DRESDEN — The Planning Board, after a public hearing Tuesday, unanimously approved a new smelt camp near Cork Cove in the Kennebec River.

Roger Bintliff, a former manager at the Senator Inn & Spa in Augusta, proposed opening Cork Cove Smelt Camps on his property at 739 River Road, where winter fishing camps used to be on the property a decade ago under a different owner.

Now that the board has approved his proposal, Bintliff needs approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection before he can begin operation. The smelt season typically begins in late December or early January, and Planning Board Chairman Jeff Pierce said Bintliff can pick up his conditional-use permit Thursday.

“My intention has been to provide access for people to use the property for smelt camps,” Bintliff said. “There seems to be a very sizable demand.”

In 2016, smelt camps in Maine were able to operate only for a few days, if at all, because of warm weather and a lack of ice. Last year, camp owners had more success with colder temperature and more days in operation.

Pierce said Bintliff presented the Planning Board with a map and plan to start his business with about 10 shacks. Bintliff would like to be operational during the upcoming ice fishing season, which will start soon, once the ice has frozen enough to support the weight of the shacks and anglers.

The Planning Board held a site visit Sunday on the property, and Pierce said it was clean and neat. Pierce said the previous property owner and smelt camp operator used to have people park on the neighbor’s property, which the Planning Board doesn’t advocate.

Allen Beaver, a neighbor, expressed concern about a “no trespassing” sign Bintliff has posted on his property. He said he wouldn’t want a smelt fisherman not knowing where to go because of the sign and wind up coming onto his property.

“As an abutter, I don’t want his customers in my driveway or on my property because they don’t know how to get to his property or where his business is located,” Beaver said. “I think it’s important his business gets property signed.”

Bintliff acknowledged Beaver’s concern and said he would remove the “no trespassing” sign. He said he wants people to have a clear understanding of where his business will be located and where they can or cannot park to get access to the camps.

Some neighbors expressed to the Planning Board concern about trash being left behind by smelters, including beer bottles and other debris. Pierce said wind in the area of the business can be unpredictable, and he said Bintliff would be responsible for keeping the campsite and riverfront clear of debris.

“If there are debris complaints, we will rescind your conditional-use permit,” Pierce said.

Beaver said he wants Bintliff to be held accountable for making sure the shoreline is kept clean and well-kept, especially after the spring thaw.

Pierce said Bintliff will have to figure out a way to have enough garbage cans around the property and keep them from blowing around.

“We ask that you’ll have trash cans located around your camp, and maybe you can have a bungee around them and can take care of them daily,” Pierce said.

Bintliff’s property is 2.4 miles from James Eddy Smelt Camps, which has operated in Dresden for more than 50 years. Pierce said Bintliff probably will start small and see how things go at the beginning before expanding to a larger camp.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: