2013-05-16 / Front Page

have authority to ticket boats

Chief Mello first wants to see how many residents are violating ordinance
BY MARGO SULLIVAN

Police Chief Ed Mello told the Harbor Commission at its May 8 meeting that he will “tread cau­tiously” before ticketing residents for violations in rights-of-way, such as boats parked illegally.

“I have to be cautious not to se­lectively enforce some of them,” he said.

Jamestown resident Sav Rebec­chi, who raised the issue about obstructed rights-of-way at the commission’s April meeting, asked Mello if violators could be issued tickets. Rebecchi presented a pho­tograph showing several boats parked on a right-of-way in James­town Shores.

Harbor Commission Chairman Michael de Angeli said the Police Department has the authority to issue tickets per the harbor ordi­nance.

However, before going forward with citations, Mello said he first wanted to see how many cars, boats and sheds are currently infringing on the rights-of-way.

Mello also reported the Town Council took up the debate over rights-of-way at its May 6 meet­ing. The councilors will consider the next steps at a future session, but one option may be appoint­ing a new commission. The new panel would include a representa­Potter tive from the Harbor Commission. Its charge would be to prioritize reopening the rights-of-way since some appear to require legal action and others pose engineering prob­lems.

Meanwhile, the staff has been in­structed to document existing con­ditions on the rights-of-way.

“Do we need to do anything at this point?” de Angeli asked.

No, Mello replied.

But Commissioner Patrick Bolg­er said the Town Council will have to act in order to pursue the issue further. In the meantime, he said, Mello has the authority to enforce infringements.

Commissioner William Harsch noted the town is obligated to pro­tect the rights-of-way.

“The ordinance makes it clear,” Harsch said. “They are always sup­posed to be open.”

He added that clearing the rights- of-way is not at the council’s dis­cretion.

Bolger reported he had said the same thing at the May 6 council meeting. He also told councilors the town is responsible for mainte­nance on the rights-of-way.

“Maintenance is the responsi­bility of the town,” Harsch said, adding that the Coastal Resources Management Council has been “very clear” on that.

Commissioner David Cain asked Mello about the council’s charge to the new rights-of-way committee.

“There is no committee,” Mello said. The council hasn’t decided yet whether to establish one, he added.

Cain also asked Mello about giv­ing people advance warning before issuing any tickets.

“Can you send a notice?” he asked.

“I’m sure many of these people would comply if they knew they were supposed to,” de Angeli said. He suggested a letter might be all the enforcement necessary.

“Send them a letter,” de Angeli said. “It wouldn’t have to be any­thing too pretentious.”

Mello reiterated he wanted to wait until he had researched the le­gal issues.

“I tread cautiously,” he repeated.

In other business, the CRMC has given its conditional OK to the Harbor Department’s ordinance and management plan.

According to an April 23 letter from CRMC Deputy Director Jef­frey Willis, Jamestown has won “interim approval.” It’s good for one year. Meanwhile, the CRMC is requiring new language in the man­agement plan “for consistency” with the state plan, Willis wrote.

De Angeli said most of the CRMC additions deal with ensur­ing public access to the waterfront.

“The stuff that CRMC wanted was to add to our definitions of classes of moorings,” he said. De Angeli suggested adding a state­ment: “General public shall be en­titled to a mooring permit at a 3-1 ratio of residents to nonresidents.”

But in reality, the town would not give out permits at the 3-1 ratio because “there is no public access available, so as a practical matter, none of these things are going to come to pass.”

But Bolger warned the state that changes could place signifi­cant pressure on the rights-of-way. There is no waiting list for right-of- way moorings, he said, and if the CRMC language is adopted and people apply for mooring permits, the town would be obligated to grant the requests.

That isn’t the plan, de Angeli re­plied. “We are supposed to reduce these by attrition,” he said. Accord­ing to de Angeli, all the right-of- way moorings are grandfathered.

“We have harbor areas and moor­ing areas,” de Angeli said. “Moor­ing rights-of-way are orphans.”

Nonetheless, Bolger predicted the harbor office will receive a number of requests for right-of- way moorings if the CRMC lan­guage is adopted.

“The language they’re putting in,” he said, “is going to open it up.”

Harbormaster Sam Paterson said he was doubtful people would ap­ply for right-of-way moorings once they realized how difficult access­ing them will be.

But Bolger said people will deal with the inconveniences. If neces­sary, Bolger expects they’ll park on the street and cart their dinghies back and forth.

Commissioner Ed McGuirl also questioned a CRMC condition ban­ning motorized vessels in shallow- water habitat. If adopted, the con­dition would mean the Fort Getty boat ramp could not be used. More­over, the condition could result in the unintentional closing of Dutch Harbor and other areas where com­mercial fishing and recreational boating are currently allowed due to grandfathering.

Potter Cove and other areas would also be affected, he said.

The panel instructed Mello to go back to CRMC and learn more about issues concerning shallow- water habitat.

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