Aquaculture permit on hold until December

Sep 20

A second aquaculture license isn’t happening for Shea Doonan – at least not yet.

Last December, Doonan came before the selectmen with a request for an aquaculture license on Mitten’s Flats. However, the process came to a halt in January after Catherine Brodeur transferred her aquaculture license to Doonan.

The town’s regulations state that a second half-acre site can only be issued to an applicant once he or she has proven to be responsible with the first site.

Instead of outright denying the application in January, Doonan had requested a continuance to June. When June came, he requested another continuance so he could prove himself to the Harbormaster.

However, at the Sept. 19 meeting, Harbormaster Isaac Perry and the selectmen still weren’t quite ready to approve another site for Doonan.

“I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves,” Perry said. “To me it’s a regulatory issue at this point. I just think it’s too soon. If the Board of Selectmen approve it that’ll be overlooking that regulation, and I think that’s a bad precedent to set…I can’t support this application moving forward.”

Doonan argued that the regulation didn’t state a specific period of time for review between sites.

“I don’t think it can be clearer that it’s a discretionary thing,” Doonan said. “[The regulation] specifically gives that discretion to the board and harbormaster. I don’t know why we’re giving it a definition it doesn’t have.”

According to Perry, the regulation reads, “Petitions for additional areas in subsequent years will be considered upon favorable review by selectmen and harbormaster.” Specifically, it was the word “years” that stopped Perry, as it had not yet been a year since Doonan took over Brodeur’s site.

Doonan said that even if the board approved the application that day, he wouldn’t be able to start his site until March at the earliest, which would put him over the year mark. He added that pushing it off until December would be detrimental to him.

“If we wait…it won’t be until April [the Department of Marine Fisheries] can get out to the site, and then all of the sudden it’s next year,” Doonan said. “If we continue this it’ll be another wasted year.

The selectmen were sympathetic to Doonan, but ultimately decided to hold off.

“I personally don’t have any problem with what you’re trying to do, but I think it’s important that the harbormaster is on your side,” Selectman Norm Hills said.

Ultimately, the decision was continued until Dec. 19.