HARRISON — Harbor Master Gary Pagel said Tuesday that he has no concerns about the safety of boat traffic should the town allow Gateway Marina to extend its two docks in Long Lake from 48 to 96 feet.
The request of Jerry Knapp, owner of Gateway Marina in downtown Harrison, to double the length of two docks to 96 feet will be back before the Zoning Board of Appeals at 7 p.m. Friday after the majority of selectmen asked the board to reconsider its approval because of concerns including safety, parking and due process.
“If the town allows him the ability to extend the docks, he would have to give up at least a couple of moorings and he’s indicated he’s very willing to accommodate that. It won’t interfere with boat traffic,” Pagel said. The business has five moorings.
Long Lake stretches 11 miles through Harrison, Bridgton and Naples, and is between a quarter and a half mile wide. The Harrison boat ramp and the two marinas that are located in the heart of the village on the northern most end of the lake accommodates hundreds of boaters each season, Pagel said.
Although the Planning Board approved Knapp’s request in September to permanently attach his dock system, they did not have the authority to approve the request to extend the two docks. That request required a variance from the Board of Appeals, Assistant Code Enforcement Officer Mary Tremblay said.
The board subsequently approved the variance, but selectmen called a special meeting on Oct. 3 to discuss their concerns with some aspects of the plan, including whether town ordinances were followed.
Code Enforcement Officer John Wentworth told selectmen at the meeting that he believes the approval provides an expansion of use and therefore needs to go through the Planning Board for a site plan review.
Selectmen Matthew Frank said the dock extensions would encroach further into the lake, making it more dangerous for boaters. Selectmen Richard St. John told fellow board members he also was concerned the applicant does not meet the requirements for additional parking needed for the slips.
Tremblay said that the nearby Harrison Marina, which has a 96 foot-long dock near the boat ramp, is exempt from the parking ordinance that requires a certain number of parking spaces for each slip because it was there before the ordinance was approved by the town. But, she said, parking at both marinas has been handled well by the owners.
“It’s tough in a small town with limited space,” Tremblay said of not only the marinas, but all downtown businesses. “Consistency is a big thing. We’ve got to be consistent with what we do. The boards try to be consistent and be business friendly.”
Despite the procedural issues that must be ironed out, Tremblay and Pagel agree that Gateway Marina and the Harrison Marina, both family-owned businesses operating for more than a decade, have been good businesses for the town.
“We’ve had no problems whatsoever,” Tremblay said. “They’re two nice marinas and we’d like to see them maintained. They both do very well in town.”
The next meeting of the Planning Board is set for Oct. 15, at which time they may take up the site plan review of Gateway Marina’s application.