BELFAST, Maine — The Front Street Shipyard’s bid to construct a new building and add to its boat-lifting equipment was helped by city council action this week, though no final decision has been made on conveying control of some city land to the company.
Front Street has identified three spots to add a 140-foot-by-160-foot, 55-foot high building. On Tuesday night, City Planner Wayne Marshall asked councilors if they would allow him and shipyard representatives to proceed assuming that only the city owned parking lot property on Front Street was a viable option for the project.
Tearing down an existing shipyard building and reconstructing it larger was another option, as was tearing down the former railroad station and Belfast Maskers theater and building on that city land. Both are impractical, Marshall said.
Because the shipyard does not have any ownership right to the city owned land, it is unable to formally apply for the new expansion. The city planning board and other regulatory bodies require such “right, title or interest” in the property to proceed.
Marshall recommended the council vote to allow the shipyard to act as an agent of the city, so it can begin the application process while the council and other city committees consider the larger question of selling or leasing the land to the company. Councilors quickly voted to grant the shipyard that status.
The company’s bid to construct a new, larger boat lift along the waterfront is continuing on a separate track. The shipyard owns that land and does not need to negotiate a deal with the city, though it must secure approval from state and federal regulatory agencies.
The Front Street Shipyard was approved through a contract zoning arrangement with the city two years ago. Under that process, uses, structures and other details are stipulated by the business in exchange for city approval. Marshall has said a similar arrangement would be the best approach for the expansion, if the council approves of selling or leasing the parking lot.
The parking lot, adjacent to Front Street, contains 96 parking spaces and comprises one acre, Marshall said.
Front Street Shipyard employs about 100; 40 jobs would be added if the expansion is permitted, company officials have said.