LINCOLNVILLE — A number of residents opposed to a 300-foot pier proposed for a coastal property south of Lincolnville Beach sent letters and signed petitions to state oversight agencies in early January.

John Pincince, who owns a coastal property and small farm, created the petition, currently signed by about 70 Lincolnville residents. Signed petitions were sent to the Bureau of Parks and Lands by a public comment cut-off date of Jan. 3, while signature gathering continues, he said Jan. 10.

Tim Forrester of Atlantic Environmental LLC  is overseeing the federal, state and local review process for the project’s owners, Randall Ward and Kristyn Morrisey-Ward. This includes a Natural Resources Protection Act Application to the Department of Environmental Protection, which is currently pending.

The Department of Marine Resources has issued its review of the proposed pier finding that “the project should have minimal impact on marine resources or habitat.” The review goes on to state “no shellfish resources have been documented along this shoreline,” and “no shellfish, marine worms or crabs were found of observed,” during a site visit Dec. 29 a half-hour before low tide.

The proposed pier has also received its permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, according to Forrester.

He has also submitted required documents to the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, which serves as trustee for submerged lands that extend from the mean low-water mark out three miles into the Penobscot Bay. The proposed pier must obtain a lease or easement because it extends 135 feet beyond the mean low-water line for private recreational use.

Pincince lives within a stretch of the Maine coast where there are no piers extending into the bay. This area is between the town-owned pier at Lincolnville Beach, less than a half mile to the north of where he lives, and Camden’s outer harbor to the south.

He has no dispute with the owners of the neighboring 37 Shag Rock Point property, he said, but does object to the pier they want to build. He sees the 300-foot-long pier, with a seasonal 55-foot-long ramp and a 30-foot-long float, as physically and visually obtrusive and dangerous for paddle craft and small boats that frequent the shallow water.

Pincince created the petition to address his concerns. To date it has been signed not only by residents who live on the coast, but those who live inland as well.

The way Pincince sees it, submerged lands are held in trust by the state for the people of Maine. If enough people are opposed, we feel it’s our duty to let the state know about this opposition, he said.

By extending out from the shore 385 feet, the structure will interfere with the enjoyment of the area by those who walk the shore, swim, fish, paddle along the shallow waters or sail smaller boats, according to Pincince.

It “creates a significant safety concern particularly given the exposed wind conditions of this part of the Bay,” for children, visitors and residents, “who are not necessarily expert sea kayakers or skilled swimmers, and may not have enough familiarity with the area to safely navigate around such a massive structure,” he wrote in the petition.

The pier, supported by six sets of granite block cribs, and at a height of approximately 10 to 16 feet above the cobble beach, is completely out of scale for this area of the coast, according to Pincince.

The petition states his view that the area of the coast “resembles and represents the untrammeled shore that existed before there was human development. Walking along it people have the experience of being in an unusual and even sacred place.”

This coastline remains like this, in part because it is open and unprotected, constantly exposed to wind and waves, and not suitable for recreational piers, he said. Still, he is worried the proposed pier might set a precedent for building similar structures.

Pincince also presented his concerns to the Select Board Dec. 27, 2021. Board members said they wanted to encourage public comment and participation at the meeting, but Chair Ladleah Dunn made it clear the board could not discuss the proposed pier, which is outside its jurisdiction.

To date, Forrester has submitted all required applications for federal and state approvals. He expects to hear from the Department of Environmental Protection by March. If the Natural Resources application is approved, he will then submit the application to Lincolnville’s Planning Board.

The length of the pier is needed to ensure there is 4 feet of water under the float at low tide, which can fluctuate by a couple of feet, according to Forrester. The Marine Resources review also confirms the length of the proposed structure is needed for that reason.

Forrester said this would not be the first private recreational dock of this length in Lincolnville. There is a dock north of Lincolnville Beach that is in the range of 280 +/-  feet long, he said. That dock is connected to a boardwalk of about 600 feet long on land, he added.

“It’s not uncommon when you move forward with an application that you often run into opposition. However individual arguments have to be relative to the rules that govern these structures,” he said. “So far no one has stated that we’re breaking any rules.”

Forrester said the plan is for a local contractor to build the pier. The contractor has been in touch with ferry captains and local fishermen, and none of them have any objections, he said. The proposed pier structure is not going to impact lobster fishing habitat, and it could improve safety in the area of shag rock, which is an unmarked navigation hazard at low tide, he said.

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