ALIC

June 10, 2016

New Boat Rental Business in a sensitive area

Filed under: Events & News,General Info — Buddy @ 9:33 pm

An application has been submitted to the Planning Board of the Town of Wayne to seek approval of a Special Exception Permit to allow a new boat rental company to set up business in the cove.

A complete copy of this application can be found here.

ALIC has already been contacted by a number of its members expressing concerns about the approval of this exception.  Concerns include the following:

  • not only R-2, but also R-4, zones are impacted
  • R-4 zoning protects lake front and must not be compromised
  • the new business would abut both the lake and sensitive tributaries to the lake
  • unless the new business has a plan for installing a fully contained boat wash, fragments of invasive plants could well install themselves downstream, in Androscoggin Lake
  • the new business does not seem to have a plan for mitigating and containing fuel spills

The ALIC Board of Directors will hold it’s next meeting on Monday, June 13th, 7pm, at the Williams House.  This topic will be on our agenda.  Board meetings are open to all;  attend if you are able.

A Public Hearing to consider this application will be held by the Planning Board at the Wayne Town Offices on Thursday, June 16th, at 7pm.

 

9 Comments

  1. We cannot attend this hearing but are stronly opposed to any such application. ALIC please let our position be known and thanks for all your hard wok.

    Comment by Charlie and Liz Crandall — June 11, 2016 @ 5:14 pm

  2. What is the name of the boat rental company? Where are they located? Are they on other Maine lakes? And what is their track record, if any, for this kind of
    business? Will they have a certified trained boat inspector?
    ALIC has worked very hard over the years to keep Lake Androscoggin as clean
    as possible and it hasn’t been easy. The lake is invasive free now and I would
    like to see it stay that way. Thank you.

    Comment by Jean Walker — June 11, 2016 @ 9:30 pm

  3. These are all good questions. I’m not sure of their track record. The names of the applicants can be found on the Application … click here to see a copy of the application. The Public Hearing will be held on Thursday, June 6th at 7pm at the Wayne Town Offices. These are some of the questions that we will try to raise at the hearing.

    Comment by Buddy — June 11, 2016 @ 11:55 pm

  4. June 12, 2016

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I would like to offer a simple, sincere opinion and public comment relating to recent notice of a possible “special exception” to permit the opening of a commercial boat rental facility on the shoreline of Androscoggin Lake. I am resolutely against commercialization and the establishing of any commercial boat rental businesses on the shoreline of Androscoggin Lake. I believe that the reasons for my opposition are cogent and should be well understood, if not wholly accepted, by those who consider them.

    Overview. Having reviewed the public application for “special exception” to open a boat rental facility on the shores of Androscoggin Lake, I would like to offer a public comment or opinion. I offer this as just one homeowner on the lake, but as someone who has known the lake all my life, and who lived on and near the lake year-round for many years.

    While I am generally in favor of entrepreneurial activity and favor all sorts of innovations, there are natural or advisable limits on such activities. In a narrow sense, these might be called “time, place and manner” restrictions. In a broader sense, they relate to the character, history, safety, public expectations, risks, impact on private property, predictable environmental impact, and aesthetics of the new development.

    In this particular case, I think granting the special exception at this time, in this pace and for this purpose would be detrimental to a wide range of local interests affected. Specifically, I would predict if not foresee adverse effects on the character, connection to past uses and practices (read: lake history), public safety, public and private expectations of those holding private property, and potentially both flora and fauna of a unique lake and lakeshore environment (e.g. varied animal and plant species), as well as aesthetics.

    Historical context. Historical context is probably the best starting point. I grew up on Androscoggin Lake, spending time on this lake all summer and all winter, fishing and observing. The Lake is and has always been a non-congested, privately-cared-for, and non-commercial lake. The Lake is defined by elements not found elsewhere, including:

    • A unique, vulnerable and consciously-preserved plant, bird and animal ecosystem;
    • A unique connection to one of New England’s most rare riverine environments (a rare two-way river and delta system);
    • A large and precarious reproductive environment for loons, which populate this lake in larger numbers than other regional lakes;
    • An unusual abundance of protected wetlands (more than regional lakes, based on the unique high inflow and outflow of riverine waters both spring and fall from the Dead and Androscoggin Rivers;
    • A slower pace and smaller number of watercraft than in many regional and State lakes, including conscious aversion to (read: ban on) single-person watercrafts;
    • A thoughtful and conscientious commitment by local citizens (who volunteer by groups at public launches) to assure 100 percent protection against inter-lake invasive species; and a relatively small number of cottage and homeowners, many of whom have maintained their properties and lake protection for multiple generations.
    This is not a large and populous lake, on the order of Sebago or even some of the other Maine lakes that tip commercial. This lake is essentially a small “village square” or “village green,” only it is “blue space,” water shared thoughtfully and deliberatively by those with a vested interest in the preservation of the unique ecosystem, slower operational tempo, mix of lake-wide swimmers, non-motorized canoes, kayaks, sailing boats and modest motor boats. This body of water, which is thoughtfully tended by residents of both Wayne and Leeds, is encircled by less than one hundred, mostly smaller, privately held cottages.

