Tisbury stiffens waterways rules
The Tisbury selectmen approved several proposed amendments to the town's waterways regulations at a public hearing Tuesday night. Ironically, they ended up postponing action on one to prohibit fueling boats at Tisbury docks, the very issue that prompted an overhaul of the waterways regulations in the first place.
One of the amendments they did approve, however, requires that anyone who uses Tisbury's public launch ramps and piers in operating a commercial business now must apply for a town permit. A question remains as to whether this applies to the state public access ramp and pier at Lagoon Pond, a member of the Tashmoo management committee said yesterday.
Selectman Geoghan Coogan pointed out that Tisbury already has a town regulation on the books that prohibits operating a commercial business on town property. The new waterways regulation, however, makes the distinction that any use of a town dock for operating a commercial activity requires a town permit.
For example, charter fishermen would not be allowed to tie up and operate their businesses at the Lake Street pier on Lake Tashmoo, but they could pick up and drop off clients there, provided they have a town permit.
The public hearing stemmed from the selectmen's request last October for a recommendation from the Tashmoo management committee (TMC) and harbor management committee (HMC) about commercial activities they considered appropriate for the town's waters and docks, and a process under which those could be permitted.
TMC chairman Melinda Loberg said the committees met jointly to try to identify traditional commercial uses at the town's docks and to formalize the definitions so there would be no questions.
In doing so, they recommended that the selectmen limit permits to businesses that meet the definition of nine "water-dependent" commercial activities. Those included commercial fishing, charter fishing, charter sailing, launch services, kayak rental access, aquaculture and shellfish farming, parasailing and aqua-sports, community boating, and mooring maintenance.
A lengthy discussion ensued about the definition of "water-dependent." To support his argument that non-water-dependent commercial activities that should require a permit are also taking place on docks, selectman Jeff Kristal produced photographic evidence.
Flourishing his cell phone, he showed Mr. Coogan and selectman chairman Tristan Israel a photo he had taken at 6 am that morning of a women's fitness group exercising on the Lake Street pier.
The picture proved to be worth a thousand words -less, that is - as the selectmen ended their discussion by agreeing to remove the term "water-dependent." Mr. Coogan suggested that the HMC could address the specifics as permit applications come up.
Mr. Israel objected to including kayak rental services on the list, which he said could be done on the beach instead of taking up space on the docks. The selectmen agreed to strike that activity from the list and add ferry service instead.
Under the new process for a commercial permit, applications would be available at the harbormaster's office and town hall. The selectmen approved the harbor committees' recommendation of a $25 application fee.
Completed applications will be referred to the appropriate harbor management committee, which has up to 21 days to give the selectmen a recommendation on whether to approve it, followed by final approval from the selectmen at a public hearing.
The selectmen also asked the harbor management committees to come up with a fee schedule for the commercial permits, based on the type of activity.
No decision yet on fuel
Among the proposed waterway regulations, the sticking point for the selectmen, commercial fishermen, and harbor committee members was the practice of fueling boats at town docks and piers.
The issue of fuel deliveries and sales to commercial fishing boats at the Lake Street landing came up at a selectmen's meeting last August. Jay McMann of Island Fuel said he operated the trucks that deliver fuel there and that he had passed stringent certifications.
Commercial fishermen who attended the summer meeting said they needed a convenient, safe refueling location on Lake Tashmoo and argued that deliveries from Mr. McMann were safer than filling their tanks from cans.
Speaking for the harbor management committees, Ms. Loberg said in addition to environmental concerns, refueling boats at the Lake Street dock was prohibited by town regulation as a commercial activity. The selectmen decided to refer the dock issues to the harbor management committees, which led to Tuesday night's public hearing.
Section four of the HMC's proposed amendments would prohibit fueling of boats at public docks, piers and landings. As an exception, however, boaters would be permitted to transport fuel to their boats from a dock in portable containers that hold two-and-a-half gallons or less.
"As commercial fishermen, we need fuel; this doesn't make sense," Glenn Pachico said. He asked if he could get permission from Mr. Wilbur to use something larger, such as a 40-gallon container. Mr. Wilbur said that would go against the regulation's intent, which is to avoid spills by keeping the size of the containers small and manageable.
Jeffrey Canha, a commercial fisherman who estimated he uses 200 to 300 gallons of gas in two days fishing, argued that smaller containers are more likely to spill. He and Mr. Pachico blamed runoff from fertilizer, leaks from parked cars on Lake Street, and a dumpster, rather than fuel spills from boaters, as the source of most of Lake Tashmoo's pollution.
Reaching an impasse, the selectmen decided to take section four under advisement. Mr. Israel asked the two harbor management committees and the commercial fishermen to continue discussions about fueling and containers, and plan to meet with the selectmen again in April.