Thursday, March 29, 2007

Maine's Working Waterfront

The coast of Maine is only 293 miles from Kittery (the southern most point) to Eastport (the far eastern point), but the shore is so jagged and contains so many cutbacks and inlets and such that when all that is considered there are more than 4,500 miles of shoreline in Maine. Add in the island shoreline and it's more than 7,000 miles of coast.

Of that, according to CEI, only 25 total miles are still designated as working waterfront, and that number continues to decrease.

Earlier this week, the New York Times had a story on a non-profit group in Harpswell that raised $1.5 million to buy a dock and businesses at Holbrook's Wharf to protect their working waterfront. They failed to mention that the Harpswell solution bears some resemblance to what happened in York a few years ago--villagers banding together to preserve and protect a way of life and an important part of the state's history:

In 2003, the Village of York engineered a breakthrough solution to protect the docks near Sewall's Bridge on the York River., which included the local land trust. Land trusts have generally not been involved in waterfront issues, tending to stick with large undeveloped rural landscapes.

In this case The York River Land Trust became involved in the project because it felt that the dock was part of the historic and scenic beauty of the York River, and as part of the viewshed, it fell within the land trust's mission to attempt to protect the piece of land from unwanted development. It bought the development rights to the property, working with a coalition comprised of the York Land Trust, CEI, two lobstermen, and members of the Old York Homestead Association to ensure the community concerns were heard and addressed.

The village then defined the "working water front uses" with the future in mind. The fishery is not specified. The uses include the floats, docks, vessels, and other equipment and support resources required for harvesting aquatic (marine and freshwater) organisms. Support offices for related businesses are included. Retail shops, offices and open air snack bars are allowed provided that they relate directly the to the harvest of aquatic organisms. Marinas, restaurants, and fuel pumps are not included.

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