The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is holding off on officially submitting a controversial draft proposed rule for Great Hosmer Pond, in Craftsbury and Albany.
DEC Commissioner Emily Boedecker sent out an email today to interested parties saying the state has received a lot of feedback on the proposed rule and will take at least an extra month before submitting final draft language for the next step of the rulemaking process.
The initially proposed draft rule is precedent-setting because it limits the use of non-motorized watercraft.
The draft states, "Use of racing shells and rowing sculls is prohibited on the pond between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., and the hours of 7 p.m. and sunrise, from the last Saturday in May through the first Monday in September."
Great Hosmer Pond is home to the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, which runs summer sculling programs, as well as a public boat launch, a children's summer camp and private homes. There has long been tension between motorboaters and rowers on the pond.
"During the last few months, I have had a number of conversations with individuals and groups representing the various interests in and around Great Hosmer Pond," Commissioner Boedecker wrote in the email. "We need to be talking about solutions and not just raising objections to other uses of the pond. I deliberately released the draft rule in advance of formal rulemaking to spark conversation about this rule and other potential solutions. The best solution is a collaborative community process, and I continue to encourage individuals and entities to explore this opportunity in advance of a formal rulemaking process and if necessary in parallel to a rulemaking process."
Formal rulemaking starts when Boedecker submits a draft proposed rule to the state's Interagency Committee on Administrative Rules, also known as ICAR. Boedecker had intended to submit a draft to ICAR this month, but says she has decided to wait at least until September.
"The Agency is considering the comments and suggested changes that have been submitted, and continues to seek feedback from the Great Hosmer community," she wrote. "The agency did not file with ICAR in August. ICAR meets monthly. The next deadline for filing is on September 18 in order to appear on the October ICAR agenda. Formal rulemaking will include a minimum 30 day public comment period and public meeting."
Throughout the process Boedecker has said she hopes the Great Hosmer community will come up with its own solution, rendering the rulemaking process unnecessary.