Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Wrightsville Beach revisits talk of boat restrictions, enforcement options

The issue first came to the Board of Aldermen in August and town staff is asking for direction in resolving the situation.

Sailboats in Banks Channel are a common sight, but some Wrightsville Beach Alderman don't want them overstaying their welcome (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)
Sailboats in Banks Channel are a common sight, but some Wrightsville Beach Alderman don’t want them overstaying their welcome. (Port City Daily/Michael Praats)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Boaters visiting Wrightsville Beach might be in for a surprise as elected leaders continue to discuss amending town code to restrict the length of time they are permitted to anchor in town waters.

Current town ordinances allow mariners to anchor in the waters controlled by the town for 30 days out of a 180 period but Town Manager Tim Owens has submitted some proposed changes to limit these stays.

The topic was first brought to the aldermen’s attention in August of last year when Alderwoman Elizabeth King voiced her frustrations of boats overstaying their welcome.

Related: Wrightsville Beach Aldermen wants to keep sailboats out of their waters for extended stays

Another concern for these boats moored in the waters is the use of them as Airbnb rentals, a growing point of contention both locally and nationally.

On Tuesday Owens addressed the issue to the board during its annual budget retreat, however, no action was taken on the issue.

According to Owens, the current ordinance is difficult to enforce without around-the-clock monitoring of the waterways. The police department does have one boat it can use to patrol the waters, but only a few officers are trained on the boat and enforcing the ordinances from shore is not possible.

What next?

Owens has several suggestions for the town leadership to consider including limiting the anchorage time in town waters to just two weeks per 180 day period.

Other suggestions include:

  • Direct the police to inventory boats weekly, at least from May 1 to Sept. 30 for compliance and civil ordinance violation issuance
  • Direct Park Ranger Shannon Slocum to assist in weekly observation and civil violation issuance year-round
  • Consider installing cameras on Banks Channel that can zoom in on boats moored in the channel (this will cost about $7,000)
  • Amend the town code to add language to address boats that have broken anchor, abandoned vessels, and sunken boats that is consistent with state and federal law
  • Consider installing a boat lift so the police boat can stay on the water
  • Consider purchasing another boat so personnel can assist in the enforcement of these regulations or determine if the police boat can be used by non-sworn officers
  • Install signage at Wynn Plaza regarding mooring and other marine related items

Send comments and tips to Michael.p@localvoicemedia.com or follow him on Twitter @Michael_Praats

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