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Town of Falmouth, Maine
271 Falmouth Road
Falmouth, ME 04105
(207) 781-5253

January 10 Agenda Item 2
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Public hearing regarding an amendment to the Coastal Waters Ordinance that would reduce shore front property lot width requirements for riparian rights designation; allow riparian rights to lots with waterfront access rights; and allow 20 additional moorings at Handy Boat.
ACTION: Determine whether to add an order to approve the amendment at a future meeting.
Jan 10, 2011 Update - The Harbor/Waterfront Committee has voted to recommend the proposed ordinance amendment with one change. They are recommending the Council change the amendment to increase the cap on how many moorings are issued via indirect riparian access rights - from 150 to 250 moorings. The Committee issued this recommendation at its meeting on January 3, 2011.
The Coastal Waters Ordinance currently allows riparian rights to any shorefront property with at least 100 feet of shore frontage. There is no consideration of riparian rights to property with indirect rights (open space and rights of way) to water frontage. State law allows by Home Rule a reduction in frontage through local ordinances. Moorings are granted through four points of access - Town Landing, Handy Boat, Portland Yacht Club and riparian rights.
We have received a recent request for riparian access mooring rights from a property owner with 70 feet of direct water frontage. We reviewed past practice and discovered that 19 moorings have been issued in the past to properties with less than 100 feet of frontage.
With regard to other water access rights either through common open space or rights of way, we have discovered that there has also been a past practice to issue moorings via riparian rights. Approximately 86 moorings are currently issued with these types of rights which are not in conformance with the Coastal Waters Ordinance.
We have attempted to take an inventory of all properties with either direct water frontage (see attached Riparian Access Memo) and indirect access (see attached Map and Analysis). There are many properties that could be eligible to receive a mooring via riparian access if we applied the same standard to everyone - non conformance of the Ordinance. The inventory of the indirect access points is not all inclusive. We believe there are other areas such as Waites Landing that should be included in the inventory.
There are 46 parcels which have less than 100 feet of frontage. If we allowed access to all properties without any frontage limits and all property owners requested a mooring via riparian rights, we would need to issue 27 new moorings because 19 parcels already have a mooring either through one of the three common access points or non-conforming riparian access.
Of those properties with indirect access and identified in the inventory, we believe the exposure is only those properties north of Waites Landing. The other properties are unlikely to seek a mooring in a location other than the river which will not affect the overall anchorage. We believe there are approximately 225 +/- properties in this category above Waites Landing. Of those properties, approximately 86 already have moorings via riparian right (non conforming). This means there is the potential to have approximately139 +/- more moorings if everyone submitted an application - an unlikely scenario.
Chief Tolan, Harbor Master Twombley and Nathan Poore have reviewed the information, past practice and considered the potential impact on the harbor. We believe that there is room for more boats in the anchorage via riparian rights and that an ordinance amendment could be drafted to bring non-conforming riparian rights into conformity. We suggest that there be a limit on how many moorings are issued via indirect riparian access rights in the range of 150 to 250 moorings. This could eventually result in an additional 164 +/- moorings (at the high end to the cap range - the difference between 250 and the current 86 moorings with indirect non-conforming riparian access) but we do not anticipate an aggressive increase/demand for moorings based on few inquiries in the past. A cap is recommended because of the potential exposure due to the number of properties with riparian access and the uncertainty related to anchorage impact and demand in the long term. We want to make sure there is a good balance between all access points and access for residents that do not have water front rights.
With regard to the remaining 27 parcels with less than 100 feet of frontage, we recommend allowing moorings via riparian rights to all of these properties. There is little potential impact and a cap is unnecessary.
The final amendment proposal is related to Handy Boat Services. They currently have permits for 40 rental and service moorings, the maximum allowed by the Falmouth Coastal Waters Ordinance (9-94 (j)(1). They are requesting the ordinance be amended to allow up to 60 mooring assignments to increase the number of rental moorings available to customers. Harbormaster Twombley said there is ample room in the anchorage south of Handy Boat Services to accommodate these moorings with space remaining for future permits (see attached screenshots of anchorage).


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