How will new mooring ordinance impact recreation on Palermo waters?

Margaret and Gary Mazoki, of Palermo, enjoy their pontoon boat during the annual July 4 boat parade on Sheepscot Lake. (contributed photo by Janet West)

Submitted by Pam McKenney,
Sheepscot Lake Association Board

In March 2023, Palermo residents voted to approve a mooring ordinance for lakes and ponds in Palermo. The ordinance and its impact on Palermo waters, including Sheepscot Lake, will be the focus of the Sheepscot Lake Association’s upcoming Annual Meeting on Thursday, July 20, 6 p.m,. at the Fish and Game Clubhouse, on Rte 3.

The guest speaker this year will be Shawn R. Hebert, Harbor Master/ Chief of the Marine Safety Division, Naples. For a combined 32 years of service, he has been involved in Public Safety and Emergency as well as the training and certifying Harbor Masters statewide. At our annual meeting, Shawn will help us to further understand the role of a Harbor Master on Maine lakes and ponds and to examine the impact of the new mooring ordinance approved by Palermo residents in March.

The new ordinance will manage the placement of moorings and houseboats on waters within the town. The purpose is to provide for safe navigation, to protect the rights of shorefront property owners, and to preserve the health of inland water ecosystems. This was necessary since the State of Maine does not regulate the placement of moorings nor the anchoring of houseboats on Maine lakes, great ponds, and streams within the Water Safety Zone. This zone is defined as the first 200 feet from the high-water mark of any shore or ⅓ distance to the opposite shore, whichever is less.

Before Palermo voters accepted the ordinance, the placement of moorings and anchoring of houseboats inside the Water Safety Zone was left up to the discretion of individuals. Municipalities have little to gain and much to lose if moorings and houseboats are abandoned or seep sewage or sink. Therefore, a committee of stakeholders, including SLA board members, examined ordinances from other Maine towns and developed standards for mooring and anchoring suited to Palermo. These standards ensure that mooring installation, use, and maintenance as well as overnight anchoring does not:

  • impair the public’s health, safety and welfare;
  • result in degraded water quality, loss of aquatic habitat, or interference with navigation;
  • infringe on the rights of shore land property owners.

Beyond human use and enjoyment, Maine waters sustain ecosystems vital to the health and identity of our state. Find out more at the Sheepscot Lake annual meeting and see the Town of Palermo website for a copy of the adopted ordinance which takes effect in 2024. Also, please consider supporting the Sheepscot Lake Association with your membership and attendance at the annual meeting. The meeting starts with a dessert potluck at 6 p.m.


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