Two boats are moored in October 2022 at the south end of Maranacook Lake in Winthrop. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

WINTHROP — Winthrop residents support regulating mooring fields at the town’s 11 lakes, but not the individual moorings of shorefront property owners, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by the town.

The Mooring Committee, which was formed in July, sent out the survey to assess whether residents want to limit boats from setting anchor, after town councilors repealed an ordinance that sought to do just that, following sustained backlash from boaters.

“The whole point of the survey was to find out what the people in the town wanted. The town made all the efforts to get the questions out,” Councilor Anthony Wess said. “The committee is an independent entity, and so what they find out, we will take that input and move forward.”

The community survey addressed various factors of a potential new mooring ordinance, including regulating individual lakefront properties and mooring fields. It also raised the question of whether mooring fields at all of the town’s lakes and ponds should be regulated, or just those in certain areas.

Of the 365 people who responded, 71.5% opposed regulating the moorings of individual lakefront property owners. And most — 217, or about 60% — said they did not own property along the water themselves.

A question on whether the town should focus on regulating mooring fields was more closely split. A total of 200 respondents, or 54.8%, supported the idea, while 153, or 41.9%, did not. The other 12 respondents marked that they did not have an opinion.


The final question found that 48.7% wanted regulations to apply to all town waters, and 6.6% wanted them to apply to some.

“A mooring ordinance, if needed, will have to be effected townwide. It cannot be spot zoned,” said Town Councilor Roy Weymouth, rejecting the idea of applying rules to certain lakes but not others. “If they are spot zoning, it’s going to get the town in trouble.”

Town officials are now looking at ordinances that regulate mooring fields in other communities that fit the framework, including in Lamoine and Sidney.

“I have solicited information about ordinances in other towns with lakes and other coastal towns,” Town Manager Anthony Wilson said. “The committee will discuss the input in the next meeting. We have also asked our attorneys to be present in case the members of the committee have any questions.”

The next public meeting of the Mooring Committee is scheduled for Nov. 16.

The now-repealed mooring ordinance went into effect last year, aiming to clear town waters as part of a development project. Residents complained about the legality and need for such an ordinance, and said that one area, Norcross Point, was unfairly targeted by the policy, leading to the Town Council to revoke it and set up a committee to further assess Winthrop’s needs.

The seven-person committee has been conducting meetings over the past few months to discuss the need for an ordinance and its possible scope. A report on the group’s findings and recommendations must be submitted to the town manager before the Aug. 30, 2024, deadline.

The recommendations would then be presented to town councilors, who can accept them or call for a public referendum so voters can make the decision.

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