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Greenwich Considers Adding Depth To Harbor Rules

GREENWICH, Conn. – The Greenwich Board of Selectmen wants to know whether creating a Harbor Management Commission to manage the town’s coastal waters would strengthen authority over its extensive harbors.

The selectmen will get an opinion on that from officials in neighboring Stamford on Thursday morning.

“We have 27 miles of coastal waters in Greenwich, and view this as a terrific opportunity for the selectmen to hear firsthand how the commission has had an impact in Stamford, and how it inter-relates with the harbor master,” said Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei.

The Stamford Harbor Management Commission and its Harbor Master Mike Taylor will make a presentation Thursday at 10 a.m. to the Board of Selectmen at Greenwich Town Hall. This comes just weeks after the creation of a Harbor Management Advisory Committee in Greenwich.

Tesei, who wasn’t pleased with the appointment of new Greenwich Harbor Master Ian MacMillan by Gov. Dannel Malloy, said he expects the presentation to be “informative and educational.”

Malloy appointed MacMillan in December, stunning town officials who had recommended William Fox. Malloy defended his choice, indicating he could have chosen anybody because Greenwich does not have a Harbor Management Commission.

“There’s no question that a Harbor Management Commission gives towns far greater authority over its harbors,” said Raymond Redniss, chairman of the nine-member Stamford Harbor Management Commission, which was established in 2004.

“It gives towns the authority to collect fees for moorings, which can raise revenue for harbor activities and harbor master, and can help with overall management of all activities in the waters,” Redniss said. “It also helps with advancing mooring applications to the state’s office of Long Island Sound Programs.

“A state-recognized commission also is a big help with waterfront development that we are currently wrestling with in Stamford,” he said. A commission could also help Greenwich establish better working arrangements with “their neighbors on both sides,” Redniss said.

But Redniss said it isn’t an overnight process, pointing out there are specific criteria for creating a plan on how to manage harbors. As a first step, a Harbor Management Commission must create a working plan acceptable to the state, he said.

Special acts dating to 1949 and 1955 provide Greenwich selectmen with limited authority to regulate moorings, Tesei said. But “at the same time, we recognize we have the ability to draw on many individuals in town who are maritime experts and know a lot more about water-related issues than we do.”

The recently appointed nine-member advisory committee is a successor to the First Selectman’s Coastal Resources Advisory Committee set up in 2008 to advise Tesei on issues relating to the Greenwich waterfront.

“But the new committee expands the panel’s scope, and a Harbor Management Commission could be the way we eventually want to go,” said Tesei. “Hearing from the Stamford commission is a step in that direction.”

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