GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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October 4, 2012

Kirk pushes for vote on keeping harbor rules

Mayor Carolyn Kirk has called for a non-binding referendum on the preservation or removal of the Designated Port Area regulations that cover Gloucester’s Inner Harbor.

In a letter she sent to the City Council on Tuesday, Kirk asked councilors to work with her office on a non-binding referendum question on the Designated Port Area. Results of the referendum, Kirk said, would guide the city’s Harbor Planning Committee as it prepares the next Harbor Plan and DPA master plan.

The harbor planning process will start in November, Kirk has said. In addition to public meetings and a DPA panel discussion the city held earlier this year, she said a non-binding referendum would be a helpful source of information for committee members.

“It’s a ways away,” Kirk said. “The operative word is collaboration between my office and the City Council to get the question right.”

The question, according to a release from Kirk’s office, could read as “Shall the city of Gloucester seek to remove itself from the state Designated Port Area program and in doing so turn over control of its working waterfront to local officials?” or “Shall the city of Gloucester retain its status as a state Designated Port Area thereby assuring protection of the Inner Harbor for marine industrial use?”

In the past five years of harbor planning, Kirk said, the city hasn’t tried to seek voter opinion on the issue.

“After almost 35 years (with the DPA), perhaps it is time to obtain broader input,” Kirk stated.

Kirk did not return a call seeking comment on this story.

While he said he’d support it, City Councilor Bruce Tobey said the referendum wouldn’t be put out next year. And Kirk said she doesn’t expect the ballot question to come up before then.

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