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Town will revisit policy on commercial use of Glendale

October 22, 2020
The town will take another look at a policy restricting commercial use of the Glendale launch after a local business owner said the policy seemed discriminatory.

Greg Keenan the owner of Paugus Bay Marine Center and Storage Facility spoke to the selectmen during Wednesday's meeting about how the recently enacted policy could hurt his business, saying the policy felt like a personal slight.

Town Administrator Scott Dunn said under the policy the town will only issue launch stickers to those who own residential property and commercial marine operators can get a permit for $1,000 a year. Businesses that can't apply for this permit are ones that are solely for storage or satellite businesses.

Keenan said when he started the business in 2017 there were no restrictions. About a week before that meeting, he came to the town to get a launch permit to pull a few boats, including his personal boat. He said he has access to a launch, but it is currently under construction. He was told at the town clerk's office he wasn't eligible for the permit, after talking to Dunn he heard the same information.

"He told me, and I quote, we don't want your boats," Keenan said. "That struck me strange because they're my boats, my customers' boats; they're no different than any other boats my competitors handle so I was a little perplexed at why they didn't want my boats."

Dunn later said he didn't say that Keenan's boats in general weren't welcome, but he had concerns about Keenan launching his 37-foot boat at Glendale. Dunn said the town will allow noncommercial boats over 30 feet but will discourage it because they and the trucks they are loaded from can damage the docks.

Keenan said he found out the policy had been passed on June 6. He said the policy was going to impact his business and it seemed to be targeting his business directly. He asked the board to revisit this policy and asked why the board would approve a policy like this in the first place.

Board Chair Chan Eddy said he recalled part of the reason for the policy was an "explosion" of facilities that were for storage only and the Glendale Committee was concerned about having an influx of these storage facilities without ones that did other services.

Selectman Gus Benavides with Planning and Land Use Director and Glendale Committee member John Ayers said the policy was intended to limit the use of the Glendale docks to residents or specifically marine businesses and Benavides said this has been discussed for a number of years.

"I want to get that on the record: I don't want anyone accusing us of having favoritism towards one or another," Benavides said. "I just wanted to make sure of that because we have addressed this over the years it's not something new. We have really looked at this."

Keenan said he was never contacted about this policy and no one asked him if this could potentially impact his business. He said this policy seemed to target him, especially as one of his competitors is a member of the Glendale Committee.

Eddy said he agreed with Keenan that the town should revisit this policy because it had unintended consequences on a town business.

"Sometimes we don't realize this happens until someone like you says, 'Hey I think you overlooked something here,' and which is the reason why I'm glad that you brought it to my attention because now it's something we can address," Eddy said. "Otherwise we'd just be going along kind of ignorant of one of the unintended consequences of this."

Benavides said he would want the Glendale Committee to review this and give their opinion to the board before any decisions are made. Selectman Kevin Hayes said he agreed, but there was a Gilford business owner who had an immediate issue, saying Keenan's business fits the criteria for offering boat services.

Hayes moved to grant Keenann a commercial marine operator's permit to use the Glendale docks under the policy that he pay $1,000 a year. The board approved the motion.

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