Three boats are moored Friday in the cove at the south end of Maranacook Lake in Winthrop. Officials have lifted a long-disputed policy requiring boaters to own shorefront property in order to set anchor. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

WINTHROP — Boaters are allowed to moor in town waters without restriction this summer after officials repealed a controversial policy that went into effect last July.

In a special meeting Thursday, the Winthrop Town Council voted to form an ad hoc citizens committee that will spend a year reviewing the town’s mooring ordinance and coming up with recommendations.

The prior policy, which drew sharp condemnation from some local boaters, had banned anyone who did not own shorefront property along one of the 11 bodies of water in town from setting anchor. Since the ordinance went into effect last July, the town has logged 10 violations, according to Code Enforcement Officer Mark Arsenault.

But those rules are now repealed until the committee’s review is complete.

Members voted 4-1 in favor of the motion Thursday, with Elizabeth Peters opposing. James Steele and newly elected councilor Roy Weymouth recused themselves from the vote.

Weymouth said he recused himself because he had been involved in the efforts to undo the ordinance in the past and moors his boat at Norcross Point, a popular area on the southeast side of Maranacook Lake that was targeted by the ordinance.


“The council has finally taken a step in the right direction to getting everything resolved,” Weymouth said. “It shows the community that the council has finally realized that they need to do the right thing and they have made the initial step to make it happen.”

The committee members will have a year to thoroughly review the mooring ordinance and report to the Town Council with recommendations. The Town Council will either accept the recommendations as presented or allow voters to decide through a referendum.

“It’s simply a different approach to try to engage more citizens in the process,” said Town Manager Anthony Wilson, who began his role as Winthrop’s top administrator earlier this month.

The ordinance – which aimed to limit moorings in town waters as a part of a redevelopment plan – has been a topic of heated discussion over the past year leading to numerous complaints from residents, who questioned the validity or even the need for such an ordinance.

Wilson said one of the first questions the committee will have to mull over is if the town needs a mooring ordinance in the first place.

“And if the answer to that is yes, then they are going to look at what had been in place and determine what should be recommended for approval,” Wilson said. “If there should be any additions or if some things need to be deleted altogether. All the ideas are on the table.”

Further discussions regarding who will be on the committee and clarifying its functions will occur during the upcoming Town Council meeting on June 27.

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