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Hearings Set To Discuss Re-regulating Anchoring on Florida's Waterways

The proposed 300-foot setback rule would effectively ban anchoring in some places. Plus this reg would allow local communities to apply to set their own anchoring rules, which they have not been able to do since 2009.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Commission) is seeking public input on the topic of potential legislation authorizing local governments limited authority to regulate the anchoring of vessels on state waters within their jurisdiction. The following concepts, which are based on experiences in the anchoring/mooring pilot program, will be discussed at two upcoming public meetings in early September and attendees will be asked to provide public comment on each provision. After those meetings, the comments received will be used to refine the concepts before soliciting additional public comment through an online commenting opportunity. 

Anchoring Public Workshops

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Division of Law Enforcement announces two public workshops to which all interested parties are invited.
DATE AND TIME: September 3, 2014, 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
PLACE: Indian River County Administration Complex, 1801 27th Street, Building A, Vero Beach, FL 32960,
(772) 567-8000
DATE AND TIME: September 4, 2014, 5:30p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
PLACE: Manatee County Commission Chambers, 1112 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205, (941) 748-4501
GENERAL SUBJECT MATTER TO BE CONSIDERED: The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission will be holding two public workshops presenting a framework for possible legislation granting limited authority to counties and municipalities to regulate anchoring on state waters in certain circumstances. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed frame work in verbal or written form immediately following the presentation. Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this meeting is asked to advise the respective location at least five (5) calendar days before the meeting by contacting: ADA Coordinator, see numbers listed above. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency by calling the numbers listed above.

Proposed concepts for consideration and comment: 

Local governments could be granted authority to regulate the anchoring of vessels in limited, prescribed situations. Please consider each of the following provisions:

• The owner, operator or person in charge of a vessel may not anchor a vessel within 150 feet of mooring fields, boat ramps, marinas and other launching or landing facilities that are open for use by the general public.

• A vessel may not be anchored overnight within 300 feet of waterfront residential property or in a location that restricts use of attached docks or boat lifts.

For this provision, the following definitions would apply: 

“Overnight” means more than 4 consecutive hours during the period from one half hour past sunset to one half hour before sunrise.

“Waterfront residential property” means any upland property bounded on at least one side by waters of the state, above the water’s edge at the shoreline or seawall, upon which a single-family home, multi-family apartment, townhouse, condominium or other similar residential dwelling exists. This term excludes docks and other infrastructure attached thereto.

• A vessel may not be stored on waters of the state if any of the following conditions exist: o it is incapable of navigating under its own power

• takes on water without the ability to dewater

• spaces designed to be enclosed are open to the elements

• leaking contaminants

• has broken loose or is in danger of doing so

• violates sanitation laws

• listing or aground

For this provision, the following definition would apply: 

“Stored” means not under the direct supervision and control of a person capable of operating the vessel and promptly moving it from a location.

If a local government has a need to regulate anchoring in any way other than those described above, the local government would be required to apply for Commission approval and provide:

• A copy of the proposed ordinance

• Maps illustrating the areas proposed to be regulated

• Substantial competent evidence demonstrating specific local problems that the regulation intends to resolve

• Substantial competent evidence of how the regulation addresses specific navigation hazards, the accumulation of anchored vessels in inappropriate locations and/or the health, safety and welfare of the public while minimizing impacts to access to state waters, fishing and other water-related recreational activities

Proposed exemptions to local government anchoring restrictions include: 

• Vessels requiring safe harbor or involved in an emergency situation

• Law enforcement, fire-fighting or rescue vessels owned or operated by a government entity

• Vessels manned continuously while anchored for four hours or less for recreational activities such as fishing and swimming

• Vessels involved in construction activities or dredging

For this provision, the following definition would apply: 

“Safe Harbor” means taking refuge by temporarily anchoring due to a mechanical breakdown or when imminent or existing extreme weather conditions impose an unreasonable risk of harm, in which case a vessel may remain anchored until repaired, which shall occur within 7 days, or in the event of extreme weather, until weather conditions improve to the point it is no longer perilous to operate the vessel.

If local governments are granted authority to regulate vessel anchoring, all anchoring restrictions adopted in accordance with that authority would be made available to the public through an interactive, online map managed by the Commission.

The Commission would be granted rulemaking authority to establish standards to implement these provisions.