2014-06-05 / News

Harbor commissioners amend documents

By Margo Sullivan

Last-minute changes to the harbor management plan are almost ready for the June 16 public hearing, the Harbor Commission learned at its May 28 meeting.

The meeting was the second for the harbor commissioners in May. It was scheduled to help them prepare for the public hearing on revisions to the harbor management plan and the harbor ordinance.

But the final version is not quite ready, the commissioners decided. They agreed to meet again on June 11 to nail down outstanding issues connected to the final list of changes that the state coastal council is requiring.

According to Police Chief Ed Mello, the final edits represented “very insignificant changes” and were meant to bring the management plan into conformity with the ordinance. As Mello put it, they are companion documents.

“You cannot have one without the other,” Mello said.

But during the plan review, the commissioners combed through the document and discovered errors, which raised questions about corresponding language in the ordinance.

For example, in the financing section, a line was crossed out about the use of lease money from Fort Getty, implying that those funds in the future would not be applied to maintaining the waterfront assets.

“I don’t remember agreeing to that,” said Chairman Michael de Angeli.

Mello agreed with de Angeli. The strike-through had been made in error, Mello said.

To settle another question, Commissioner Pat Bolger agreed to look at Mello’s shoreline inventory to verify the number of state rights-of-way that already have moorings.

Traditionally, de Angeli said, residents who live within 1,000 feet of the right-of-way could request a mooring there. Now, per the Coastal Resources Management Council, the general public can apply if the mooring field has already been opened.

Bolger believes moorings have been issued on no more than four or five of the 13 CRMC rights-ofway in Jamestown.

On another topic, Commissioner Ed McGuirl said the boundaries of the conservation areas were not identified correctly in the plan. According to de Angeli, the language in the ordinance correctly described the conservation areas and the same wording should be used in the plan.

Moreover, de Angeli said, he would like to add language about harbor financing per Councilor Mary Meagher’s suggestion. Meagher wanted to clarify where infrastructure grant money is supposed to go to maintain the waterfront assets named in the harbor inventory.

Mello pointed out, however, that the other councilors have not yet discussed whether they want to change the way harbor is financed.

“The council as a whole has not taken a position on that,” he said. “I have no suggested language. The ordinance you adopted and approved is already submitted. Any change they choose to make to finance is really in their hands at this point.”

Also, Mello said, it’s too late to advertise a new version prior to the public hearing.

As an alternative, de Angeli offered to draft a letter proposing a list of amendments that the councilors on June 16 could adopt to correct the ordinance.

“As much as I’d like to believe we’re going to get this 100 percent,” Mello said, minor revisions will inevitably come up, even after the council and the state accepts the documents.

However, according to de Angeli, now is the time to finish making all the revisions. The commissioners combed through the plan and found other minor mistakes, such as an out-of-date statement about a repair project that has already been completed.

Finally, Bolger reminded the commissioners that the council also has asked for an exact count of the moorings issued to residents and to nonresidents. Turning to Mello, he asked if the numbers are available.

Mello said they are. He did not have them on hand, but he will report those totals at the June 11 meeting.

The CRMC wants to see Jamestown maintain a 3-1 ratio, meaning one mooring should be assigned to a nonresident for every three moorings assigned to residents.

“We’re getting close,” Mello said. “We’re not there yet.”

Harbormaster Sam Paterson said Jamestown does not give preference to residents, however. Everyone who applies goes on the waiting list, he said. In some years, more residents than nonresidents have received a mooring, while in other years, the opposite happened. Therefore, Paterson says he can’t take any action to improve the ratio for the nonresidents.

Bolger said the important point is that there is no bias.

“We’re under an obligation to monitor that ratio,” Mello said.

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