Three boats are moored June 16 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 file

WINTHROP — A handful of residents will be reimbursed a total of more than $1,000 the town had charged them for access to public documents related to the controversial boat mooring ordinance that has since been repealed.

The Town Council voted Monday to pass a motion repaying the assessed fees, with municipal officials describing the charged amounts as unfair.

“The ex-town manager decided the price,” said Town Councilor Bruce Burns, who introduced the motion. “I think a lot of associated charges were expensive. The people were taken advantage of, and it wasn’t fair.”

The former town manager in question was Jeff Kobrock, who came under fire for his handling of the mooring rules and ultimately resigned earlier this year, citing “bullying and harassment” from critics.

Local boaters had made a number of Freedom of Access Act requests as part of their opposition campaign to the mooring ordinance, publicly posting documents they said showed a conflict of interest between town officials and local businesses that stood to benefit from the rules.

Kobrock indicated in the documents that the ordinance was intended to specifically target moorings at the popular Norcross Point area of Maranacook Lake. Then-Council Chair Sarah Fuller also acknowledged in one of the records she should abstain from voting because of a conflict of interest with a business there, although she later did not abstain and voted to enact the rules.


Release of the records also prompted legal threats against the town, contributing to a tense backdrop in which both Kobrock and Fuller ultimately stepped down. 

Current Winthrop Town Manager Anthony Wilson said he agrees the fees charged were not fair. Wilson noted that under the state law, residents can be charged 2 cents per page and up to $25 per hour for compiling public documents.

So far, three residents are listed to get reimbursed. Mike and Miranda Ketchens will receive $325.20 and $100, respectively. Another person on the list is the new town councilor Roy Weymouth, who is expected to get $890.40 in reimbursement for his request, which is also why he abstained from voting on the issue Monday.

Bernard “Roy” Weymouth Contributed photo

On Oct. 31, 2022, the Kennebec Journal made a request for some of the same documents, and Kobrock responded by email that when he “fulfilled this FOAA recently, the charges for copies (excluding time to prepare the FOAA response) was $205.20.” The newspaper declined to pay and instead visually inspected the documents at the town office.

The final tally of Monday’s vote for the reimbursements was five members voting in favor, Weymouth abstaining and Elizabeth Peters voting against the motion. Peters could not be reached for a comment on why she voted no.

Weymouth said he paid the amount to obtain 20 pages of documents, which included the redevelopment plan for Norcross Point that he could have accessed through the town website without paying. He added that he was denied access to numerous other documents that believes could have shown mishandling of the situation.

“I believe that amount to access documents was suggested as a deterrent to go after them,” said Weymouth. “This is a great gesture from the current administration to mend fences and move forward and beyond the controversies the town has been mired in.”

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