Ellsworth City Hall on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Houseboats can stay on Ellsworth waters long-term after city officials shot down proposed regulations that would have banned people from anchoring them on local lakes overnight.

More stringent restrictions could still be on the horizon, though.

For the past two years, the city has been looking at potential restrictions on the floating structures after a houseboat on Green Lake drew complaints from shorefront property owners.

City staff presented an ordinance to the City Council at its meeting Monday that would have banned anchoring or tying up any boat, float, or marine craft that had sleeping or toilet facilities between the hours of 9 p.m. and 4 a.m..

Though the council vowed to continue working on regulations, the ordinance was voted down because some councilors felt the language was too broad and didn’t get at the root of the concern from Green Lake property owners.

City Councilor Casey Hanson worried that the language in the proposal would prohibit people looking to stay aboard their boats for a night or two, something she didn’t wish to see happen.

“I just don’t think the one we have written is the right one, which is not to say it isn’t important,” she said.

The council voted 6-1 to reject the ordinance after more than an hour of debate and public comment from property owners complaining about the disruption of houseboats as well as from Terry and Jason Spinney – the two locals who put a houseboat on Green Lake.

The council planned to continue hammering out the language of the ordinance at a future workshop, saying it wanted to get out in front of a potential proliferation of the floating structures.

The city’s vote comes after Dedham, which also borders Green Lake, enacted a moratorium on long-term houseboat anchoring on its lakes last week.