NEW GLOUCESTER — The Planning Board voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to allow a subdivision developer to install a dock at the Sabbathday Lake beach, not a marina that would give all seven lot owners their own boat slips.

Allen Hamilton, developer of Sabbathday Shores subdivision, addresses a public hearing by the New Gloucester Planning Board on Tuesday evening. Ellie Fellers photo

The vote followed a public hearing at which 20 residents urged the board not to amend its approval of Allen Hamilton’s Sabbathday Shores subdivision last year, which only allowed passive recreation, such as fishing and hiking, in the open space area.

The vote amended the plan, giving Hamilton permission to install one dock, for which he must submit a plan to the board.

Residents cited concerns about damaging the health of the lake, which one person described as a “crown jewel” of the community.

“If the Planning Board allows this change for a back lot subdivision not located on the shorefront, but across a major road, a precedent will be set that will allow future such changes for other currently undeveloped back lots,” resident Tom Driscoll said.

“This would certainly be detrimental to all the values you and I endeavor to protect, in and around the lake.”

Jennifer Gray, who owns property on the lake, wrote in a letter to the board, “The New Gloucester Comprehensive Plan policy looks to harmonize new development with the traditional landscapes of the town (a docking system with . . . boat slips is not harmonious with other uses on the lake and the lake frontage is only big enough to support/provide for one-two lots.)”

John Salisbury, who lives on Sabbathday Lake Road said: “The Sabbathday beach area has two streams and hosts substantial runoff from former Route 26 and the Sabbathday Shores development that enters the lake through the beach. The addition of a dock with seven slips will become an additional problem.”

Lillian Nayder of New Gloucester opposed the plan and cited her work in coordination with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection for a boat inspection program at Outlet Beach during the summer. Each year, 200 boats are inspected to assure invasive plants do not enter the lake, she said.

“I would do everything possible to prevent increased motor boat access to the lake,” Nayder said.

“The lake is doing well because of volunteers and erosion-control projects and water studies,” Cheryll McKinnon said. “Here we have a crown jewel in our community.”

She said the board rightly allowed passive recreation in the open space area when the subdivision was approved.

filed under: