One of several signs explaining the Winthrop’s new mooring rules is seen at the south end of Maranacook Lake in April. Local boaters recently launched a petition for the town to reconsider the policy requiring shorefront ownership in order to set anchor. While the rules affect 11 bodies of water in the town, the signs appear only near Norcross Point, and boaters who use that area said the lack of consistency left them feeling unfairly targeted. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

WINTHROP — Local boaters are circulating a petition against Winthrop’s controversial mooring ordinance, as they believe it unfairly targets boaters in the cove near Norcross Point and that there is no legal basis for the town to enforce the rules.

The ordinance prohibits anyone who does not own shorefront property from setting anchor in any body of water in Winthrop within 200 feet of the shoreline. The town gave boaters until July 6 to remove the now illegal moorings or face fines.

Weeks after that deadline, some boaters have defiantly kept their moorings in the water and are working to show the town through a petition that many of its residents do not support the new rules. They are not seeking to overrule the ordinance through a referendum but rather to collect enough signatures to convince the Town Council to reconsider the policy.

“We the undersigned respectfully pray, ask and demand that the Winthrop Town Council VACATE that vote and further place said mooring ordinance on moratorium for a minimum of one year to allow time to work out clearer details and find a more viable solution to the current mooring issues,” the document reads.

Petitioners believe they were personally targeted, as the town placed numerous large signs specifically near the Norcross Point area warning boaters of the ordinance, however no signs were placed around any other lakes or ponds in Winthrop, of which there are roughly a dozen.

Winthrop Town Manager Jeff Kobrock said in April that Norcross Point was the only area with the signs, and the mooring ordinance is part of the redevelopment project, but not a “major element.”

“The Norcross redevelopment is really an attempt to refresh a heavily used and very much beloved public recreation area,” he said in April.

While some boaters have removed their moorings since the ordinance was passed, others are keeping their moorings in the water as they see no legal basis for the town’s enforcement of the ordinance. The town is sending letters to anyone in violation of the ordinance that request “voluntary compliance,” or else be subjected to a fine of $100 to $5,000 per day.

Below the notice, Kobrock is listed as the town’s “Mooring Officer,” which some petitioners say is not a legitimate title.

Boater Branden Sandler said he spoke directly with the state’s Harbor Masters Association, and was told that “you can’t just repurpose the term ‘mooring officer’ from Harbor Master, there’s no such thing.”

Sandler said he was also told that it is “not even remotely legal” to put signs up in just one area when the ordinance affects 13 bodies of water, as it specifically targets certain boaters.

Branden Sandler, from left, his wife, Kathryn, father, Lee Sandler, Chris Curtis and Ray Cook stand in front of moored boats on Maranacook Lake Wednesday in Winthrop. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

For these reasons, some boaters are refusing to move their moorings from the water.

They are hoping to submit the petition by the end of this month for the council to consider during its next meeting on Sept. 12.

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