A joint committee meeting to discuss docking fees for non-residents in Chatham turned violent Thursday evening, as two men shouted expletives and threw punches at each other.
The meeting between the Chatham Waterways Advisory Committee and another committee that oversees the town’s Aunt Lydia’s Cove, which was filmed and posted on the town’s website, became heated after about a half hour.
David Davis, a member of the Waterways Committee, jumped out of his chair after calling Cove Committee Chairman Doug Feeney an expletive. The two then traded insults before Davis lunged at Feeney, knocking another committee member out of the way.
Davis struck Feeney first, and Feeney returned the blow before the two were separated by other committee members.
The meeting had been called to discuss the Waterways Committee’s position that docking fees on the Chatham Fish Pier should be raised from $300 to $1,000 for non-residents, plus extra fees associated with boat size.
The proposition was controversial because many non-residents who would be affected may have grown up in Chatham and moved to neighboring towns, but have been part of the fishing community for most of their lives, according to Selectman Timothy Roper, who was at Thursday’s meeting.
The two committees approved the increase two weeks earlier, but some members had been absent and requested a reconsideration of the vote.
This request “provoked the Waterways guys into a certain testiness,” said Roper on Saturday.
There were no injuries reported and no charges filed, he said.
Town Manager Jill Goldsmith and Jeffrey Dykens, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, were both notified of the incident by Roper, who said that they will be reviewing Davis’ status as a committee member.
“The Board of Selectmen doesn’t tolerate this kind of behavior,” Roper said. “It’s unfortunate that it happened, but it’s unacceptable.”
Roper pointed out that the two men involved in the fight have known each other within the fishing community for years, and that “it was more like a family fight than anything else.”
Following the fight, the meeting continued for another hour and a half in a “very civil” manner, according to Roper, who added that the “explosion helped clear the air and people got back to work.”
The discussion on docking fees will continue at a future meeting, Roper said.
Reenat Sinay can be reached at email@example.com.