Legislation, Island sentiments may sink Marco’s involvement in anchoring regulations

FWC seeks coastal communities' input on new achoring rules outside of moorings

Article Highlights

  • Marco's potential anchoring regulation involvement remains unkown
  • Marco doesn't have a mooring field or anchoring issues, boaters say
  • HB 1423 requires communities have a mooring field to participate in a program with FWC to create anchoring regulations

— After testing the waters for Marco's interest in participating in the creation of anchoring regulations, many Marco residents say they hope the issue will permanently run aground for the city. After a two year court battle against Marco resident Dave Dumas ended in June confirming Marco’s former boat anchoring regulations were unconstitutional, Islanders on both sides said they wanted the issue to sink once and for all.

“Marco has gotten a bad reputation from negative press in several major sailing magazines during our last dabbling into anchoring regulation and I for one would rather not have our island get any more negative press,” said Councilman Ted Forcht.

The response came after City Manager Steve Thompson sent a memo to council Monday asking if they were interested in working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission on creating anchoring regulations.

Thompson said he sought to inform council of FWC’s invitation to coastal communities to participate in an anchoring and mooring program.

State legislation and leaders in the boating community indicate Marco isn’t a fit a for the program.

House Bill 1423, which was signed by Governor Charlie Crist in June, was the final straw in ruling Marco’s former anchoring ordinance unconstitutional. It also set forth the guidelines for FWC’s initiative to work with five coastal communities on creating consistent anchoring regulations.

Each of the locations must have a mooring field, which Marco Island does not.

When Marco’s Waterways Committee studied creating one in the years preceding the Dumas case, there was little support.

“The committee subsequently recommended against it for several reasons, including lack of local demand or support, the high cost of maintaining buoys, and other costs associated with providing sewage pumpout service, police patrol and enforcement, and liability insurance,” Thompson said.

Island boaters say these conditions still exist making a public mooring a poor endeavor for Marco.

Commodore Steve Fleischer, of the Sailing Association of Marco Island, questioned whether there was an attempt to work around HB1423 to introduce another anchoring ordinance to Marco.

“Otherwise I don’t understand their interest. It’s sad that they already pursued an anchoring ordinance knowing it would violate Florida law. It’s even sadder that it cost Marco Island taxpayers (more than) $60,000 for legal fees to prosecute an illegal ordinance.”

Councilman Chuck Kiester said he didn’t review details of the FWC program yet, but believed Thompson should have latitude to keep the option open by sending a letter of interest, which is due Friday.

However, Marco shouldn’t take on another divisive issue, Kiester added.

“Not again.”

Forcht’s take was similar.

“If we are going to discuss it at all, the question should go to the Waterways Committee for study and citizen input first, then I think the yacht clubs, and SAMI should be consulted for their feedback, then let the council look at the result.”

Residents who once pushed for anchoring regulations, which include Bill McMullan and Dennis Morrissette, didn’t want to take on the issue again. McMullan declined comment.

The sailing association opposes Marco’s involvement.

“Now the council appears to be considering spending more tax dollars without really understanding what the FWC is looking for, or the purpose of the FWC study. By the time City Council finishes spending all these monies, they probably could have made a down payment on a Marco Island Mooring Field,” Fleischer said.

Don Henderson of the Waterways Committee said it wasn’t appropriate for committee members to comment before discussing it in a meeting.

FWC Spokeswoman Tara Alford said FWC and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection want to work with local governments on the best way to regulate boats that anchor outside of permitted mooring fields, which currently cities and counties cannot enforce.

The five sites will be selected by July 1, 2011 and a report on the program will be sent to the governor and Legislature by Jan. 1, 2014.

“It is important to promote boating rights and accessibility, but it is also important to protect the marine environment and maritime property, and reduce the number of abandoned or derelict vessels. We hope this pilot program will help us shape uniform and consistent regulatory regimes that do not overburden the recreational boater,” said Maj. Paul Ouellette of FWC’s boating section.

