City Councilors granted Front Street Shipyard “agent status” in order to allow the company to submit an application to use city-owned land, Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Front Street Shipyard needs the agent status in order to be allowed to submit an application to construct a sixth building on the city-owned parking lot on Front Street. City Planner Wayne Marshall explained to councilors that because Front Street Shipyard does not have right, title or interest to the parking lot, they cannot legally submit any applications to use the property.

When Front Street Shipyard initially approached the city about expanding their facilities, President J.B. Turner outlined three potential locations for a new building. The first location was on property near the Belfast Masker’s Theater building, the second was the city parking lot directly next to building number 5 and the third was to tear down the existing building number 4 and rebuild it to larger specifications. Turner said ideally, the company wanted to locate the building on the city parking lot, where he felt it would best fit.

During a public hearing regarding the possible expansion, residents were primarily supportive of Front Street Shipyard’s growth, while some cautioned the city to be careful about giving up too much waterfront land, or to limit access to the inner harbor.

Front Street Shipyard also is requesting to upgrade the travelift pier in order to accommodate a 330-ton lift. Improvements to the pier would include installing an additional “leg” support, which requires more pilings to be driven. State law requires piling driving to be completed no later than April 15, so as not to disturb migrating salmon populations.

Marshall estimated Front Street Shipyard would submit permit applications to the Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers by mid-December. The permits could take up to 60 days before they are received, which means Front Street would not have them until the end of February. The Harbor Committee, Planning Board and City Council must also approve the permit request, with each group holding at least one public hearing.

In total, that review process could take as long as 60 days to complete, Marshall estimated.

Because Front Street Shipyard owns the land and holds a submerged land lease for all the waters where the improvements will be made, Marshall encouraged councilors to review the marine portion of the proposed amendments separately from the city parking lot amendments due to the stricter deadlines for completing the pier improvements.

However, City Councilor Roger Lee did not agree that the marine and on-shore amendments should be handled separately.

“I think we’re making a mountain out of a mole hill,” Lee said before motioning to grant agent status to Front Street Shipyard.

The motion was approved unanimously by councilors.

“I don’t think we need a stretched out process,” he said.

Front Street Shipyard’s permit application will go before the Harbor Committee during a Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 meeting.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at