WAYNE — A boat rental business that moved recently to a property on the northern end of Androscoggin Lake has rankled some homeowners in the neighborhood, who feel that the operation has ruined the natural scenery and created environmental risks for the 3,800-acre lake, which determines many of their property values.

But other residents have supported the enterprise, which used to be located in Monmouth and last spring came under the ownership of Kristin Angell and Andrew Hench.

Angell and Hench now operate it out of their home on Leadbetter Road. Known as Beacon Boat Rentals, the business sits on almost 4 acres that straddle the road and slope down to Androscoggin Lake. It consists of a home office and a dozen boats that sometimes are kept on the property and sometimes rented out to vacationers staying at lakes across central Maine.

Using trucks and trailers, employees deliver the boats to the vacationers, who typically use them for a period of one week, Angell said. The employees then retrieve the boats and return them to the Wayne property, where they are washed and prepared for the next rental.

For 20 years, the business was owned and operated by Ed and Sherri Collins in Monmouth under the name Collins Boat Rentals.

Last spring, the new owners initially contacted Kenneth Pratt, Wayne’s code enforcement officer, before they opened to make sure they weren’t violating any rules, Pratt said. At the time, he recalled, he was led to believe they would just be operating an office out of their home.

But when he realized they were keeping boats on the property, Pratt went on, he instructed the business owners to apply for a special exception permit from the town Planning Board, which they did promptly.

The special exception permit is the standard license that anyone operating a business in Wayne must secure, said Ford Stevenson, Planning Board chairman.

After Angell and Hench applied for a special exception permit from the board and a public hearing was scheduled for June 16, more than 10 residents wrote letters opposing the proposal on the grounds that it would be an eyesore and could bring invasive species from other lakes back to Wayne.

Karen Babcock was among the letter writers. She’s a seasonal resident who lives with her husband, John Babcock, in a home on West Acre Road, overlooking Androscoggin Lake.

In an interview last week, the Babcocks expressed concern that the new business could bring the invasive species milfoil to Androscoggin Lake and lower their property values.

Variable leaf milfoil is a rapidly growing, aquatic plant that does not naturally occur in Maine, but that has been detected in about 40 Maine lakes, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. In Kennebec County, the invasive species has been detected in Annabessacook Lake, Great Pond and Messalonskee Lake, but not Androscoggin Lake.

But the business owners, Angell and Hench, stress that they are following the town’s conditions for protecting the lake and natural scenery. They have also corresponded with state environmental officials to ensure that they’re not jeopardizing the local ecology.

And as lakeside property owners, they said that they too have a great interest in not letting invasive species enter Androscoggin Lake. They also pointed out that area fishermen already drop their boats into the lake from a launch on Route 133, with little inspection to ensure they’re not carrying invasive species.

One Wayne resident, Jeb Murphy, wrote a letter to the planning board in support of the economic growth the new business was bringing to Wayne.

On July 6, the Planning Board approved a special exception permit for Beacon Boat Rentals that included a number of conditions.

To prevent invasive species from spreading to any local lakes, for example, employees must wash the boats before renting them, receive training in how to identify invasive species, keep a log of inspections and ensure that no runoff from the operation gets into Androscoggin Lake, according to the local permit.

The business must operate at least 100 feet from the high-water mark of the lake and plant enough evergreen trees along the sides of its property to reduce the visual impact on neighboring properties. The screening plan also is subject to approval by Pratt, the code enforcement officer.

Some of those conditions were incorporated after the Androscoggin Lake Improvement Corp. wrote a letter to the Planning Board, said Stevenson, the board chairman.

Both Stevenson and Pratt said they were confident those conditions, as long as they were followed, would protect the lake from any contamination.

Stevenson said the new business owners were not given any preferential treatment with regard to their permit application, as some opponents have suggested.

Acknowledging that some residents were concerned about the environmental and visual impact of the new business, Stevenson stressed that “we have very specific setbacks and environmental safety things in our ordinance to not damage the lake.”

The new business owners, he added, “are probably more in compliance (with town codes) than some camp owners.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

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Twitter: @ceichacker