PORTSMOUTH TOWN COUNCIL NOTES

Portsmouth's harbor plan requires boats to capture greywater in cove

Rule was needed to obtain water quality certificate

By Jim McGaw
Posted 11/13/19

PORTSMOUTH — “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” exclaimed Town Planner Gary Crosby as he flashed two thumbs up after the Town Council approved a new harbor management plan and …

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PORTSMOUTH TOWN COUNCIL NOTES

Portsmouth's harbor plan requires boats to capture greywater in cove

Rule was needed to obtain water quality certificate

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” exclaimed Town Planner Gary Crosby as he flashed two thumbs up after the Town Council approved a new harbor management plan and ordinance for Portsmouth during a brief public hearing Tuesday night.

It was certainly a long time coming. The old harbor plan dated from 1993, and the new document was a complete rewrite, Mr. Crosby said.

The most impactful change in the new management plan concerns Blue Bill Cove. Boaters in either of the two mooring fields mapped out for the cove will be required to capture their greywater discharges.

Greywater is typically a boat’s untreated sink or shower water, in contrast to wastewater from a vessel’s head, which always requires a holding tank. The harbormaster will have the authority to inspect boats in those fields to determine whether they are compliant with the new rules.

Mr. Crosby said the new greywater rules were necessary in order for the town to receive a water quality certificate from the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, which was required by the state Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC).

The state was concerned about Blue Bill Cove since it’s designated as Class SA waters — used for commercial shellfishing — and is where Portsmouth’s only two “destination” mooring fields (BBC-1 and BBC-2) are located.

“In order to get a permit for a mooring, your boat has to have the ability to collect not only the wastewater but the greywater as well,” Mr. Crosby said.

Potters Cove was originally considered a destination field, but it was dropped from that designation after discussions between the town and the state.

The new harbor plan also addresses rights of way (ROWs) to the water. It establishes rules that prohibit people from blocking, barricading, or in any way impeding the public use of or access to designated public ROWs to the water as defined by CRMC or the Town of Portsmouth.

There are 17 official CRMC ROWs, as well as several “town” ROWs, such as McCorrie Point and Sandy Point. However, Mr. Crosby said, “We have never gone through the process of actually designating a town right of way,” which would take a tremendous amount of legal work.

On Mr. Crosby’s request, the council unanimously approved the plan contingent upon designating the town ROWs as “pending” under one of the appendices. 

There were no public comments on the plan during the hearing, other than a brief remark about ROWs by Tom Grieb, a member of the town’s Harbor Commission.

The council thanked members of the Harbor Commission as well as CRMC representative Bob Anson for all their hard work in getting the new plan to the table.

Rosemary Davidson honored

In other business Tuesday night, the council honored local resident Rosemary Davidson with a proclamation for her “many years of dedicated public service to the Town of Portsmouth.”

Ms. Davidson was appointed to the Glen Park Working Committee in March 2007, but was “unofficially” involved behind the scenes since the panel was formed, according to the proclamation.

“In 2017, Rosemary took over the reins from Grace Kinnunen as chairperson for the Glen Park Working Committee. Rosemary has given countless hours and many years to ensure that Glen Park functioned in the best way for the citizens of Portsmouth,” the proclamation reads.

License renewals

The council, sitting as the Board of License Commissioners, granted annual liquor license renewals to a number of local businesses before continuing the hearing until Nov. 25.

The licenses renewed Monday included four Class A licenses for the four liquor stores in town: Allen’s Wine & Spirits, 3001 East Main Road; Ferreira’s Package Store, 1965 East Main Road; Moriarty’s Liquor Locker, 624 Park Ave.; and Portsmouth Liquors, 1557 West Main Road. All four were also granted Sunday sales license renewals.

Resignations/Appointments

The council accepted, with regret, the resignation of Charles Clarke from the town’s Economic Development Committee.

The council approved the re-appointments of Nancy Hall and Deare Warren to the Glen Manor House Authority. 

Raymond Naughton was appointed as a new member of the Prudence Island Planning Commission.

Future meetings

The council’s next two regular Monday meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 25 and Dec. 9. The council hasn’t yet decided whether it will meet on Dec. 23.

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