By SUE MORGAN
Rose Greco doesn’t own a boat, but felt it necessary to stand up Monday night for boat owners who might not completely understand the wording of proposed revisions to the Fair Haven’s boat storage ordinance.
“It’s ambivalent,” Greco said of language intended to update the 30-year-old boat storage law. “Does anyone here really understand it?”
In the end, a council majority agreed with Greco and with Mayor Mike Halfacre that the wording of the revised ordinance needed to be made clearer and more detailed.
The intent of the proposed changes, Halfacre said recently, is to ease restrictions on boat storage on residential property. The law now allows yard storage of unmotorized vessels from May through October; the amendments would allow for the storage of any boat 21 feet or shorter in length, regardless of whether it is motorized, during those months. In addition, holders of valid hunting, fishing or shellfishing permits would be allowed to driveway dock during the applicable season.
But as written, the revisions were open to multiple interpretations and could be difficult to enforce, Halfacre said.
All the language about whether or not boats could be placed in driveways, front yards or side yards, but not in backyards and during what months is simply confusing and problematic, he told the council.
“It’s almost unenforceable,” Halfacre said. “It places an undue burden on code enforcement.”
Nonetheless, McCarter Avenue resident and longtime boat owner John Feeney pressed the council to act on the words in front of them.
“I see nothing wrong with this ordinance now,” Feeney said, adding that he has removed his aluminum boat from the driveway in front of his home for now. “I just want access to my boat.”
Having attended the past three council meetings at which the revisions were on the agenda, Feeney voiced his impatience after Councilman Christopher Rinn recommended that tabling the measure to add more detail to the language.
“You guys have more important things to worry about than this stupid boat storage ordinance,” Feeney said.
“I would like to move forward with this,” said Councilman Jon Peters who, along with Councilman John Lehnert voted against Rinns motion to table the ordinance during the roll call.
Councilman Jerome Koch, who voted with Rinn and Councilman James Banahan for the tabling, indicated that he would like to look more closely at the details to be sure that any restrictions on storage apply to boat owners living on the riverfront. The law on the books currently exempts boat owners living on the Navesink from any prohibitions, said Koch, who lives along the river.
The result has been less-than-aesthetically pleasing, with boats of all sizes parked year-round in driveways while the vehicles that should be there are instead parked on the streets, Koch said.
“I want to make sure that all properties are treated the same,” Koch said.
The souring economy may be forcing some boat owners to store their vessels outside in their yards or driveways for the winter months rather bear the expense of storage in boatyards or marinas, said Greco, of Riverlawn Avenue.
Any new changes to the existing ordinance will be discussed in the workshop session at the councils next meeting on Dec. 15, the only scheduled time the governing body will meet next month, Halfacre said. If the council chooses to insert those changes, they will be introduced at a meeting after the re-organization meeting in January.
Halfacre’s take on the meeting can be read in this blog post.