Yachting Solutions and Rockland City Council meet Feb. 14

Citizens opposing Rockland Harbor redesign craft petition ahead of Wednesday meeting

Posted:  Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 1:00pm
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ROCKLAND – As the Midcoast-based boating company Yachting Solutions presents plans for a harbor redesign and marina expansion Feb. 14 at the Rockland City Hall, a citizens group called Sensible Harbor Infrastructure Plan (SHIP) intends to be on site collecting signatures against the proposal.

SHIP, according to one of its members, Christo Calivas, of Rockland, is petitioning the City of Rockland and all relevant state and federal agencies, including those involved in environmental and water safety, to oppose the Yachting Solution project.

In autumn of 2017, owners of Yachting Solutions, which leases space from local businessman Stuart Smith, presented plans for a redesign of private ocean space. Yachting Solutions offers boatyard and marina services in Rockport and Rockland.

On Wednesday evening, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Rockland City Hall, the Council is holding a special meeting to hear a presentation of the company’s plans for reconfiguring parts of Rockland Harbor.

The proposed redesign includes adding a wooden breakwater, public and private piers and slots for vessels, as well as allowing slips for small cruise ships. As a result, several current moorings would be moved.

According to Council memo from Harbor Management Commission Chairwoman Louise MacLellan-Ruf, the commission first met with Yachting Solutions in November 2017, Landmark Engineering presented potential Public Landing and Buoy Park redesigns. 

“This is a major harbor expansion plan that will change the look and function of the harbor,” she wrote.

“Yachting Solutions and its investors are ready to make a significant investment to expand their facility and improve infrastructure to cater to visiting transient vessels,” MacLellan-Ruf continued. “In addition to ‘standard’ docks, the facility will provide ‘purpose‐designed docks and infrastructure to properly accommodate megayachts.’ YS assured the HMC that this expansion plan is not for the benefit of the cruise industry; rather, the expansion is to accommodate high end yachts.”

She said the redesign will add 2,600 linear feet of new dock space at the Yachting Solutions facility. That includes installing 100 amp and 480V 3-phase power, in-slip fueling, “and the conversion of an existing upland gazebo structure into a well‐appointed boater’s lounge.”

She cited a grant application submitted by Yachting Solutions that described the project as meeting, “a demonstrated demand for facilities in the region able to properly accommodate these larger vessels and their highly discerning owners, captains, and crews.”

The company is currently applying for permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maine Submerged Lands and Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The Harbor Management Commission, consisting of Rockland citizens, is suggesting the Council consider the following points (as written in its memo): 

  • YS/Landmark have agreed to provide a mock up, to City Council, of what the harbor view corridor will look like from the Public Landing.  Rockland has many people who sit in their cars at Harbor Park. What will their view look like with this expansion project?
  • What will happen with the existing undesignated channel?
  • Mooring ball displacement. At this time 28 mooring balls will need to be relocated. YS has agreed to pay for the relocations. They are aware there is no set price for relocating mooring balls as some of the mooring balls will require additional chain due to water depth increases. 
  • The return of the harbor view corridors along Ocean Street. YS relayed that this is a very doable project. Trimming the arborvitae allows access to our harbor view which is a win/win for the City and YS.  Improved landscaping on the Boardwalk and upkeep is aesthetically desired by Rockland and YS. In the spirit of goodwill YS agrees this spring is the time to start this landscaping project.  Community volunteers will collaborate on this project. City Manager Tom Luttrell has offered the use of Public Service vehicles to aid in cleaning up the refuse. 
  • Continued public access to the Boardwalk. The Boardwalk is an active part of the Mid-Coast community.  It is an integral segment of the Rockland Harbor Trail. Guaranteeing public access to the Boardwalk indicates YS commitment to Rockland.
  • Finally, the HMC recommends that the taxpayers of Rockland should not incur any costs associated with YS expansion project. 
  • The HMC appreciates that YS and its partners have reached out to us and the City for discussion and input. YS has expressed a willingness to remain engaged with the community and the City. Understandably they want the City to embrace their plan.  The HMC supports the Council and the City Manager to do what is best for Rockland. 

 

Meanwhile, the SHIP petitioners, which includes Rockland resident Ron Huber and Rockport resident Neal Parker, cite marine safety and compromised fishing as some of the reasons for opposing the Yachting Solutions project. They crafted the following: 

PETITION to the City of Rockland, Maine, and all relevant state and federal agencies, including environmental and water safety, to oppose the unreasonable development of Rockland Harbor as designed and presented by Yachting Solutions, et al. The proposal has a broadly negative impact which far outweighs any public benefit it may offer.    

 Safety issues are paramount. Some estimates place the additional boat traffic at three times more or greater if the long standing South Channel is removed. It would mean that all existing traffic will be forced into the Federal Channel.

 Environmental problems could be caused by dredging the natural contours of the shore. That, coupled with the ongoing potential for spillage of fuel and wastewater into the harbor, will have an environmental impact

 Fishing activities in the area would be compromised and further limited in scope.

 Public views of Rockland Harbor and Penobscot Bay will be obliterated by the new piers, floats and large yachts. The most affected areas will include all of Harbor Park and the existing MBNA boardwalk.

 Moorings belonging to fifty or more local mariners would be removed and relocated. The resultant overcrowding of the mooring field would dislocate many other boat owners.

 Traditional Public Use and enjoyment in the area of the development would be compromised for the benefit of the few Mega Yachts.

 A Million Dollars of your taxes has been given to a private company, Yachting Solutions to commence this project, with no appreciable benefit to Rockland or the public at large. Yachting Solution, its private investors, and wealthy Yacht owners are the primary beneficiaries!

 

Related story

 Mooring owners weigh in on proposed Rockland Harbor redesign