Ossipee Board Hears Objections to Loon Island Docks

Ossipee—February 23, 2024—Ossipee’s Planning Board met Tuesday night to consider public comments about a proposal to install boat docks on Leavitt Bay’s Loon Island.

Kevin Randall and his wife, Deborah, own the 0.90-acre island. Earlier this month they applied to DES for approval to install five 40-ft. by 6-ft. boat docks on the south shore of the island.

A copy of the application was provided to town officials for review and public comment, which is standard practice.

Ossipee’s Conservation Commission responded last week with a letter to DES saying the island is “not capable of supporting the proposed usage,” citing increased boat traffic on the bay and the disturbance of loon nests among the factors behind their decision.

The Conservation Commission’s letter was read at the start of the Planning Board meeting, with planning officials reminding the audience that the town can offer its opinion, but the decision is up to the state.

Speaking to a full room of approximately 30 people, property owner Kevin Randall said the island is regularly used by boaters without the couple’s permission, even though it is posted as private property. He said he believes the five docks are necessary to show boaters the island is off-limits.

Diagram submitted with DES application for Loon Island docks.

“If I don’t put anything on the island [the situation] will never change,” he said, adding that “legally I’m going to do whatever I have to do to put something up there.”

Randall said boaters erode the shoreline when they beach their boats at the site. He said having docks there would reduce the damage by providing a place for boaters to tie up instead of beaching.

The property owner told the meeting he obtained a town building permit in 1996 to construct a “lockable gazebo with decks” on the island but decided against building it. He said he might revisit that permit if the docks are not approved.

“I should be able to do what I want legally with my property,” he told the Planning Board, adding that he has always allowed people to use the island if they ask for permission, and has “never charged anyone a dime.”

The ensuing public comments at the meeting were largely negative.

Ossipee resident Danny Fischbein pointed to the small size of the island and its odd shape, and said it is battered all summer by boat wakes, especially on the north side. He said he wanted to make sure people understood how small the island is in relation to the size of five docs.

Lake resident Susan Marks said she wanted to ask Randall to clarify several things he said, but noted he had already left the meeting.

Marks said it “made no sense whatsoever” that docks were needed to deter people from trespassing but were also needed to give people a place to tie-up their boats.

She was one of several people who pointed out the inconsistency and expressed surprise that Randall left the meeting before taking questions from the audience and board members.

Dennis Gould said he has been a volunteer loon caretaker on the lake for 25 years. He said Randall has always cooperated with loon protection efforts but said the docks will increase the threat to loons, whether the docks are on the north side or the south side of the island.

“The loons try to nest there all the time,” Gould said. “If he gets this application approved, he can probably rent [the docks] and put 20 boats there. The loons won’t have a chance.”

Eric Pare of Leavitt Road said the question for him is where the boats for the five docks would come from. He jokingly expressed skepticism that the boaters would all be friends and family, as Randall has said.

“Where are the cars and trailers for all those boats going to be stored? What’s the access point to the island right now? There’s no way to get there,” Pare said.

Pare also pointed out that there are no facilities on the island for “potentially 100 people,” and if there were an emergency, town officials would be responsible for responding because the island is in Ossipee.

Bill Winter, another Leavitt Bay resident, asked whether the town would have any jurisdiction if the docks were approved by the state.

The board responded to say the Code Enforcement Officer told Randall he would have to comply with zoning if the docks were physically connected to the island. If the docks were approved and installed solely in the water, the town would have no jurisdiction.

Winter called that a “scary loophole.”

Regarding renting the docks, something Randall has said he might consider in the future, the board said the property owner has been told he would have to apply to the Planning Board for approval.

Members of the audience questioned technical aspects of the plan, such as the use of pressure treated wood, but were advised to direct such concerns to DES.

Asked if the 1996 gazebo building permit was still valid, the board said it didn’t know but would find out.

Gary Giannino was one of a number of people who pointed to the increase in boat traffic on the bay in recent years. He said part of that increase is due to an increase in events held on the island.

He said he wondered if five new docks combined with already crowded boat traffic might require the state to consider a new no-wake zone on the bay.

Leavitt Road resident Mike Boyle asked the board to make a note of his concern that the eagles that nest at the site would be scared off by the increased activity.

