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Harbor Management Plan Recommendation

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My fellow RTM Members:

with the inclusion of item 10 in the October Call, the time has come to ratify the Harbor Management Plan, it having been approved by the Board of Selectmen and the State of Connecticut DEEP, as required. Our vote will be the final step in hopefully implementing the plan. It should be noted that while this plan addresses the needs of the Town of Greenwich today, it is not cast in concrete. With the same approvals as the plan before us, it can be revised annually, and should be so revised as we learn how its provisions work in practice, and as conditions change.

The work of the Harbor Management Commission, in drafting and soliciting approval for this plan, has been long and arduous. Over the 14 months that I have been observing this process, I have come to believe that the primary motivation of the drafters was to preserve, as much as is possible in the current regulatory environment, our ability to manage our harbors as we find in the best interest of the citizens of our Town. As many of you know, these rights were first given to the Town by the State Legislature in the Special Acts 288 and 93 of 1949 and 1955 respectively. Chapter 444a of the Connecticut Harbor Management Act, enacted and amended in recent years, established the need for a Harbor Management Commission, and was seen by many as severely limiting our ‘home rule’ harbor management rights.

In my view, quite the opposite is the case. If we really want to manage our own harbors, then enactment of the Harbor Management Plan is essential. Once enacted, all parties at all levels of government in the State must act in accordance with the Plan. We must, the State-appointed Harbormaster must, and the State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection must. Importantly, we preserve the right of appealing any Harbor Management actions to the Board of Selectmen.

There has also been a lot of discussion about the level of detail in the Plan. It prescribes various implementing actions using the word “should” or the phrase “is supported”, without in most cases specifying how, who, or when, except in the most general terms (see Chapter 7 of the Plan). While many commenters and I would have liked to have had more precise and binding detail as part of the Plan, this is by design. By leaving these details to subordinate regulations to be developed under the plan, we avoid having to take the Plan back for all of its formal approvals each time we feel the need to revise a regulation. At the same time, the RTM will have the opportunity to approve these regulations as they are developed.

The first of these regulations, the ‘Mooring Regulations’ are available in draft form on the HMC web pages. I expect these to be completed and presented to the RTM for approval in short order.

Others will follow. In addition, various subcommittees of the HMC have been or will be formed shortly, to address managing various aspects of the Plan, and to have defined points of contact for other Town agencies working with the HMC.

Given these considerations, I strongly recommend that the RTM approve the Plan. In the current regulatory environment, it is the best available solution for preserving our ability to manage our harbors for the benefit of all our citizens and visitors.

For more information, I recommend that you read the FAQs included in the attachment for item 10 in the meeting documents package. You can also find them and the full Harbor Management Plan document here:

Horst Tebbe
District 6
ex-Officio member of the HMC, representing the RTM
Legislative & Rules
Budget Oversight Alternate