Boothbay Harbor selectmen

Attendees balk at Hodgdon Marina expansion; selectmen nod proposal

Boothbay Harbor Waterfront Preservation objects to abutter’s wharf application
Tue, 04/27/2021 - 2:00pm

    Boothbay Harbor selectmen approved two contentious wharves and weirs applications April 26. Applicants were Hodgdon Yacht Services LLC at 85 McFarland Road and Joseph Doyle Living Trust at 61 Atlantic Ave. Hodgdon Yachts proposed to add a 100-foot x 12-foot float, two 50-foot x 8-foot finger floats to the east and northeast, an angled 73-foot x 8-foot float to a 100-foot x 8-foot float with three 30-foot x 8-foot fingers to the west extending from the 75-foot x 8-foot float. The expansion would create enough room for 12 slips, said Hodgdon Marina’s Sandy Spaulding.

    Julie Degenhard was among Mill Cove homeowners speaking against the project. She said her property at 56 West St. has two rental units she relies on for retirement income and the project would adversely affect her business and the value of her property with noise, light and literal pollution. “I know you don't care about the noise that's going to be people partying all night keeping my tenants from being there. I know you don't care about the light that's going to affect our lovely evenings sitting out on the deck. But you should care about my business … I will lose renters because it's not a quiet, peaceful little cove anymore …The cove is just coming back environmentally, people were actually swimming there last year. Now we're going to have boats docking there, bilges being emptied.”

    Degenhard suggested a compromise: Give Hodgdon Marina the one pier out toward the north and see if and how the cove changes.

    Spaulding said the easement across Signal Point Homeowners Association accounts for many of the same concerns Mill Cove residents have. “The dockage agreement which we've provided to the town is maybe not draconian, but you can't have grills on or off the boat, we regulate noise and we're very careful to make sure this is not going to be some big party place. I don't know why you get that impression –”

    “Because I grew up on boats,” said Degenhard.

    “Well, that's not the way we run this business,” Spaulding said. “I don't think this is going to negatively impact your business. I think it's going to enhance it, actually.”

    Chair Mike Tomko said the board is bound by three criteria – that there are no navigational issues, no injury to abutters and all state and federal permitting is in hand. Only the Code Enforcement Officer and Boothbay Harbor Police Department can deal with a property owner’s failure to adhere to the laws. The board approved the application unanimously.

    “We're not perfect, but we understand people’s concerns and we're not interested in creating a bunch of noise, light pollution, devaluated property …,” said owner Tim Hodgdon. “If there's something we need to know about, don't let it fester and stew, but let us know about it and let us address it … We certainly don't want anyone's experience compromised … We're passionate about (our marina) and we want to see it be successful.”

    “(And) for our family to continue to own and operate this property it needs to be financially viable,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Audrey Hodgdon. “Without the revenue of some additional dockage, we'll have to reconsider the future of the marina which will likely result in public access to the waterfront disappearing.”

    Joseph Doyle Living Trust, adjacent to Boothbay Harbor Waterfront Preservation East Side Park, proposed a 204-foot x 6-foot pier, 40-foot x 4-foot runway, two 10-foot x 20-foot floats, and two 3-pile dolphins. BHWP President John O'Connell objected, citing injury to operations and navigational interference. He said the northwest corner, the only ingress and egress point for small craft like kayaks and paddleboards, has only 44 feet, one inch clearance with the proposed plan and is not enough room for large and small crafts. “We're expecting paddlers and kayakers to come in there, so that does affect us adversely. I understand if it's not a hazard to navigation, but it'd be very awkward for large boats to coexist too closely with the paddlers and such like.”

    O'Connell said a letter of notification from Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands did not reach BHWP and was sent to the physical building at 65 Atlantic Ave. despite the organization's mail being collected and deposited into a post office box at the Boothbay Harbor Post Office. “When they said there were no objections – we didn't know about it.”

    Tomko said he could not see any navigational issues especially after Harbormaster Jeff Lowell stated no objections; however, Tomko said he felt like BHWP had grounds for objection on the premise of injury. The board voted 2-1 to approve the Doyles' plans, Tomko dissenting and selectman Denise Griffin, abutter to the Doyle property, abstaining.

    Tomko announced the meeting would be Selectman Wendy Wolf’s last before the May 7 election. Wolf came to the board in 2014 in a one-year special election and was reelected in May 2018.

    Said Tomko, “Wendy came to us with a wealth of experience creating public policy ... She was the founding chief executive officer for Maine Health Access Foundation, she did college work back in Ohio where I hail from ... It feels like she's always been around. She's been a mentor, a resource with the pandemic. I cannot imagine us being a more fortunate town to have a caring healthcare professional be part of our policy and management.”

    Selectmen voted unanimously to grant Town Manager Julia Latter a 5.5% raise and one-time bonus of $2,000 for the effort and perseverance to keep the town going through the pandemic.