    Two self-contained, longstanding children’s camps – with children regularly in small ailing boats, row boats and canoes – are also a longstanding hallmark and institution on this small lake.
    Within this context, several specific arguments clearly mitigate against this any “special exception” that would now suddenly, even if incrementally, commercial this lake in the way being proposed. These reasons seem to argue convincingly, if not compellingly, against any such exception being granted now or in the foreseeable future. While appropriate on some lakes, the proposed venture would seem wholly inapt on this lakeshore.

    Concerns of Note. On its face, the proposed effort would appear to raise a number of concerns. These include concerns tied to the following issues:

    (1) Elevated risk of motorboat congestion. The predicted increase in boat traffic on this lake (since this lake would be closest to the commercial enterprise) would almost certainly elevate, even if gradually, the density of motorized boats on this relatively small lake, raising overall motorized congestion. Objectively, the character of this lake is already defined by an established number of privately held non-motorized (read: canoe, kayak, sailing) and established motorized conveyances. This is not a lake well positioned for more congestion. Notably, this would be true for up to “fifteen” new motorized boats, but the likelihood is that any successful enterprise would continue to expand and widen the risks posed by the initial elevation in congestion.

    (2) Elevated risk to public safety due to fluctuating water levels. While elevated congestion on the lake represents an obvious concern for public safety (evidence increased mishaps on lakes with larger numbers of motorized crafts, especially those renting commercially), that is only one public safety issue. This lake has special characteristics that uniquely raise public safety concerns for those not familiar with the lake, as many renters would not be. The lake is relatively shallow, with numerous rocks (dozens) unmarked within 200 feet of shore, and others further from shore suddenly appearing (or residing just below the surface) mid-season. Why? The lake has wildly oscillating water levels when open, varying by as much as ten feet in any given year – in some rare years, more. I have seen this all my life, and it represents a unique hazard for this lake. In short, this means that hypothetical renters run a high, constant risk of hitting rocks, endangering the renters, potentially raising liability levels for any commercial establishment, and presenting risk to other boat operators if rented boats are stranded and require rescue. With the rock issue comes added concern for the shoreline from more regular motorized mishaps, including gasoline seepage and spoilage.

    (3) Elevated risk to public safety due to proliferation of non-motorized watercraft. Beyond congestion and fluctuating water levels, both of which raise public safety issues, this lake has long been a model of non-motorized lake use. Every year, swimmers undertake to swim from one shoreline to another shoreline, at different points around the lake. This is especially true tied to the summer camps, and on the Western shore of the lake, occasionally from Yacht Club to Androscoggin Island, and periodically each summer for residents elsewhere. By way of personal reference, one neighbor of mine now swims across Frenchman’s cove annually with others; I swam with others to Androscoggin Island as part of swimming lessons years ago; one of my relatives swam from Lincoln Beach to Androscoggin Island. More importantly and more frequently, this lake is characterized by regular canoers, kayakers, small sailing boaters and an increasing number of standing water-boarders and wind surfers. Each of these n on-motorized conveyances are used by virtually every age of local resident, and often by the older and very young; the children’s camps at both ends of the lake all use sailing and canoeing around the lake daily. While local motorized users are well aware of the patterns of traffic and abundance of non-motorized craft in use, renters would raise the likelihood of serious collisions, and motorized mishaps. The abundance of non-motorized uses of the lake is somewhat unique, and even so, may help explain why motorized personal watercraft are not allowed on the lake.

    (4) Elevated risk to public safety issues from commercial boat rentals, generally. Rental of a watercraft on any lake implies less familiarity with a specific lake’s character, underwater obstacles (e.g. on the lake or river inlet/outlet), varying depths, uses and traffic patterns, including swimming and non-motorized boating habits, motorized boating practices, and other elements well known to property owners. More to the point, special care observing lake norms, assiduously protected by longtime property owners, may be absent. Thus, focus on respect for this lake’s extensive encircling wetlands (in abundance due to unique water level shifts and delta), keeping clear of the nesting loons, ducks, and turtles, steering clear of waters adjoining heavily populated summer camp areas, watching for children in specific swim/play areas, respect for private and public beaches and town properties, may all be missing. Habitually, those with no knowledge, and little vested interest in the established patterns, may be less inclined to know, absorb, understand and respect these lake-specific issues.

