News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 1, 2017
Selectmen to address commercial use at South Blue Hill Wharf

by Anne Berleant

Increased commercial use of the South Blue Hill Wharf raised the question of compensation from bait trucks and lobster wholesalers who frequent the dock, which has traditionally been used as much for recreation as for commercial fishing.

“There’s more vendors and buyers this year,” Selectman Jim Schatz reported to fellow selectmen on May 26, noting a complaint of a bait truck parked at the wharf for three days. “How do we get on top of this?”

Under the 2006 Blue Hill Harbor Ordinance, Appendix, § 1.5, commercial vehicle transport permit, a per-day or annual permit is required for any 10-wheel or 18-wheel tractor-trailer, but there is currently no fee for a per-day permit.

At many commercial ports, dealers pay daily based on pounds of seafood purchased at the dock, Selectman Vaughn Leach said. Permit fees are set annually by the selectmen, according to the ordinance.

One wholesaler who buys lobster at the South Blue Hill wharf pays an annual $3,000 “courtesy” check to the town. Two more wholesalers are now using the wharf, Selectmen Ellen Best said.

“It may be time to enforce [fees] as the burdens [are] getting greater and infrastructure crumbling a bit,” Schatz said.

In addition, parking space is limited, selectmen noted, and fishermen have already been asked to arrange transportation to mitigate the number of vehicles filling the lot.

Selectmen said they will plan a work session with the Marine Resources Committee and return with a proposal. The MRC next meets on June 5, 6:30 p.m., at the fire station, which selectmen said they will attend.

Of the two new wholesalers using the wharf, one serves on the Marine Resources Committee and the other’s father does, Best said. She noted that both will have to recuse themselves from any committee vote on the issue.