Gerry Island Proposal Draws Crowd of Opponents

Conservation Commission, questioning the use of the island as a boat yard, schedules another site visit Tuesday night.

The meeting Thursday night drew a crowd of about 80 local residents, the majority of whom came to oppose plans by Peter Noyes for Gerry Island off Little Harbor on Marblehead's northeast shoreline.

Much of the lengthy meeting was devoted to what Noyes plans to do on the island. He has asked for a permit to . To facilitate that construction work, he has also applied to build a 30-foot by 60-foot pad with three-inch thick gravel for unloading boats or trucks.

Commission chairman Walter Haug, recognizing that the proposed project is “high profile” in the community, grilled Noyes on his long-term plans for the island.

Noyes, who denied that he is purchasing the island from Ted Moore's Redstone Realty, said he plans to use the island to store and maintain his 12 boats and possibly others.

He said since the project has received extensive publicity, several people have approached him with ideas of how he might develop the small island. But he has not pursued any of the proposals.

“I have no desire to cover this island with boats,” Noyes said. “Absolutely I would not do that.”

A key to the project seems to be whether Noyes is allowed to use a rock and gravel causeway that links Gas House Beach to the island. At low tide cars and trucks can cross the naturally formed causeway.

Noyes, who maintains that the island owner has the right to use the causeway, told the commission that Town Engineer Becky Curran has asked for a legal opinion on whether the causeway can be used to transport construction equipment and service his boats.

“I have no intention of having a busy highway to the island,” Noyes said. He said the use of the causeway would be infrequent.

Commission member Fred Sullivan questioned his plans for a boat yard when the island in very large storms could be eight feet under water.

“I don't see how you can realistically use that as a boat yard,” Sullivan told Noyes. “I wouldn't want a boat yard over there.”

Opponents remain skeptical about Noyes' long-range plans.

Several members of the audience were skeptical of Noyes' plans for the island. They pointed to the application's lack of specifics as suggestive that he has bigger plans for the island.

Frank McElroy, an attorney, said it is “astounding that none of the (commission's) questions were answered.”

Opponents have formed a group, called Friends of Little Harbor, and hired their own engineer, Curt Young, to provide expert advice on Noyes' proposal.

Young also complained about the lack of specifics in the proposal. And he questioned why Noyes and his engineer, Peter Ogren with Hayes Engineering, were using a 1986 survey of the island, rather than a current survey.

Noyes and Ogren repeatedly said that they are asking at this point only to repair the seawalls to “stabilize the island.” Any other plans for the island would have to be approved by federal, state and local agencies, they said.

Haug, telling the audience at one point that “my heart is with you,” questioned the need to “stabilize” the island. “Stabilization of the island is not a correct description of what you are doing. It is a misstatement,” the chairman said.

At the opening of the hearing, Haug told the audience which spilled out of the basement hearing room at the Mary Alley municipal building, that the commission is limited to acting only on the proposal to repair and rebuild the seawalls. The commission cannot consider legal or aesthetic issues, but would rule on the proposal based on the rules governing wetlands, he said.

The entire island is considered a wetlands resource area.

'Will common sense ever prevail?'

Noyes, who noted that the project would have to be approved by multiple agencies, became frustrated with the criticism of the project and of himself personally. He asked, “Will common sense ever prevail in any of this?”

After the meeting Noyes, who owns the Rockmore Floating Restaurant and the Hannah Glover, was upset at a comment by Brian Moriarty, who asked the commission if it would consider Noyes' history of disregarding legal orders. Haug said the commission has no authority to consider an applicant's personal history.

Several commission members questioned how the landing pad would be built and whether several large boulders would have to be removed, which would have to be approved by the commission. They also questioned whether several seawalls existed.

To resolve differences over the seawalls and the landing pad, the commission scheduled a second site visit to the island at 5 p.m. on May 17.

Several commission members and Curt Young with the Friends of Little Harbor will make the site visit.

At the end of last night's hearing, Noyes proposed to install a temporary wooden float and gangway to facilitate access to the island until the causeway issue is resolved.

He called the float “a friendly gesture.” But opponents objected, saying the float might hurt the lobster beds nearby.

The commission postponed ruling on that issue until its next meeting on June 9.

KlassySalem May 16, 2011 at 07:07 PM
Concerned Citizen May 16, 2011 at 07:19 PM
More from the guilty plea -- and I do note taht Rockmore agreed to plead guilty to only tow count and denied the rest. MR. MITCHELL: . . . Count 1 charges, the government would prove, that the evening of August 12, 2006 the HANNAH GLOVER was carrying passengers on a pleasure cruise along the North Shore along, near the towns of Marblehead and Beverly. It at all times remained within a mile of shore. And, of course, those areas are navigable waterways of the United States. When the sewage holding tanks filled up on that night, rather than discharging the sewage properly ashore, the captain of the vessel acting within the scope of his employment and for the benefit of the defendant corporation, at least in part, directed deckhands to open the overboard valve from the sewage holding tank and discharge some indeterminable amount of untreated human waste into the water. Similarly, with respect to Count 2, Your Honor, that was likewise a pleasure cruise in the same area, that is to say, within one mile of shore of the North Shore towns that I just mentioned. Again, the sewage tanks filled up and the same captain ordered that the tanks be discharged and did so again within the scope of his employment and motivated at least to benefit, in part to benefit the corporation. The deckhands opened the overboard valve and again an indeterminable amount of human waste was discharged into the local waters. The government would prove all of that beyond a reasonable doubt.
Concerned Citizen May 16, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Here Rockmore atty agrees to the two counts to which the company pleads guilty, and denies the larger pattern: [Rockmore atty]: Just so the record is clear, Your Honor, there are two specific charges to which the corporation is pleading guilty. And that is on two separate occasions -- THE COURT: I think that is -- [atty]: -- sewage was discharged. Your Honor, it is a strict liability crime. We accept the government's representations that the employee has told the government that it did that on those two days and, therefore, the corporation is liable. Mr. Mitchell made reference to other allegations in the Information. Just so that the record is clear, Your Honor, the company does not agree with those other allegations in the Information . . .
Sarah May 17, 2011 at 12:48 AM
Atlantic - the town regularly test for e.coli at all of the public swimming beaches, so you are spewing nonsense.
Susie Leahy May 18, 2011 at 01:30 PM
I agree with Joey Johnson...Mr. Noyes should look at other available sites to house his boats. Why doesnt he build a float off his own property on the Neck? Little Harbor is just that..."little" and does not need more development or congestion. Gerry Island is truly a gem and should be left alone. In my opinion, it would be ridiculous to have trucks and machinery drive across the causeway while the children are playing there...USE YOUR COMMON SENSE! Neighbor of Gerry Island


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