Dumas said communities with boating traffic and problem areas are the best fit for the program.

“Marco has neither ... Gee, wonder why they didn’t call me, their local ‘folk hero,’ and ask what I thought?”

Council called Dumas a “folk hero” among the boating community for purposefully violating Marco’s previous anchoring ordinance in 2007.

Shortly before presstime Friday, Dumas informed this reporter that Thompson requested Dumas’s opinion on the issue Thursday afternoon.

Marco resident and boater Lee Oldershaw supported FWC’s efforts as long as it didn’t hinder boat crews’ ability to occupy a vessel for safety, but did not support Marco participating in the endeavor.

“Naples requires the crew to move ashore to a motel room after 4 days. That is idiotic and unsafe ... In this pilot plan, the FWC has final approval of any anchoring regulations. The intent of the program is to promote responsible boating, not hinder it and make it unsafe.”

The FWC will select two East coast communities, two West coast communities and one in Monroe County.

Thompson said he did not see a benefit to Marco joining the program but did not confirm whether Marco would send a letter of interest Friday.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 7

Joe_Btfsplk writes:

Is there already a federal mooring field in factory bay?

maharg writes:

No, that is a Federal "Anchorage". There is a difference. A mooring field typically provides permanent devices fixed to the sea bottom attached to floats which a vessel attaches to. In an anchorage, vessels use their own anchors and lines. This anchorage is mostly unusable due to shoaling.

jimbo46marco writes:

let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be...whispered words of wisdom...let it be e e e.

tarquin writes:

I got a lot of flack, when i ankerd my ship in smokehouse bay for like a month, i have never had any one not like my ship untill then....In fact alot of people here do like my ship, but someone realy dose not, so i was soon to find out...
I still do not know who was tring to cose problems for me, my wife, & baby. But the only thing thay could (yell) about was my anker lights, wich i had 10 of them soler charged/dusk to dawn sensor/ led lights... And thay said thay wore out/ or that i had nunn... realy??? all 10 of them??? yea, right, it sounds like jeluscy / or herassment to me... I dont know what is was, but it all sounds a little hokey to me... One time someone called about "ower well fair" it just seamed like thay would make up any reason to herrass us, borbing my ship to leave us notes while we were at the store, out to dinner, just all kinds of crazyness...Now, i have been all over Florida with my ship and never have i been treated like this untill i came home to marco, For this is where i live year round...........I also know marco is braking the maritime law. can some one give marco island a copy of the law... please!!!!
Docking is a problem as well, marco seams to think that the law is 20ft. of any navicable water way/ bays & rivers.... in Fact the law is "maritime that is" you are aloud 20% of the navicable water way, and it gose on to say that; "this law shol supper seed all local & and state laws." and rivers & bays are in there but are subject to other rules and guide lines...
so marco needs to let it alone, or lern the law.

tarquin writes:

in response to maharg:

No, that is a Federal "Anchorage". There is a difference. A mooring field typically provides permanent devices fixed to the sea bottom attached to floats which a vessel attaches to. In an anchorage, vessels use their own anchors and lines. This anchorage is mostly unusable due to shoaling.

marco likes the anchorages around here to be un usable, if thay had there way... oh, waite.. thay do.

tarquin writes:

in response to maharg:

No, that is a Federal "Anchorage". There is a difference. A mooring field typically provides permanent devices fixed to the sea bottom attached to floats which a vessel attaches to. In an anchorage, vessels use their own anchors and lines. This anchorage is mostly unusable due to shoaling.

with a little help we can chang that and make this a freindly anchorage, you know we are a boating communty! We sould be setting the standerds not falling in to coruption. we are Marco Island!!!
And part of the tenthounds island,
its a must see!!!
see we can have it all...

P.S. i hit the post button to soon on my last post. this is the continueation of that.

tarquin writes:

in response to jimbo46marco:

let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be...whispered words of wisdom...let it be e e e.

I agree!!! let it beeeeeeeeee!!!!!

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