DANVILLE — Plans to introduce non-motorized boat rentals at the Montour Preserve this year sailed through a zoning hearing without objections earlier this week.
The Montour County Zoning Hearing Board approved a special exception for the plan presented by Bob Stoudt, director of the Montour Area Recreation Commission (MARC), which leases the preserve from Talen Energy. The service could start as soon as May 1 if the MARC board formalizes the agreement with the vendor at its meeting on Monday evening.
Zoning hearing board Solicitor Robert L. Marks said at the Monday afternoon hearing that the board forwarded letters to seven neighbors and none objected to the plan.
The MARC board on Feb. 22 approved Riverside Adventure Company, owned by Dave Decoteau, as the vendor to rent unpowered watercraft such as canoes, kayaks and paddleboats from a kiosk and to rent or sell fishing, boating and picnic supplies from a concession stand adjacent to the preserve’s Lake Chillisquaque. No permanent structure will be erected.
Stoudt said the formal agreement is the last step before the concession could open.
“We had to wait to see if the (zoning hearing) board imposed terms and conditions on it,” Stoudt said afterward. “This week we’re going to go back and convert the request for proposal agreement to an agreement with Decoteau.”
The proposal was one of two MARC received, but Stoudt told the zoners that Decoteau offered the service seven days a week, unlike the other vendor who submitted a proposal.
Boaters will be able to rent online, as the kiosk would only be manned on weekends.
Stoudt said there was a demand for the service. Boaters have had to bring their own watercraft to the lake to go out on the water.
Zoning board Chairman Tom Benfer, who belongs to the North Montour Sportsmen’s Association, said the arrangements would work for the organization’s events at the preserve.
He said that previously members had to drag their own kayaks to the lake.
“It’s a good idea,” Benfer said.
Montour County Planning Commission Director Greg Molter said it would be great to have the concession as a convenience for anyone who has forgotten picnic supplies, as he has in the past.
The rentals could be available from May 1 through Oct. 31, from dawn to dark, under MARC’s guidelines. The concession would operate from a temporary mobile structure near the Heron Cove boat launch.
Decoteau previously told the MARC board that his donation to MARC this year would be based on sales, and in the two subsequent years, under the two one-season renewable terms, he would donate 5 percent of his gross income if he makes between $10,000 and $20,000 and 10 percent of his gross income if he makes between $20,000 and $30,000.
Decoteau said he has provided canoes and kayaks to boaters for years at the preserve, driving the watercraft to and from his business. He said that got expensive. With technology such as Bluetooth, better internet access and better cell service at the preserve now, he can offer rentals at the preserve via his website so that the kiosk will not have to be manned daily.