POLLS/PHOTOS: Private council meeting scheduled for anchoring case

Decision to meet in the shade on an anchor case dragging through the courts among decisions at council Monday

Dave Dumas and Lee Oldershaw, both of Marco, anchor the boat Kinship in Smokehouse Bay on Marco Island in January 2007 purposely violating a city ordinance restricting anchoring, which was determined to be unconstitutional leading to a statewide defense of boaters' rights. Marco spent about two and a half years attempting to defend the ordinance and held a series of closed-door meetings--- the transcripts of which are now raising questions about whether officials followed open government and public records laws.

Photo by David Ahntholz .da, Daily News

Dave Dumas and Lee Oldershaw, both of Marco, anchor the boat Kinship in Smokehouse Bay on Marco Island in January 2007 purposely violating a city ordinance restricting anchoring, which was determined to be unconstitutional leading to a statewide defense of boaters' rights. Marco spent about two and a half years attempting to defend the ordinance and held a series of closed-door meetings--- the transcripts of which are now raising questions about whether officials followed open government and public records laws.

Now that Gov. Charlie Crist signed a bill making city ordinances restricting boat anchoring null and void, should Marco officials end their court battles to enforce their anchoring ordinance?

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Should cities, such as Marco, pursue anchoring ordinances?

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— City Councilors questioned whether it was time to no longer pursue a case against Dave Dumas, a Marco Island boater, who in 2007 intentionally and admittedly violated the city’s ordinance regulating anchoring in some areas. Dumas hoped by challenging the ordinance it would be ruled unconstitutional.

Governor Charlie Crist recently signed into law house bill 1423, which will void the ordinance that the city has been spending more than two years and about $60,000 in legal fees to enforce in court.

Defense attorney Donald Day of Naples-firm Berry, Day & McFee is representing Dumas and said all were aware this legislation was coming and questioned why the city pursued the case at all.

“I suggest we give the direction (to counsel) to immediately cease all action on pending litigation,” said Vice Chairman Frank Recker during Monday’s council meeting.

Councilman Ted Forcht disagreed. “We went this far. Why give up now?” he asked.

City Attorney Alan Gabriel, of the Fort Lauderdale-based law firm Weiss Serota, present at all council meetings responded: “If you desire to continue this, I recommend we have that discussion in a shaded meeting.”

Just days before Crist signed the bill, the city had won an argument to have their appeal reinstated.

In January, the local appellate court had dismissed the city’s appeal of a Collier County Court ruling that declared the city ordinance restricting anchoring in its waterways unconstitutional.

The dismissal was on procedural grounds. A three-judge panel ruled the city did not file its appeal on time.

The city fought that ruling and recently won the battle by having the appeal reinstated on May 22.

The bill which is titled “An act relating to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,” deals with several waterway issues including the definition of live aboard vessels and the establishment of anchorages and mooring fields.

The overall legislation takes effect July 1, 2009, however certain portions do not go into effect until October 2009.

All existing ordinances that limit anchoring that do not qualify as live-aboard by the new legislation are to become null and void.

Councilman Jerry Gibson recommended no more money is spent until the meeting, which will not be open to the public as permissible by state law when discussing pending litigation.

Gabriel said no action by the firm is expected before the in-the-shade meeting, scheduled 2:30 p.m., June 15, in the Community Room, 51 Bald Eagle Drive.

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Comments » 7

maharg writes:

When this all ends, the minutes from all "in the shade" meetings must be made public. They should be very interesting. Unfortunately the principals, Moss, Reinke and Yovanovich and several council members have already left.

happy6 writes:

give it up...stop spending/wasting money...we're still an island and boaters can anchor...not live nor disrupt...inour waters...otherwise we need to hire no-quality to start filling in the river and canals....let me assure all the anchored boaters are much more pleasant than the short-term renters.

woods311 writes:

Shady deals come from shady meetings.
Florida is a sunshine state.

JohninMarco writes:

Question to the council, you are now throwing more money at a problem you can not win. The state has seen to that. Park your egos in the shade.

OldMarcoMan writes:

Transient Boaters and Short Term Renters, Hum, Two Peas in a Pod ?
Both blow in, making to much noise and trash then leave without a thought for those who live here.
Actually I'd rather have a Weekend Renter, at least they spend money, Tramp Sailors provision before they leave home.
Your wrong, they are not exactly the same. Short term renters don't pump cr#p into the Canals (Usually).

JohninMarco writes:

The only thing that was pumped into the canal was the $60,000 to fight this loser of a case. Ok which city worker gets laid off to continue this. Only the attorney wins here.

matt#206381 writes:

I've watched many a Mercedez with out-of-state plates going down the road with cigarette butts flying out the window. Transient Boaters, Short Term Renters, and Snowbirds. None of them should be booted out, all of them need to show more respect for the local area.

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