Longest dock on Moose Pond ruled okay

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

The Bridgton Board of Appeals has denied an appeal by shorefront neighbors that a 180-foot-long dock — the longest on Moose Pond — is denying them a sense of privacy.

The board ruled July 24 that Kevin and Joan Murrin’s dock is no longer, wider or higher than necessary for a customary dock, considering that the Murrin’s 120 feet of frontage at 99 Cedar Drive is located on a boggy narrow cove. The previous 100-foot length of the dock only gave them a 20-foot water depth, which is inadequate for swimming and boating,

Extending the dock by 80 feet gave the Murrins a 32-foot water depth, which Code Enforcement Officer Robbie Baker said “is required in order to carry on the boating and swimming activities customarily associated with the reasonable use of a waterfront dock.”

Peter and Bonnie Motel own abutting property to the south of the Murrins, and they filed the appeal based on their belief that the dock reduced their sense of privacy. Their attorney, Peter Malia, argued that the Murrins knew what they were getting when they bought property on a bog.

“You need to decide if every bog owner has a right to deep water access, because that is what Mr. Murrin is asking for,” Malia said at a June 26 public hearing on the appeal. He added that the town is under no obligation to allow a dock that gives property owners the ability to swim.

“A dock is primarily for a boat,” Malia said. To the board, he said, “You need to be careful about the precedent you may be setting” by allowing a dock that is not in keeping with the natural appearance of a cove. ” Others on Moose Pond have smaller docks for larger boats” than the Murrin’s, Malia added.

The Motels said they couldn’t share the cove with a 180-foot-long dock because the cove is too narrow. But the board disagreed.

“Many of the shorefront cottages on Moose Pond are located on fairly small lots in close proximity to each other and typically do not provide complete privacy to their owners,” the board ruled in their findings of fact.

Although initially used as a basis for the appeal, the Motels waived their objections to the manner in which the Murrin’s’ application for a dock extension was handled by the town. When the Murrins originally applied for a 100-foot dock extension in July of 2013, Baker didn’t act on it with 35 days as required under the Bridgton Shoreland Zoning Ordinance, but instead took 170 days before deciding to deny their permit.

Then Baker reversed his denial after the Murrins appealed it and gave them permission for an 80-foot extension, on March 28. The Motels filed their appeal on April 16, and the board began their review on May 22.

“The Murrins’ dock is visible from the buildings on the Motels’ property and it reduces their sense of privacy,” the board said in their findings of fact. But while it agreed with the Motels on that point, the board said, “the dock is located on the far side of the cover nearer to the Warrens’ property and is located as far from the Motels’ property as practicable. The dock is only four feet wide and does not physically block water access by kayak and canoe to and from the Motel property.”

Besides, the board added, William Warren, who is closer to the dock, said he didn’t have a problem with its length.

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