Boaters urge Marco leaders to repeal anchoring law invalidated three years ago

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. (File photo)

David Ahntholz/Staff

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. (File photo)

Dave Dumas on Marco anchoring ordinance

Dave Dumas on anchoring rights

— Boaters are hoping Marco Island leaders will finally cut ties to their anchoring ordinance that became unenforceable when a state law passed three years ago.

City officials say they want that, too — an end to the rift created between Marco and boaters with an ordinance City Council passed in 2006 that regulated how far from shore, and for how long, boats could anchor.

The Marco Island waterways committee and Marco City Council have discussed revising the ordinance to strike out parts that were voided by a state law passed in 2009 that eliminated local governments' rights to regulate the mooring of non-liveaboard anchored boats.

A draft striking that portion of the city law hasn't yet made its way before council, said Tim Pinter, Marco Island public works director.

"I just want this off my desk," Pinter said.

The last formal public action made in that direction was in March 2010 when the Waterways Advisory Committee voted 7-0 to recommend council revise the ordinance to remove the language inconsistent with state law.

At that time, it wasn't on Pinter's desk, it was on someone else's.

Marco had a whirlwind of change in leadership and staff in 2010 and into 2011. Then- City Manager Steve Thompson was terminated a month after the Waterways Committee recommendation. He was replaced with current City Manager Jim Riviere. Pinter took over for then- Public Works Director Rony Joel, who left in January 2011. There were many other staff changes, Pinter pointed out, citing one of the reasons for the ordinance sitting on the back burner.

Boaters' rights advocates said they just want Marco Island to show they welcome the boating community.

"I think it should be done as a courtesy to the citizens of Marco Island that participated in trying to turn around the image of Marco Island in the boating community," Lee Oldershaw wrote in an email to the Daily News.

He described himself as one of the "Dumas Gang," a group of men in their 70s who challenged the city ordinance.

Councilman Frank Recker and others have referred to Marco Island resident David Dumas as a "folk hero" for his intentional violation of the ordinance in 2007 when Dumas said he hoped to get the city regulation ruled unconstitutional. Dumas had attracted the attention of Marco Island police by mooring a 42-foot motor yacht, the Kin Ship, for more than 12 hours within 300 feet of a seawall near the Esplanade, Marco's luxury waterfront center of shops, dining and residences.

Dave Dumas stands in front of his Krogen 42  motor cruise boat. Dumas made local headlines when he challenged a boating ordinance by anchoring for too long in Smokehouse Bay in 2007.

Photo by qr

Dave Dumas stands in front of his Krogen 42 motor cruise boat. Dumas made local headlines when he challenged a boating ordinance by anchoring for too long in Smokehouse Bay in 2007.

Oldershaw was on the boat with Dumas that day he was cited for violating those time and distance terms of the city law.

The battle between the boaters and city of Marco Island continued into a two-year court case that finally came to an end when the state took over sole jurisdiction of mooring in 2009.

In the meantime, Marco Island had caught the attention and disapproval of national sailing organizations, including the National Marine Manufacturers Associations, as well as international cruising magazines.

Attorney Donald Day of Naples represented Dumas and stood behind the "Dumas Gang," which also included Marco Island boaters Herman Diebler and Carl Henning, the then-commodore of the Sailing Association of Marco Island.

City officials and boaters have since said they were eager to put the long battle behind them.

There has been no public outcry by city officials or residents to prevent the revised ordinance from being approved by council.

It's simply a matter of striking out some language, which City Attorney Burt Saunders has done in the current draft, Pinter said.

"It has been sitting for a while. I want to take care of this, too," Pinter said.

He is hoping for a recommendation of approval at a special-called Waterways Advisory Committee meeting in early April, just in time to get the ordinance on the April 16 City Council meeting agenda, he said.

"I think it is appropriate that these sections be officially removed from the city's code of ordinances, lest some distant future administration find them and resume enforcement," Oldershaw said.

He understands the city probably doesn't have to remove it as there are many laws in many places that are still on the books but no longer enforced, he said.

"The 'Dumas Gang' (members) are all over 70 years old now. Maybe they are trying to outlast us," Oldershaw said.

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Comments » 3

captnjimbo writes:

That was a few years ago and now I am a retired boater that has enjoyed anchoring in beautiful spots in the Great Lakes for years...and we spent a lot of money over the summer in restaurants and local shops. I thought it a travesty that such a great destination as ours was so unfriendly although quite frankly most of our boater friends that visited here could be accomodated within the unfreindly rules...mostly because we could pick them up and show them around. Our police simply needs laws that can let them act on noise, light or physical pollution and laws that encourage squatters to move along. Most transient boaters like to visit and move along and have a place to get out of the weather and rest for a few days. Derilects we don't need or want.

OldMarcoMan writes:

I like not having the abandoned boats, the SMELL, and all the loud noise.
Ill eat out once or twice more per year to keep things the way they are and not go back to the mess we had before.

Throat_Yogurt writes:

Dont have a problem with boats that are kept up anchoring somewhere. Its the ocean, everyone should be able to enjoy it. If its an abandoned/smelly/sh** boat, let'em park back in Goodland. I dont have a problem seeing a 50ft Tiara sitting out in my bay. next thing ya know..we wont be able to anchor at Keewaydin because it bothers Hideaway members...

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