City considers amending shipyard agreement

By Ben Holbrook | Dec 23, 2013

Belfast — City councilors approved amendments to the contract rezoning agreement with Front Street Shipyard to allow the business to close the Harbor Walk for a longer period of time to wash down larger vessels and to operate up to seven days a week during the spring and fall.

The amendments to the contract rezoning agreement reflect a request from the shipyard to better reflect how the site is being used, City Planner Wayne Marshall explained. Marshall said in regards to closing the Harbor Walk, the existing agreement caps closures at 4 hours.

However, the amendment would allow the shipyard to close the Harbor Walk for up to six hours.

Marshall noted the shipyard will grant the city a 10-foot wide easement for the relief walkway near Building No. 5 as opposed to the previously identified eight-foot-wide easement.

During the time the Harbor Walk is closed, shipyard employees are required to erect a protective barrier around the wash basin and to post signage that explains why the Harbor Walk is temporarily closed, while also directing pedestrians along a series of relief walkways that travel through shipyard property and adjacent to Front Street.

Marshall said the change in the operating hours for the shipyard would be updated in the agreement to reflect the fact the shipyard often works up to seven days a week during May and June, as well as in mid-September to mid-November.

A request was also made that as part of the shipyard's plan to construct a 22,000-square-foot facility, known as Building No. 6, on the Front Street parking lot adjacent to Building No. 5, that the construction could occur at the same time the city is reconstructing Front Street.

As a result, Marshall explained, the shipyard said there will need to be considerable cooperation between the city and the shipyard regarding the use of the Harbor Walk and the relief walkways while construction is ongoing in the area.

Finally, Marshall said the amended language included in the contract rezoning agreement would eliminate a requirement that the shipyard reserve an area adjacent to the larger travelift pier for the construction of a commercial fishermen's dock.

When the city drafted the contract rezoning agreement with the shipyard, the city was planning on constructing the commercial fishermen's dock at Thompson's Wharf. However, Marshall explained in a memo to councilors that the Harbor Committee ultimately chose to construct the dock at City Landing.

Councilors approved the amended language as presented. Marshall said he would bring a finalized draft of the amended contract rezoning agreement to the next council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 7.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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