    (5) Elevated risk of environmental damage from invasive plants. This lake is unique for many reasons, only some of which are touched on above. The lake does not, for example, suffer heavy invasive plant damage – yet. Constant, unmonitored insertion in the lake of boats that are regularly trafficked on other lakes in the region or State, including those with notorious invasive plant damage raises markedly, if not exponentially, the chances of insertion of invasive species (or more than one) into this lake and unique river system. This would, by itself, seem reason enough to pause in granting commercial special exceptions tied to motor craft, but there are also other environmental issues worth consideration.

    (6) Elevated risk of environmental damage to rare nesting waterfowl. Common sense suggests that, as the number of motorized vehicles on the lake rises with proliferating commercial rentals, the dangers posed to nesting waterfowl will rise. Interestingly, this lake hosts more common loons than many in the State, and these are worth protecting. They are not the only waterfowl that may be affected by a proliferation of motorized rental boats. Other nesting species include, but may not be limited to, nesting common loons (uniquely comfortable with this lake and encouraged via nesting rafts), various species of ducks (some of which are encouraged with water-based houses), bald eagles (which have a long history on this lake, and had to overcome DDT issues to proliferate), multiple osprey pairs, blue herons, king fishers, and other less well known waterfowl.

    (7) Elevated risk of environmental damage to rare wetlands. Similarly, an elevated number of renter boats is likely to pose challenges to other wetland habitat, including flora and fauna. The lake is unusual, in that it boasts a significant encircling wetland environment. While property owners generally respect, tend and protect varied flora and fauna they own, or which sit contiguous, this is not likely to be the case for boats only on the lake for a day. The intent may not be to present any new issue, but a simple lack of familiarity with this unique lake and unique adjoining river system, including unique environmental aspects of both bodies, suggest the potential for a spike in environmental damage to the wetlands that characterize a large part of the shoreline.

    (8) Elevated risk of precedent triggering wider commercialization. An added consideration that should be pondered by those in a position to decide this issue relates to the precedent being set, if a special exception were to be granted. This lake is unique. Its vulnerabilities, ecosystem, linked ecosystems, flora and fauna, protected nature and private nature all make it a gemstone, and also different in fundamental ways from many other lakes in the State. The custodianship or stewardship of this unique lake and its nature has long been the domain, a shared concern, for both Wayne and Leeds, and has been largely and consistently protected through joint efforts to preserve the lake. The grant however of one special exception to commercialize the lake, or to open the door for a commercial rental operation on the shores of this unique lake, would create a precedent that would be – over time – hard to turn back. Just as years ago the lake was officially, legally and timelessly protected from the building of condominiums – at a time when other lakes were not subject to such protection and not so protected, this lake should now be protected against this kind of creeping commercialization of its shoreline, at least in this rather obvious and detrimental way. Often, those with less historical reference or context on which to draw, do not see or may not see the longer range impact of a near term decision on the future. But for what it may be worth, having loved and lived on or near this lake for most of my life, and with relatives who have done the same, I would like to ask that these issues and considerations be taken into full account as a final rendering of this request is made.

    With highest respect,

    Robert B. Charles,
    Former Wayne resident,
    Leeds property owner

    Comment by Robert B. Charles — June 13, 2016 @ 3:58 am

  5. Dear Buddy, do let us know the consensus at the June 6th meeting.This does not sound like a good thing for the lake. Will we need to hire a lawyer to protect us?

    Comment by Lois Dole — June 13, 2016 @ 2:31 pm

  6. We live in Saco and not sure we can make it to the public hearing. We summer on West Acres Rd and are definitely against having that business on Leadbetter Rd. Please speak on our behalf. Thanks, Jack Trull

    Comment by Kris and Jack Trull — June 13, 2016 @ 10:26 pm

  7. We submitted a letter to the Planning Board voicing opposition for many of the reasons mentioned. I agree with Mr. Charles’ post about the potential for increased traffic (and other points raised). We have already seen increased traffic with the boat ramp, and irresponsible and reckless behavior demonstrated by rental boat operators in the cove, especially last summer. There is not only an environmental concern, but one of safety–not only for the wildlife and swimmers, but for craft operators as well!!

    Comment by Janet (Perkins) Bernhards — June 15, 2016 @ 11:39 pm

  8. We will be unable to attend the Public meeting, June 16th, but strongly oppose a commerical venture in a residential zone, especially one on lake front property. At present, the proposed area looks like a disorganized boat junk yard, which may be indicative of what’s to come. Never mind the environmental impact.
    The loons who nest on that shore area and the Gottos would like to register their displeasure.Please speak on our behalf.
    Thank you,
    Tony and Anita Gotto

    Comment by Tony and Anita Gotto — June 16, 2016 @ 12:23 am

  9. We are unable to attend the June 16 meeting and sincerely hope that ALIC will do everything in it’s power to prevent the establishment of a boat rental business on Androscoggin Lake.
    Thanks you for all your efforts!
    Howard and Chris Stewart

    Comment by Howard and Chris Stewart — June 16, 2016 @ 5:07 pm

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