Loons move about on Togus Pond in Augusta on Saturday, May 21, 2022, as Edward Bachelder of Manchester and Pete Laney of Belgrade head out bass fishing. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald.

AUGUSTA — While a new state boat launch has greatly improved public access to Togus Pond, Augusta officials are considering an ordinance that would regulate docks and moorings and not allow anyone other than lakefront property owners to moor boats there.

Members of the Worromontogus Lake Association approached the Augusta City Council recently with proposed rules that would prevent docks or moorings on Togus Pond that would interfere with neighboring properties, become safety hazards or interfere with boat navigation and address concerns they said a recent uptick in interest in the pond has raised.

While the recent creation of a new state boat launch on Togus Pond has made it easier to access the lake by motorboat, Jerry Donahue, a lake association member who drafted the proposed ordinance, said even before construction of the boat launch, Togus Pond’s popularity was on the rise. The increase in interest has brought new concerns, he said, especially with no rules on the books for docks and moorings.

The proposed policy is based on similar ordinances adopted in Belgrade, Sidney and Winthrop.

“With so many people coming to the lake, and so many out-of-state folks coming in, what we’re seeing is property around the lake is becoming premium,” Donahue told city councilors at their Aug. 11 meeting. “And folks are buying that property with lake access. You may have a 25-foot-wide strip and you may have a dozen pieces of property associated with it.

“That was one of the concerns that came up. Can you put out 25 moorings there, or 25 docks? And in so doing, without ordinances or regulations, I could put my mooring out in front of Greg’s (Jolda, president of the lake association) house, or my dock in front of Greg’s house.”


City Councilor Eric Lind of Ward 4, who brought the proposal up for council discussion, said the ordinance is also meant to prevent people who do not own property on Togus Pond from having a mooring there.

As drafted, the ordinance would prevent those who do not own lakefront property from having a mooring on Togus Pond. It would also restrict property owners to one dock and one mooring for every 50 feet of shore frontage they have.

In Maine, the state owns all bodies of water larger than 10 acres, and by law the pubic can gain access to them by using public boat launches or unimproved land.

Augusta councilors agreed to have Cameron Ferrante, a lawyer working for the city, review the draft proposal put together by Donahue and report back to them.

Ferrante said most mooring ordinances allow those who do not own property on a body of water to seek a permit — usually from the harbormaster — for a mooring. The harbormaster would then determine the location of the mooring, if there is an adequate spot for one. Ferrante said the number of permits for moorings could be limited, and once additional moorings cannot be placed, people could go onto a waiting list.

Augusta’s consideration of a mooring and dock ordinance comes in the wake of the town of Winthrop’s adoption of a controversial moorings ordinance, which also restricts moorings to lakefront property owners.


Donahue said for the most part, docks and some moorings on Togus Pond now comply with the proposed new rules, which include regulations meant to prevent people from having a dock that extends into an area in front of a neighboring property. He said he could show councilors examples on Togus Pond of docks that originate in front of an owner’s property, but angle in front of someone else’s property.

Lind, who owns property on China Lake, said over the past few years, docks have been getting larger, with some extending so far and wide they interfere with people’s ability to use watercraft and move around a lake. He said a boat left unattended on a mooring and not checked can present a hazard and an environmental concern for water quality.

“Moorings, I think the limitation of them is good. It provides safe navigation. Togus (Pond) isn’t a large body of water,” Lind said. “It retains open water for public use, which, with the new boat launch, there is a lot more public use. It protects the health of the lake. You don’t want a boat parked out there unattended for a long time. I think it balances the rights of the property owners and access by the public.”

The ordinance would require docks and mooring buoys to be removed for the winter.

The draft of the ordinance requires existing docks and moorings meet the new standards, or be removed if they do not. Ferrante noted existing docks and moorings would be grandfathered and allowed to remain, unless a retroactivity provision were included in any ordinance the city adopts.

City Manager Susan Robertson said she is concerned that the draft ordinance stipulates Augusta’s code enforcement officers would be responsible for enforcing the new rules. She said the city’s code enforcement officers are “already very capped out trying to keep up with what we have, without additional items.”

“And we’d need to have a boat,” she said.

Robertson said city staff members could look into details of what enforcing the proposed new ordinance would require and report back to councilors.

A majority of councilors expressed interest in city officials looking into a dock and mooring ordinance for Togus Pond, which Lind said is the only lake in Augusta with a public boat launch usable by boats on trailers.

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