2008-12-18 / News

Riparian moorings still awash in controversy

By Sam Bari

A long-awaited ruling from the state department that oversees coastal development has failed to materialize—holding up the completion of the harbor ordinance on riparian moorings.

Harbor Management Commission Chairman Michael de Angeli announced at the commission's Dec. 10 meeting that he sent Coastal Resources Management Commission Marine Resources Specialist Kevin Cute another e -mail asking for a conclusive ruling on riparian moorings. Again, Cute failed to respond.

When Cute visited the commission on Sept. 17, he said he would encourage the CRMC to make a conclusive ruling at its next meeting so the Jamestown commissioners can incorporate the wording into the Jamestown Harbor Ordinance. After three months, a ruling is yet to be made.

As early as May 2007, Cute was asked to make clear the CRMC rulings on riparian moorings and procedures for establishing a CRMC-approved mooring area.

At one point, Cute had said that riparian moorings were to be counted in the establishing of a mooring area while the ordinance said that the riparian moorings were not. De Angeli's inquiries were either not answered, or the responses did not address the questions.

In a two-page letter dated Aug. 18, 2008 and received by the harbor clerk Aug. 27, Cute addressed the questions. Although the answer to the question, "Are riparian moorings counted in a mooring area to establish if a mooring area exists?" was preceded by two pages of complex legal terminology, the answer agreed with the written ordinance that riparian moorings are not counted as part of a mooring field.

However, that does not mean that the ruling is not going to change. According to Cute, a final decision has not yet been made. Cute said that he particularly wanted to confer with CRMC Deputy Director Jeff Willis on the history of the different classes of riparian moorings. He said that he also wants to understand the Jamestown history of regulations concerning riparian moorings and right-of-way access.

As a result of CRMC indecision, the commission has been hesitant to make rulings on current cases because they could be overturned. Jamestown residents caught in coastal limbo cannot make plans for the upcoming 2009 boating season. Since moorings are precious in the area, they are generally secured months in advance of their need.

Out of frustration and compassion for boat owners, the commissioners voted unanimously at the Nov. 12 Harbor Management Commission meeting to follow current regulations and not count riparian moorings as part of mooring fields. A riparian mooring is one that is deeded with property rights to land owners. The vote included a decision to issue up to four permits in rightof way access areas where riparian moorings are permitted.

Adding to the lack of cooperation on the part of CRMC, another question was posed to the commission in a letter from Patrick Kilroy, a riparian owner who has been on the waiting list for a mooring since 2005.

Kilroy reminded the commissioners of the "over intense use of commercial moorings in my area." He said that 60 percent of the moorings are designated for private use and he does not understand why for-profit moorings are taking precedence over riparian taxpayers. In his letter, he asked the commissioners to "please correct this inequity."

Chairman de Angeli said, "The current policy is that the riparians get the next available mooring in proximity to the property."

However, Kilroy doesn't understand why he should have to wait years for a mooring to become available when he feels by law, that he is entitled to a mooring now.

Commissioner Andrew Kallfelz suggested discussing the matter with the local operator, saying that perhaps a commercial mooring could be moved to make a place available for a riparian.

De Angeli invited Kilroy to come back and discuss the matter to see if a resolution could be found. Kilroy's father attended the meeting and spoke on his son's behalf because the younger Kilroy had a prior engagement. He said he would pass the message on to his son.

In other business, de Angeli reported that the Ft. Getty Master Plan Committee discussion was about the Newport sailing foundation that wants to put up buildings that would be owned by the town and be used in the summer for a sailing school. A workshop on the subject is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m. to work out the details.

Robert Bowen, chairman of the Facilities Committee, said his group is meeting Dec. 19, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss both the wood pile pier and the curbs and rails improvement projects. Bowen, who also sits on the Wind Energy Committee, said that a turbine west of the Rembijas pavilion at Fort Getty was being discussed.

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