The Boston Conservation Commission voted 5-0 this week to approve a Notice of Intent from Boston Boat Basin, LLC, to relocate existing and install new piles and floats at the marina. Boston Boat Basin, LLC owns Boston Yacht Haven at 87 Commercial Wharf and is controlled by Charles “Chuck” Lagasse who was present at the September 5th hearing with consultants from Fort Point Associates.

Commercial Wharf sign on Atlantic Avenue. Boston Yacht Haven can be seen in the far background at the end of the wharf. (NorthEndWaterfront.com photo)

The Conservation Commission added a general condition to its approval that the proponent continue discussions with the State’s Department of Environmental Protection and abutters toward the creation of a Harborwalk on the southern side of Commercial Wharf. A stricter condition proposed by Commisioner Vivien Li failed 2-3 that would have required compliance with DEP’s directives and requirements toward the construction of such a Harborwalk. Amid objections by the proponent, Chair Charles Button spoke against the measure. “They don’t control Commercial Wharf,” he said.

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The proposed marina pilings and floats upgrades are the same scope of work that had been “continued” several times in the past year by the Conservation Commission related to the long-standing Harborwalk dispute between property owners at Commercial Wharf.

After several prior appearances in front of the Commission, Yacht Haven changed tactics and withdrew their previous request under an existing Order of Conditions. By refiling the marina upgrades simply as a Notice of Intent, the Commission’s authority to impose Harborwalk conditions was limited.

Commissioner Li asked about the two recent waterway collisions involving Yacht Haven and whether the marina configuration is responsible. Yacht Haven said the incidents involved mechanical issues on a ferry and boat not associated with their marina. The Yacht Haven boats involved were on the receiving end of the collisions.

The Harborwalk dispute between Yacht Haven and the condominium association at Commercial Wharf goes back to at least 2004. The walkway section under consideration is from the Atlantic Avenue entrance and extends along the edges of Commercial Wharf on the south side of the property to Yacht Haven where a Harborwalk already exists around the marina building. Under dispute is whether the new Harborwalk section will be cantilevered over Yacht Haven’s watersheet or on the condo’s land portion in the parking lot. One potential compromise is a 4′ land based section and a 4′ cantilevered part over the seawall.  (Click here for a details on the 8-year Commercial Wharf Harborwalk dispute.)

Yacht Haven and Fort Point Associates gained leverage over the condominium association by filing a Request for Determination regarding Chapter 91 requirements tied to a change of use of units at Commercial Wharf from commercial to residential.

The DEP is expected to make its Chapter 91 determination in the next few weeks, according to Program Chief Ben Lynch. “It is well-known that Commercial Wharf is the least welcoming place for the public,” said Lynch. Should the DEP determine that Chapter 91 measures be applied, the agency would likely impose Harborwalk provisions on the property owners at Commercial Wharf.

Representatives from the Commercial Wharf Condominium Association were present at the Conservation Commission hearing this week. They indicated “no objection to the reconfiguration plans proposed by Yacht Haven” in its Notice of Intent.