Selectmen put a freeze on issuing any new commercial mooring permits Tuesday with the understanding that Department of Natural Resources Director Timothy W. Mullen would bring back a proposed set of more detailed commercial regulations by April 15.
After more comprehensive commercial rules have been instituted, the freeze could then be lifted.
Only three new commercial permits have been issued in the past five years, Mr. Mullen told selectmen, so although the freeze was deemed necessary, it is unlikely to affect more than one or two businesses, if any.
One person who might possibly be affected was Stephen Ballentine of Ballentine’s Boat Yard in Cataumet. Mr. Ballentine explained to selectmen that the long waiting lists that they have been discussing in relation to residential permits are the same lists used for commercial permit holders
Mr. Ballentine said he has been on the list for Scotch House Cove for about 10 years, wanting two moorings, including one for a 45-foot vessel. Ballentine’s is currently at numbers 3 and 4 on that list, and Mr. Ballentine wondered what would happen were he to be offered a spot while the moratorium was in effect.
Selectmen assured him that he would not go down to the bottom of the list if he could not accept a mooring because of the freeze. The board asked Mr. Mullen to inform them if Ballentine’s did, indeed, rise to the top of the list.
The freeze was discussed at the request of Selectman Jamie J. Sloniecki, who was concerned that people who did not have a legitimate reason to hold multiple commercial permits might be using their permits as a source of income, leasing them out to others while town residents waited for a place to moor their boats. He did not want more commercial permits issued until more comprehensive commercial rules were passed.
Donald J. Pickard, chairman of selectmen, said the first mention of commercial moorings in the DNR rules dealt with fees. He said the regulations contain no definition of a “commercial” mooring, nor are there any regulations governing who is eligible to have a commercial permit or how such moorings can be used.
Last week, selectmen had asked Town Administrator Thomas M. Guerino and Mr. Mullen to begin working on commercial mooring regulations. The imposition of an April 15 deadline, in concert with the moratorium on new commercial permits, prompted Selectman Peter J. Meier to propose that the Bourne Shore and Harbor Committee be tasked with proposing the revised regulations. Selectmen said that if Mr. Mullen so chooses, he could work in consultation with that committee.