Rockland harbor on Tuesday Sept. 7, 2021. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

More than a dozen midcoast residents are fighting against a proposed marina expansion in Rockland Harbor.

The Department of Environmental Protection granted Safe Harbor Marinas a permit under the Natural Resources Protection Act last month to allow for the expansion of the company’s Rockland marina.

The expansion has faced pushback in Rockland since it was proposed several years ago. The project has since been scaled back, but the group recently appealed the permit, feeling the expansion would ruin the scenic views of the harbor and impede overall access.

“If the proposed expansion is permitted to proceed, the appellants and other Rockland residents and visitors will have an undisclosed number and size of mega yachts as well as numerous other large yachts blocking the scenic view so many now enjoy and even rely on as part of their aesthetic day-to-day life practices,” according to the appeal.

The appeal was received on Jan. 7, and it’s now being reviewed by the department’s Board of Environmental Protection, which handles matters like rulemaking and appeals, according to spokesperson David Madore.

“The permit will remain in effect until the Board deliberates the appeal request and issues a decision,” Madore said.

The project needs the permit to move forward. It also needs final approval from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, which granted preliminary approval last month. A final decision is expected later this week or early next week, according to Karen Foust, a submerged lands coordinator with the bureau.

Safe Harbor Marinas is planning to more than double the docking capacity and increase the availability of dockage in Rockland. Additions include new floats, pilings and fixed piers that would result in 3,500-square-feet of additional docking space. The expanded marina will serve vessels ranging from 20- to 200-feet long, according to Department of Environmental Protection documents, with a majority of vessels ranging from 30- to 60-feet long.

In its review of the project, the department found that the “proposed activity will not unreasonably interfere with existing scenic, aesthetic, recreational or navigational uses of the coastal wetland.”

But the group fighting the permit feels the department erred in their approval and argue that the project will ruin views of the harbor, its public use as well as the use of a nearby beach and boardwalk. They also claim that the environmental concerns were not adequately considered and the potential impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitat.

Appellants also expressed concern that a formal agreement regarding public access and compensation for mooring relocation between Safe Harbor Marinas and the city of Rockland has yet to be signed.