Council backs harbor stand on marine discharge law
The Town Council voted 4-0 to forward a letter from the Harbor Management Commission to the state after the commision recommended that the council take appropriate steps to seek repeal, substantial amendment, or, at minimum, delay in implementation of the state’s new no-discharge law for boats.
Harbor Management Commission Chairman Michael de Angeli presented his letter to the councilors, urging that they consider asking the town’s state legislators to take action concerning the new marine no-discharge legislation mandated by the state.
In a fervent discussion at Monday’s regular Town Council meeting, de Angeli noted that harbormasters from around the state all agreed that this was a bad law. He said that the legislation is not a no-discharge law to prevent pollution; it is an inspection law. The mandate requires all boats with sleeping accommodations to display a sticker or be denied a mooring permit.
However, the law does not penalize boats tied to private or commercial docks that do not require mooring permits.
De Angeli emphasized that although the legislation goes into effect on June 1 of this year, all boats issued mooring permits before that date are exempt until next year. However, in 2007, over 1,000 boats in the Jamestown area will be affected and will require inspection, a task that is impossible to accomplish without the exorbitant expense of employing and training adequate personnel, de Angeli said.
“The harbormaster can’t be expected to inspect over 1,000 boats before they are issued permits,” he said. “He wouldn’t have time to perform his regular duties, like patrolling the town waters,” the harbor committee chairman noted.
In his letter to the council, de Angeli explained that the new laws make it mandatory for all boats operated or moored in state waters for more than 30 days display “an approved ‘no discharge certificate decal’.” The only exceptions are open boats without sleeping accommodations and vessels for hire licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry six or more passengers.
The letter continues to say, “these decals are to be issued only after inspection of all marine toilets and associated equipment by a certification agent, and, presumably, after any necessary repairs or modifications have been effected. Fees of $10 per decal and $25 per toilet are to be collected. The decals are to remain effective for four years, after which the inspection process will have to be repeated. The certification agents include marinas and boatyards capable of installing marine sewage disposal equipment, certified pump-out facilities, the Coast Guard and its auxiliary, the Narragansett Bay Power Squadron, and harbormasters and assistant harbormasters.”
De Angeli orally noted again that every four years over 1,000 boats will be required to go through this process in a short period of time.
The letter also questions the requirement of pump-out logs, as well as a final concern that the law puts the harbormasters in the business of inspecting boats, which has historically been the role of the Coast Guard. The harbor commission considers this a dangerous and undesirable precedent, in addition to being unfunded and unworkable, the letter noted.
State Representative Bruce J. Long (R-Jamestown, Middletown) said that he and state Senator M. Teresa Paiva Weed were working to have the effective implementation date of the mandate postponed.
Ball field maintenance
Town Administrator Bruce Keiser reported that benches and backstops have been repaired or replaced as needed on the town baseball fields. The improvements and repairs are taking place in a timely manner to be ready for the upcoming season, he said. He noted that School Superintendent Katherine Sipala said that school funds are available to help with the maintenance and repairs since the school uses the facilities.
Keiser also said that if issues can be worked out with the Narragansett Tribe, irrigation can improve the fields a great deal. He felt optimistic about resolving the issues.
Weaver’s Cove LNG project
A letter from Paiva Weed and Bruce Long to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concerning Weaver’s Cove requesting that the FERC require the preparation of a supplemental environmental impact statement for the Weaver’s Cove Liquid Natural Gas project.
The letter says that taking this action is appropriate and needed because Weaver’s cove energy has proposed changes to the manner in which LNG would be brought to the proposed facility, and the proposed changes could have a significant cumulative impact on the environment, which has not been evaluated.
Weaver’s Cove is proposing to use smaller vessels to transport the LNG because the smaller ships could be accommodated without making any navigational improvements. The proposal raises serious concerns and new issues that merit full analysis pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.
The use of smaller vessels would substantially increase the number of ships carrying LNG into the bay. Furthermore, the proposal suggests that LNG ships “ride the tide” to navigate the channel and berth the vessels. Reduced channel depths limit steerage ability, with significant safety implications. Increased vessel movements timed to tides reduce the ability to mitigate transit conflicts.
The council unanimously accepted a letter of resignation from Patrick Bolger of the Conservation Commission. They also unanimously voted to reappoint Jennifer Talancy to the commission, and to appoint Patrick Driscoll to fill the vacancy left by Bolger. A letter of resignation from Richard Hutchinson of the Water Resource Protection Committee was also unanimously accepted.
Upon a recommendation of the facilities committee for the harbor commission, the council unanimously approved a proposal submitted by Town Engineer Michael Gray for the RT Group, Inc., of East Providence to provide engineering services for the townowned Ft. Getty improvements project for a total cost of $8,160.
To address concerns voiced by Jamestown Shores residents during open forum and letters received concerning environmental health, well pollution, and overdevelopment in the Jamestown Shores area, Councilor Barbara Szepatowski suggested forming a committee.
She recommended assembling a group similar to the Wildlife Committee that did such a good job on the deer issue. She suggested that a committee focused on the issues concerning the Shores could gather the pertinent information, analyze the problems, and make recommendations for the council to take action.
Town Council Vice President Julio DiGiando concurred with Sepatowski that a committee was a good idea.
Council President David Long said he was not opposed to the suggestion, but he wanted time to think about the goals of the committee before taking action. He also thought it would be wise to consult with the town administrator and town engineer to get their input before a committee was formed. The council put the matter on the agenda for the next council meeting.
Licenses and permits
All applications for the following holiday licenses and permits were signed and approved except for Page’s Liquors for the noted reasons.
• R & R Gallery, 47 Conanicus Ave., Unit 5.
• Narragansett Café, 25 Narragansett Ave.
• Video Showcase, 28 Southwest Ave.
• Secret Garden, 12 Southwest Ave.
• Tricia’s Tropigrille, 14 Narragansett Ave.
• Chopmist Charlies, 40 Narragansett Ave.
• Dutch Harbor Boat Yard, 252 Narragansett Ave.
• Cumberland Farms Store #1108, 41 North Main Rd.
• Grapes & Gourmet, 9 Ferry Wharf.
• Portuguese American Citizens Club, 11 Pemberton Ave.
• Page’s Liquors, 30 Southwest Avenue (department directors signatures in route.
• Jamestown Boat Yard, 60 Dumpling Drive.
• Jamestown Designs, 17 Narragansett Ave.
BFI Waste of Fall River/Allied Systems applied for a trash collector’s renewal. The department director’s signature is in route and the application will be approved.
In other business, the council unanimously approved an award of bid to FireMatic of Mass. for a self contained breathing apparatus, cost not to exceed $134,960.
Yesterday, the Town Council planned to hold a work session with the wildlife committee to discuss its recommendations to regulate the deer population.