BELGRADE — A houseboat owner has approached Belgrade wondering if regulations exist for mooring — and town officials are wondering if an ordinance is needed for doing so.

“We need to figure it out before something happens, not be forced to deal on the fly,” Selectperson Melanie Jewell said.

To see if there is a need to create a houseboat mooring ordinance, the town will form a committee to decide and, if needed, draft it.

Some of the concerns the committee will address were raised at Tuesday’s selectboard meeting. They include:

• How to enforce a potential ordinance;
How to protect the rights of shoreline property owners;
What the environmental impact would be, including for disposal of garbage and how wastewater holding tanks would be emptied;
Where mooring might be allowed; and
Whether a harbormaster might be needed.

Eric Conrad, a spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association, said houseboats mooring on lakes is a trend in the South that’s gradually working its way north. While there is no trend in Maine yet, there have been some examples.

“They are catching the eye of (MMA) members and state people,” he said.

Sidney and Livermore Falls are among inland towns that have created ordinances. Sidney’s ordinance was drafted when a boat was moored in a dangerous area, according to town administrative assistant Angela Nelson. Voters approved that ordinance in 2017.

Last year, a Belgrade landowner complained that a person had moored a sailboat in front the landowner’s shoreland. According to Maine law, a boat may not be moored more than 200 feet from land, minus the boat’s length, Keschl told the board.

Belgrade shoreland owners pay higher taxes for access to and views of the water — views some property owners might not have if a boat moors nearby.

“Suddenly the houseboat has that view,” Conrad said.

Resident Shawn Grant told the board that he and his family “moored all over the lake” one summer while their house was being built, an experience about which his now-grown children fondly reminisce.

“I would hate to see some families not be able to enjoy the same experiences we did,” Grant said.

The committee will include year-round and seasonal land owners in shoreland areas. The town will also invite members of the 7 Lakes Alliance and the Belgrade Lakes Association.

Residents interested in participating on the committee may contact the town manager or visit the Town Office at 990 Augusta Road.


Abigail Austin — 621-5631
[email protected]
Twitter: @AbigailAustinKJ

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