Freedom — November 30, 2006 — Ossipee Lake Marina withdrew its application for a boat-wash facility before the Freedom Zoning Board of Adjustment put off discussing other marina requests until December.
The request for an outside boat-wash facility was the marina’s attempt to cut down on the spread of milfoil — an invasive plant species — in the lake. That request was scratched, however, after the zoning board read a letter submitted by the Freedom Conservation Commission.
“Boat washes for milfoil- and exotic plant-removal are no longer recommended” by ecological experts, board chair Scott Lees read aloud from the letter. The crowd laughed, and principal marine owner Kevin Price put his hand to his forehead.
“They’re the ones who told me they wanted it,” he said, exasperated. “They came to me personally and asked for a boat wash. Then they turn around and do this. Unbelievable.”
“I guess that eliminates that request,” said Price’s attorney, Randy Cooper.
As the request for a boat wash was eliminated, so was an associated request for access to the boat wash via unpaved Alvino Road.
The marina had applied to the Freedom Zoning Board of Adjustment for two additions to its six-lot site. Besides the boat wash facility, Price also requested permission for unlimited winter boat storage on part of his property, which would be defined by a fence.
After a nearly three-hour public hearing, the zoning board continued the request for unlimited boat storage within a fenced-in area to Dec. 12, and asked Price to provide them with more information.
In 1997, the zoning board gave Price permission to build two, 10,000-square-foot boat storage units. A condition of the board’s approval was a cap on the number of boats Price could store on the six-lot, Freedom marina: 225 indoors, and 23 outdoors.
At his hearing before the zoning board Nov. 28, Price explained that he misunderstood the 1997 condition.
“I didn’t believe the 23 boats outside included boats being repaired or sold,” Price said. “My rental boats, my boats for sale, my own personal boats — now they’re all being included. It’s limiting my operations.”
“When I agreed to that condition, I was agreeing that the 23 boats outdoors just included customers’ boats that were being stored there over winter,” he finished.
Zoning board members were reluctant to write what board member Neal Boyle called “a blank check” for the number of boats stored on site.
“It’s feasible that you could fill in that entire fenced area until it’s filled inch-by-inch, and the entire parcel is covered,” alternate member Todd Demaris said. “You could have 500 boats in there.”
“No, I don’t think 500,” Price said, shaking his head.
Board member Ron Champagne pressed for a specific number of stored boats.
“I will never agree to an unlimited number of boats,” Champagne said emphatically. “If we gave you unlimited access, you could park boats and block all the buildings. The fire department couldn’t get in there if they needed to. It would leave us wide open to all sorts of problems.”
A Massachusetts couple, Darryl and Kathy Parker, were especially concerned with the threat of fire. They, along with their three daughters, were awakened by an explosion at a chemical plant near their home Nov. 22. The blast was heard in towns up to 50 miles away, and the resulting fire damaged over 100 homes. There were no fatalities, and only 10 injuries.
The Parkers own a camp on Ossipee Lake Road, which abuts the marina property. Darryl Parker cited the recent Danvers, Mass. fire, as well as a 2002 fire in Ossipee that totally destroyed Ward’s Boat Shop, and a 1947 fire that decimated Brownfield, Maine.
“In the event of a fire at Ossipee Lake Marina, I have serious concerns about how they’ll be able to maintain it,” Parker said. “As far as I know, there are no alarm systems or sprinklers in those buildings. There are no high-pressure hydrants. And if outdoor boats are blocking the lake, the fire department will have no way to access that water.”
Freedom Selectman Donna Cupka supported the marina’s request. Although she is a town official, and her husband is the marina’s sales and service manager, Cupka said she was speaking only as a citizen.
“The outdoor storage of boats should not be limited. They should be able to store as many boats as they can fit, within their setbacks,” Cupka said. “They’ve been storing an average of 100 boats outside.
“Demands on the marina are growing by leaps and bounds. And they’re not the only ones feeling the growth — the whole area is,” she added.
Jody Skelton, executive director of Freedom’s YMCA Camp Huckins, was the only one to voice concern for the impact on Ossipee Lake itself.
“By changing the limit on boats to an area, we’re not paying any attention to the number of boats at the marina, and we’re not paying attention to how many boats are going out on the lake,” Skelton said.
The zoning board requested that the discussion be continued to a Dec. 12 meeting, 7 p.m., at Freedom Town Hall. Price was asked to get an opinion of the plan’s fire safety from the Freedom fire chief, and to address the impact of an on-site fence to the 50-foot buffer between the marina and Marina Road.