The Dresden Planning Board will hold a public hearing about a proposed smelt camp near Cork Cove in the Kennebec River beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pownalborough Hall.

Roger Bintliff, a former manager at the Senator Inn and Spa in Augusta, has proposed opening Cork Cove Smelt Camps on his property at 739 River Road.

Planning Board Chairman Jeffrey Pierce said there used to be winter fishing camps on that property under a different owner a decade ago, and he said he thinks this application should be approved with ease.

“It’s pretty cut and dry,” Pierce said Monday. “(Bintliff) has done his homework and has a good plan.”

Before the camp can be opened, Bintliff would need his plan affirmed by the Planning Board, and he would need approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The smelt season typically begins in late December or early January.

In 2016, smelt camps in Maine were only able to operate for a few days, if at all, because of warm conditions and a lack of ice.

“To us, this is a minor project, and it’s not a big decision,” Pierce said. “I see it going through pretty easily.”

Peter James checks smelt shacks on the Eastern River in Dresden in 2016. The Dresden Planning Board is reviewing plans for a proposed new smelt camp near Cork Cove in the Kennebec River. Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

Pierce said Bintliff, who did not immediately return a request for comment Monday, presented the Planning Board with a map and plan to start his business with about 10 shacks.

He said Bintliff would like to be operational during the upcoming ice fishing season, which will start once the ice has frozen enough to support the weight of the shacks and fishers.

“We’ll have the public hearing and then deliberate, and if we think it’s good, we’ll pass it,” Pierce said. “He’ll have his conditional permit Thursday and be good to go.”

The Planning Board held a site visit on the property Sunday, and Pierce said the property was clean and neat. Pierce said the previous property owner and smelt camp operator used to have people park on the neighbors’ property, which the Planning Board doesn’t advocate.

Pierce said neighbors have expressed concern for trash being left behind by smelters, including beer bottles and other debris.

“There’s the usual outcry from neighbors who don’t want the trash and don’t want the noise,” Pierce said. “But it’s (Bintliff’s property), so he doesn’t want the trash or the noise, either.”

Bintliff’s property is 2.4 miles from James Eddy Smelt Camps, which has operated in Dresden for more than 50 years. Pierce said Bintliff will probably start small and see how things go before expanding to a larger camp.

“He’s got a good plan, he knows the neighbors don’t want the trash, and he’s having some real nice camps built,” Pierce said.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

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