In the night’s only supportive comment, Ossipee resident Dallas Emery echoed Randall’s perspective about property rights, and suggested that the docks could provide an environmental benefit by breaking up boat wakes before they hit the shore.

After approximately an hour, the board voted unanimously to submit the public comments to DES, along with emails it had already received. The board said all further comments should be directed to DES.

Ossipee Lake Alliance confirmed with the state that comments on the dock proposal should be emailed to Ryan Duquette at ryan.duquette@des.nh.gov. Duquette will be reviewing the proposal.

8 Comments

  1. Me 2 months ago February 23, 2024

    I agree with everyone who said it’s a bad idea and am glad this will not be going through.

    It’s not good for anyone!

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  2. Chris 2 months ago February 24, 2024

    If I owned this island, my first concern would be liability. Waiting for someone to get injured on my property is waiting for a lawyer to show up on your door step. I think the state should offer this guy fair market value and repurchase the island from these people. Let the island provide a habitat. Put the whole thing to bed. I’m curious how this “island ” ever came on the open public real estate market to begin with?

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  3. Bill 2 months ago February 24, 2024

    Excellent point with regard to how this property ever came on the market. Over the years I have had the opportunity to talk to some of the original buyers of property on Leavitt Road back around 1947 and they were told the Island would never be sold. I believe the high water mark would cover almost the entire island. Very important is the liability issue which I would not want to worry about!

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  4. Chris 2 months ago February 24, 2024

    I’m all for preservation. Seems like we are putting ourselves on a collision course with mother nature in regards to the lake. It’s only a little over 3200 acres. More restrictions and more enforcement is not always a bad thing when you are dealing with something like a natural body of water … there are things that men cannot fix once they get broken. Sometimes people just need to be told NO.

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  5. tj236 2 months ago February 26, 2024

    I prefer there be no docks installed on the island. That being said I must also say that I don’t believe we have the right to tell another landowner what they can and can’t do with their land. To prevent development on another person’s property simply because we don’t like it is highly intrusive as it pertains to property rights.
    Subjective rational regarding the “potential” negative impact to the environment and nature should not be a basis for interfering with another’s property rights.
    As I’ve said before if the permit is granted it should come with stipulations that mandate safety and environmental compliance. If the town and state cannot enforce such stipulations that is not the property owner’s problem and should not be a basis for denial.
    The place to start from is legal, rational reasoning for denial and negotiate from there.

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  6. Neil Brown 2 months ago February 26, 2024

    I am not sure this is a question of “property rights.” The request is being made to the state for permission to put structures (docks) on state property by the owner of the abutting property.
    If we were to make modifications to an existing (grandfathered) dock or install a new dock on our waterfront, we would be required to obtain states’ permission.
    I don’t know, but the town may have a say in how they are attached to town real estate.

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  7. tj236 2 months ago February 26, 2024

    I would expect a portion of the dock to be on the property and the rest in the water. Regardless most all of us on the lake have docks and view the docks as an extension of our property. In other words, we don’t expect random boats to just park their boats and tie them to our docks. But I get your point…

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  8. Elliot 1 month ago March 4, 2024

    It’s so funny how people try to make their opinions facts. We are talking about someone who owns a piece of property putting some docks on it for family and friends.

    1. Pollution of the lake? So It’s fine for people to park down 16 and come and go publicly all weekend with there boats (that do not pay a dime in taxes) is more okay than a couple putting docks on land they OWN for family and friends?

    2. Loons? As stated the couple is more than compliant with doing what’s right for the loons. The couple along with their family and friends still go to the island (that they own) consistently throughout the season. Docks being there does not change any of that.

    3. I hope none of you people crying are same the ones who go to the island (without permission) and leave your trash/park and let your dogs out/ light off fireworks for the Fourth of July (and leave more trash) or even for that matter look at the fireworks.

    The hard truth is people really will keep off this island with this in place. Loons are potentially even more protected is a valid angle.

    The island is something that someone owns and pays for. People wanting to have a say in that is absurd.

    If this island went up for sale tomorrow, it would be an all out bidding war. Jealousy people, it’s a sad sad thing.

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