2018-03-05 / Local

Freeport to consider aquaculture review criteria on Tuesday

Times Record Staff


Having abandoned a plan to have its own aquaculture leasing program, Freeport is working to set criteria for people wanting to take part in one run by the state.

The town’s Ordinance Committee will review an amendment to the town’s Shellfish Conservation Ordinance at its 5:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday.

According to an email from Town Manager Peter Joseph, an amendment was originally considered last year. He noted it is not a controversial proposal rejected by the committee that would have created a municipal program separate from the state-run program.

“The proposal under consideration is not an independent municipal leasing program, as previously proposed,” Joseph wrote. “Rather, it establishes a set of criteria that the town will use to either approve or deny applications made under the current aquaculture leasing program administered by the Maine Department of Marine Resources.”

The state-run aquaculture leasing program requires that councilors sign off on any lease application made to the state within Freeport’s territorial waters. Currently, however, the town has no procedure outlining how a decision is made to approve or deny an application, Joseph noted.

The proposed amendment under consideration Tuesday requires applicants to provide the town with written permission from landowners, and a copy of any agreements with landowners of intertidal land where shellfish aquaculture activity will occur. Applicants will also need to provide written permission and agreements with owners of private property required for access to the lease site.

As far back as in 2016, the town’s Ordinance Committee and shellfish conservation commission were discussing whether to create a municipal ordinance or work within the state’s existing program. A proposal for a pilot municipal program was put forth, due to environmental changes and a need to identify ways to enhance Freeport’s clam resources. The proposed 5- year, limited-scope pilot program aimed to see if clams could be famed on Freeport flats.

The proposal, however, was met with opposition from many shellfish harvesters and shore-front property owners. The end result was the committee’s recommendation the town use the state process, instead of creating its own.

If the amendment is approved by the Ordinance Committee, Joseph expects the Town Council to conduct a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday, March 20.

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