2017-12-08 / Front Page

Harbor committee asks for more time

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


The Cape Elizabeth Ad Hoc Harbor Committee has been working for the last year on trying to come back to the council with recommendations to improve boat access at Kettle Cove, update the town’s coastal waters and harbors ordinance and marine resources section of the comprehensive plan and inventory boat moorings in Cape Elizabeth. The group is working to present its recommendations to the council in March, if the council accepts the committee’s request of a three-month extension to its Dec. 31 deadline. (Michael Kelley photo) The Cape Elizabeth Ad Hoc Harbor Committee has been working for the last year on trying to come back to the council with recommendations to improve boat access at Kettle Cove, update the town’s coastal waters and harbors ordinance and marine resources section of the comprehensive plan and inventory boat moorings in Cape Elizabeth. The group is working to present its recommendations to the council in March, if the council accepts the committee’s request of a three-month extension to its Dec. 31 deadline. (Michael Kelley photo) CAPE ELIZABETH – The ad hoc harbor committee is making progress updating the town’s marine ordinances and improving public water access for residents, but needs more time to complete the work and agreed last week to ask the town council for a three-month extension.

The committee, which includes James Casey, Stephen Culver, Susan Farady and town Councilor Caitlin Jordan and outgoing Councilor Kathy Ray, was charged last year to review the town’s Coastal Waters and Harbor Ordinance, meet with state officials to look at options for boat access at Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach State Park, update boat mooring mapping, inventory public water access and assist the Comprehensive Plan Committee with updating the plan’s marine resources chapter. The committee was given a Dec. 31 deadline to complete the work.

The committee has met 12 times since early February and is nearing completion of its work, but has requested a three-month extension to March 31.

Culver said the committee is close to finalizing its recommendations for the Coastal Waters and Harbors Ordinance and have met with state officials from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Bureau of Parks and Lands to determine the best option for boat access at Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach State Park and have inventoried the public access points in town, but still needs time to map the boat moorings and review the marine resources section of the comprehensive plan, which is scheduled to be reviewed by the Comprehensive Plan Committee in April.

The committee is recommending four changes to the coastal waters and harbors ordinance: defining houseboats, defining out-haul, eliminating “extreme” from a provision that deals with anchoring during emergencies and getting rid of the color reference where the ordinance mentions C1 can buoys.

“I would hope to have it done by March, otherwise it gets dragged out,” said Culver, who was chairman of the Nov. 28 meeting in Casey’s absence.

Farady said she was confident the committee could have its work wrapped up by then, should the town council honor the extension request.

“I feel we are close,” she said.

Stephen Harding, the town’s engineer who provides staff support to the group, said the only item that the committee might not be able to complete by then is GPS mapping of boat moorings.

“It is something we might be able to submit afterwards or submit the best information we have at the time,” Harding said.

The committee also took time to reflect on five recommendations the Cape Fisherman’s Alliance would like to see reflected in the harbor committee’s final report to the town council.

The Fisherman’s Alliance was officially formed a year ago to advocate for the working waterfront and includes 15 individuals, said alliance member Nate Perry, who runs Pine Point Oyster Company.

The group recommends the harbor committee support the repair of the boat launch on Kettle Cove Road, the introduction of an emergency-only/turnaround parking space, include information about why commercial vessels are typically assigned protected and deeper moorings at Kettle Cove and have to rely on nearby Stump Cove for launching, loading and parking. The alliance also asked the committee provide the physical boundaries of waterfront access points and maintenance responsibilities and finally acknowledge in the report the issues of overcrowding at Kettle Cove Beach and the more than adequate parking and potential hand-carry boat launch site at Crescent Beach State Park.

Perry asked committee members how the alliance’s recommendations might be taken into account.

Committee members said they have no problems including the alliance’s recommendations in the final report to council.

Culver told Perry that the alliance’s “input has greatly influenced the committee’s decisions. It was you guys who first brought up changing the access.”

“A lot of the recommendations from you guys are already going into the report one way or another,” Jordan added.

“Any interest group we’ve heard from, it’s in the minutes and the different documents we’ve received have been considered and they are all informing our recommendations,” Farady said.

The challenge of the committee’s work has been finding a way to balance public access without overwhelming resources.

“People love the water. That’s why they are here. They love the access and want to maintain that,” Farady said. “The trick is how to not love that to death and how to manage (access) with the increased demand.”

The committee will meet next on Tuesday, Dec. 12 when it will review the comments left on survey responses. Ray said it is important to note these in the report, along with results of other questions that asked where the public goes to access the coast and shoreline, how important that access is and how it could be improved. The vast majority of respondents indicated public access is extremely important with close to 74 percent visiting the shoreline several times during the week in June, July and August and 46 percent that same frequency September through May. The most popular activities include walking the beach, sightseeing, sunbathing, swimming and kayaking. The most popular access points were Fort Williams Park, Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach. The top recommendations in terms of improvements were more access points, better trails, more parking, restroom facilities and better boat launching.

“We don’t want to do too much interpreting. We should have the facts laid out so people can see them,” said Ray, who was appointed to the committee through her role as a town councilor, but would like to continue working with the group even after her replacement is sworn in. Farady supports that rather than another councilor be appointed so late in the committee’s review process.

Harding said one of the things that struck him while reading the responses to the public survey that was circulated earlier this year is “have we thought blue sky enough,” such as looking into the possibility of a boat launch for residential users in the Kettle Cove/Crescent Beach area.

Jordan said since Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach are state-owned and operated properties, the only thing the town can do in that regard or any other is advocate for particular changes.

“The town can’t do anything without the state being on board,” she said.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 237.

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