August 19, 2011

Biddeford Pool live-aboard boat proposal up in air

The New York resident, who insists his vessel is not a houseboat, has created concerns for local officials.

By Emma Bouthillette ebouthillette@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD - A proposal to moor a live-aboard vessel in Biddeford Pool that has caused concern in the community remains in flux.

Ned Baldwin, a New York-based architect who has many clients in Biddeford Pool, wants a mooring for a "motor cruiser" that would stay in the water year round. He told the Harbor Commission on Thursday night that he wants to secure the mooring before building the 18-foot by 50-foot vessel.

He said he would live on the boat primarily during the summer, and insisted that it would not be a houseboat.

"I'm acutely sensitive that houseboats are an anathema in Biddeford Pool," Baldwin told the commission.

In a letter to Harbormaster Marshall Alexander dated May 7, Baldwin said he vacationed in Biddeford Pool for many years but buying property in the area was never feasible. Despite that, he wrote, "my dream of living on the water in Biddeford Pool has not quite died."

He said his vessel would look more like a "conventional yacht," with two wind turbines to produce electricity.

Alexander said it is the first proposal of its kind that he has seen for the Biddeford Pool area.

The city does not have an ordinance that addresses "houseboats," but does have an ordinance prohibiting boats from staying in the harbor between Nov. 30 and April 1 because of harsh weather, Alexander said.

About half a dozen commercial fishing boats are permitted to stay in the harbor, but their owners have secure places to move them quickly, should a storm hit, he said.

"I'm looking at it as a safety point," Alexander said. "To put something in like this and get it moved in a timely manner, I don't see it happening. I think you need to find a more sheltered harbor."

Alexander also said he could not see a place for such a large vessel, in the inner or outer harbor, "where it can be safe and not a danger to other vessels laying there."

There are more than 90 occupied moorings in Biddeford Pool, and a waiting list for moorings, Alexander said. To get on the waiting list, he said, an applicant needs a vessel. Moorings are assigned to specific boats and can be transferred only to another boat of comparable size, with the harbormaster's approval.

Members of the Harbor Commission expressed concerns about having a live-aboard boat in the harbor. Some were worried about how waste would be handled, and others worried about where the boat would go in a storm without causing a dangerous situation.

Michael Morissette, a representative from the Shellfish Conservation Commission, questioned the impact the boat would have on the area's clam flats.

After the meeting, Baldwin said he is not abandoning his plan.

"I've got to look at alternative ways to moor the thing off-season," he said, and to find a comparable vessel to secure a mooring while his live-aboard is built.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

ebouthillette@pressherald.com

 

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