February 17, 2020
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Maine town bans floating structures, but don’t call them houseboats

BDN File | BDN
BDN File | BDN
Steve White, partner in Front Street Shipyard and owner of Brooklin Boat Yard, lives in a house docked at the Front Street Shipyard in Belfast.
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EDGECOMB, Maine — Edgecomb residents voted unanimously to adopt a temporary ban on floating structures during a special town meeting Monday. The Edgecomb Planning Board has six months to a year before it will need to consider an application for a floating structure.

The board needs the time to develop an ordinance to govern floating structures, which property owners and developers have recently expressed interest in, planning board members said.

There was no discussion among the roughly 30 voters who turned out to the meeting. “This is a record for Edgecomb,” moderator Carl Griffin said. The meeting adjourned about 20 minutes after it began.

The planning board and the Edgecomb Ordinance Review Committee initially requested a special town meeting to consider a moratorium in December, after receiving an email from a company that manufactures floating homes, planning board Chairman Jack French has said.

The company expressed interest in building eight to 10 floating homes to use as rental properties and asked whether there would be any objection to the project, French said. The town was not prepared to consider the proposal, he said.

Regulation of floating structures falls to the town and Edgecomb does not have an ordinance to govern them.

The moratorium defines floating structures as residential, industrial or commercial structures on the waters of Edgecomb that are designed as a place of habitation or commercial activity.

They could be located on shores, moorings or in other areas of town, according to the moratorium. There is a “strong likelihood the coastal areas of town will be subjected to this development pressure” because of the amount of shoreline in Edgecomb and the demand for affordable waterfront property, the moratorium states.

Floating structures are not houseboats, which are movable, French said. They fall outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The moratorium places a six-month ban on applications for floating structures, with the option to extend the moratorium another six months to give the town time to enact a permanent ordinance.

Few municipalities in Maine have floating structure ordinances to serve as a model for Edgecomb, French said. The ordinance review committee intends to take its time and conduct thorough research in the development of the ordinance.


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