Saturday, September 30, 2023

Carolina Beach moves forward with Harbor Ordinance, if approved would limit anchorage to 30 days

The proposed Harbor Ordinance would limit boaters to 30 days in town waters every six months as well as create new definitions to allow the town more authority to regulate its waters.

Soon a pedal pub on the water will be operating out of Carolina Beach (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)
Soon a pedal pub on the water will be operating out of Carolina Beach (Port City Daily/Johanna Ferebee)

CAROLINA BEACH — Efforts to better regulate mariners in Carolina Beach are underway in the town as staff continue to move forward with the creation of a new harbor ordinance. While it has been a topic of conversation for some time, the town has finally offered a first look at the draft plan.

One of the biggest changes to the town code would limit the length of time boaters can remain in town waters, just 30 days every six months.

Code enforcement, in general, is more difficult in the town’s waterways and the town has had a number of problems with boaters not adhering to town regulations. Some of these issues include:

  • Abandoned vessels
  • ‘Live-aboards’ both anchored and in marinas
  • Regulating waste being dumped into the waterways
  • Breaking anchor
  • Dangerous anchorage
  • Unauthorized use of public property
  • Managing public resources
  • Communicating with the boating community

Related: Carolina Beach struggles with regulating boats, including long-term anchorages and sewage dumping

For Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin, one of the biggest concerns is the growing number of abandoned boats in town waters.

“Speaking of those bad things that we’ve seen over this past summer and they seem to have been growing over the past few seasons is abandoned vessels. A lot of folks will have a vessel that is older and they no longer want to take care of it so they have seen they can just anchor out and leave it and just go away. That’s been a challenge for us with our rules now so we’re hoping to put a little more teeth in here [the ordinance],” Parvin said.

One of the challenges when it comes to regulating the waterways is establishing jurisdiction, but Carolina Beach is fortunate, according to Parvin since the state has given the town a bit more jurisdiction compared to other coastal towns.

Session Law 2010-73 essentially expands the authority of the town and allows Carolina Beach to enforce laws in the harbor and shoreline area in the town. The inclusion of the term ‘shoreline area’ is the biggest part of the law, Parvin said, allowing the town to regulate the waters within the marina area. Without this phrasing, the town would be more limited on what they can and cannot do.

What’s in the new ordinance?

The town does currently regulate activities in the municipal harbor areas and channels, existing code lacks definitions and ‘teeth.’ But the updated ordinance would change that.

New definitions have been created to address abandoned vessels, derelict vessels, and illegal anchorage.

Abandoned vessel means:

  • A vessel that is moored, anchored, or otherwise located within the shoreline area for more than thirty (30) consecutive days in any one hundred eighty (180) consecutive-day period without permission of the Town,”

Derelict vessel means a vessel that:

•It is in significant disrepair, such that the condition may affect the seaworthiness of the vessel or affect the safety of the public or the environment.

Does not meet navigational rules of the road

Illegal Anchorage means:

hazard to navigation or interfere with another vessel.

anchor, dock, moor, or store any vessel in the shoreline area for more than ten (10) days in a thirty (30) day period in any calendar year, except at a private dock or marina.

(not abandoned till 30 days)

The addition of a 30/180 rule, that is, no boat can anchor in town waters for more than 30 days every 180 days is not carte blanche, it is a privilege that can be revoked.

According to Parvin, the 30 days rule can be revoked if boaters fail to meet town requirements like legal registration, failure to attend to the vessel, and living aboard without adequate waste holding tanks.

One of the reasons for the new ordinance, as stated before, is to help regulate the amount of waste dumped into the public waters. If the ordinance is passed as written, boaters mooring in the town waters will have to provide weekly pump-out receipts proving they are not just releasing waste into the sound.

The new ordinance has not yet been approved but it will likely be voted on at the upcoming Nov. 12 Town Council meeting.

The entire proposed ordinance can be found below.

Harbor Presentation by Michael Praats on Scribd


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