CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council has established a temporary Harbors Committee to review the town’s coastal waters.
Councilors on Oct. 5 unanimously approved creating the five-person committee, which will meet for one year starting in January.
According to the town website, Cape Elizabeth last reviewed its coastal waters almost 30 years ago and now is “an opportune time to review issues relating to (the) harbor.”
The committee’s charge includes four areas of focus.
The first thing the committee is expected to do is review the town’s Coastal Waters and Harbor Ordinance and decide if anything should be changed or updated. The committee will also meet with state officials to discuss boat access at Kettle Cove and Crescent Beach and develop a long-range plan for access.
The committee will also update the town’s map of allowed boat moorings, and will be expected to work on other related tasks that the Town Council may request over the course of the year.
The Council has asked for a report to be submitted by Dec. 31, 2017.
The Harbors Committee was formed following a proposal by Councilor Caitlin Jordan; conducting the review was one of her Town Council goals this year.
“More and more issues keep coming up over access to the water,” she said. “It seemed like it was about time.”
Jordan said the town has waited until this point in the year to address the issue, because councilors wanted to begin the task after a new harbor master was hired. The Town Council in March entered into an agreement with Scarborough to share harbor master Ian Anderson.
“We were kind of waiting to see what would happen with the new harbor master before we moved forward with this,” Jordan said.
Jordan said a group of about 10 lobstermen have been meeting on their own for three years to talk about issues related to the harbor. Also, over the last two years, Jordan said there has been an increase in complaints about access from residents who live near Kettle Cove.
Although access is the biggest issue Jordan hopes to see addressed by the Harbors Committee, she said aquaculture should also be discussed. There is one aquaculture business being run in Cape Elizabeth, near Kettle Cove.
“It’s a whole new industry that’s popping up, and Cape Elizabeth is historically a farming and fishing community,” Jordan said.
The Town Council has appropriated $15,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance for the Harbors Committee, which will hire a consultant with a background in municipal harbors, and to fund the cost of mapping the moorings.
The committee will include three residents and two councilors, who will be appointed after the November elections. Cape residents who are interested have until Nov. 4 to apply on the town website.