the proposal does not adversely affect navigation in the harbor.
John Seitzer, Atlantic Avenue resident and business owner, who was at the board’s site visit, broke from the format of addressing the three main issues the board would be looking at, instead expressing concern for the aesthetics of the harbor. Many expressed concerns over the navigability of the inner harbor’s channel for small vessels, particularly kayaks, paddle-boarders and small sailboats.
Sam Fuller of Fuller Marine Services cited his education at Maine Maritime Academy and experience working with his father, Chuck Fuller.
“Any vessel under oars or under sail is, as per USCG regulations, required to stay out of the navigable channel. If there is a vessel constrained by draft or size, they have the right of way … People are making it out to be a really small channel – I don’t think it is.”
Fuller then read an excerpt from a letter his father intended to present during the meeting:
“One of the criteria for approval is demonstration of need – there is limited tie-up space for large boats in Boothbay Harbor. Owners of boats this size do not want to hang on moorings, they want to hook up to shore power, they want to be close to town … If Oceanside had 20 slips for large boats and they were never used, there might be an argument that additional slips are unnecessary.”
Bob McKay cited his 25 years in Boothbay Harbor and 110-ton Coast Guard license as he expressed concern for harbor safety during storms. McKay said most floats face a north-and-south direction to keep docked boats facing the unrelenting southwest winds, but that the proposal, having east-and-west facing floats, will subject side profile-situated boats to such winds. He said that poses a safety hazard to the inner harbor and footbridge. In addition to three-piling dolphins at the end of each float, McKay said there should be reflective markings on the dolphins and that besides those safety precautions, when the floats are taken out for the season or for upkeep, the standalone dolphins pose a risk to harbor navigation.
“I just hope the selectmen will carefully consider all of the concerns before making a final decision. Safe boating is my and everyone else’s primary concern,” said McKay.
Wolf asked the board to take into consideration, for vote, each criteria she laid out on the proposal – permits, no harm, and navigation. Coulombe’s Oceanside already had all necessary permits from outside the board’s purview, so the first criteria was taken as a given. The board voted unanimously that the second criteria had been met in the proposal. However, the third piece of criteria was split three-to-one, Denise Griffin with the dissenting opinion citing a concern with the increase in the number of boats and the safety of small crafts.
The board then took a motion to grant the license with Wolf and Griffin adding conditions. Wolf asked that the pilings and/or dolphins accompanying the floats be marked with a reflecting apparatus as well as a 10-foot berthing area on the south side of the float per the suggestion of Nick Upham, harbor master. Griffin’s condition was to add that boats not extend beyond the ends of floats into the channel and that maintenance of the floats be mandatory not just for this project, but for all future proposals coming to the board.
The board voted unanimously to grant Coulombe’s and Oceanside’s proposal.
Wolf announced a meeting for participants of the Joint Economic Development Committee and Camoin Associates study for a master plan on Thursday, Feb. 1 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The meeting will address a preliminary report on findings from the study.
Town Manager Tom Woodin brought forth a request for the board to accept Boothbay Region Land Trust’s annual voluntary donation of $472. The board accepted the transaction unanimously.
Woodin announced that the Wednesday, Jan. 9 budget meeting would be canceled since the planning board advisory work group was forced to reschedule during the same time. Budget meetings will continue as scheduled – Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. from next week until mid-March.
Finance officer Julia Latter presented the town’s financial information – year to date, revenue and expenses are $5,036,469 and $4,653,059 respectively. The bank balance is $2,614,858 and the accounts payable are $336,288.88.
The board appointed Selectman Mike Tomko as representative to the planning board advisory work group per the planning board’s recommendation.
The next selectmen’s meeting is 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22.