The Bremen harbor master has again denied an application for a mooring permit filed by the owner of the fishing vessel Columbia.
Doug Wood’s application to receive a mooring permit for the fishing vessel was denied by Bremen Harbor Master Melanee Osier-Gilbert following a review prompted by a ruling of the Bremen Board of Appeals overturning a previous denial of Wood’s application.
The harbor master’s decision was announced during the Bremen Board of Selectmen meeting on Thursday, Feb. 4.
“(Wood) has 14 days if he wants to appeal it and we are waiting to see what he does,” Selectman Wendy Pieh said.
Bremen town attorney Jonathan Hull said if the 14 days pass without an appeal being filed, the board of selectmen will determine whether there have been any violations.
Potential violations include bringing an abandoned vessel inside Bremen’s waters without notifying the harbor master and dropping a mooring without the authorization of the harbor master, according to Hull.
According to a letter signed by Osier-Gilbert and dated Jan. 27, the denial was decided after she considered all the documents and evidence submitted during the months of November and December 2015.
Osier-Gilbert met with the harbor committee Jan. 25 to discuss the matter.
According to the letter, Wood had been notified of the Jan. 25 committee meeting and the meeting was held to give Wood an opportunity to present any evidence or argument he felt was pertinent to the pending decision by the harbor master.
The harbor master’s letter lists several reasons for the denial of the permit, including that mooring a vessel of the size and tonnage of the Columbia is inherently unsafe in any location in Bremen waters; the location where the vessel is currently moored in Greenland Cove is exposed to storms, high winds, and waves, especially from the south; and the location of the vessel obstructs a navigation channel, particularly as the vessel swings on its single mooring.
Additionally, the harbor master’s letter states the vessel is in an unsafe condition with significant structural issues, the vessel has no ability to move on its own should an emergency require relocation, the vessel is without power to operate pumps and remove bilge water, and the vessel is not insured as required by the harbor master.
The harbor master’s decision marks the second denial of a mooring permit for the Columbia in Greenland Cove.
Wood appealed the first decision, leading to a hearing before the town’s board of appeals.
In a 5-2 vote on Dec. 30, 2015, the Bremen Board of Appeals voted to overturn the harbor master’s original decision to deny issuing a mooring permit for the fishing vessel, upholding Wood’s appeal on the basis that the harbor master’s decision to deny his permit application was based on speculation more than facts.
The Dec. 30, 2015 hearing followed a series of meetings on the issue held by the harbor committee and the Bremen Board of Selectmen.
In late November 2015, an initial application for a mooring permit filed by Wood was denied because he did not yet have ownership of the vessel, a requirement to attain a mooring permit in Bremen waters, according to the town’s harbor ordinance.
On Dec. 11, 2015, Wood turned in a completed mooring application to the Bremen Town Center after he received a letter containing the boat’s bill of sale from the fishing vessel’s last documented owner, Alan Curtis, of New Bedford, Mass.
Wood’s acquisition of the boat’s bill of sale appeared to end a lapse in documented ownership of the vessel dating back to 2011.
Wood towed the Columbia to Greenland Cove from Pemaquid Harbor in Bristol on Nov. 9, 2015.
Prior to its arrival in Greenland Cove, the Columbia had sat abandoned in Pemaquid Harbor since early 2014, until the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry declared the vessel abandoned under state statute and gave Wood permission to move the vessel in November 2015.