The Block Island Times
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Limit for yacht moorings set

By Stephanie Turaj | Aug 26, 2013

The Town Council voted to set a cap on the number of yacht clubs allowed to have a mooring permit. The cap will be 23, and there are currently 22 yacht clubs that have moorings.

The council made the cap on yacht club moorings 23 because one yacht club, Apponaug Harbor Yacht Club, is next in line to receive a town mooring. This yacht club has been waiting since 1991 to receive a mooring.

“I don’t think it’s a hardship, except to perhaps those on the waiting list,” said Second Warden Ken Lacoste at the Wednesday, Aug. 21 council meeting. “The unique thing about the yacht club moorings is there’s almost always two boats on it [the mooring]. So we’re really limiting it to 46 boats, which is a pretty good number of boats.”

Lacoste also noted of the Great Salt Pond: “We have really limited space.”

There is a total of 96 non-resident town moorings available. The wait to finally get one of these moorings is a long one: it can take more than 20 years for a non-resident to get it. Each year, only a few new moorings are given out, after a mooring holder either relinquishes the permit or passes away.

However, yacht clubs rarely, if ever, turn over. Beth Rousseau, clerk for the town Harbors Department, said in a memo that since she started working in her position in 2001, no yacht club has given up its mooring. Lacoste, who also operates a privately-owned marina in the Great Salt Pond, said the last time he remembered any yacht club turn over was around 25 years ago.

“As you know, yacht clubs don’t die,” said Harbors Committee member Arlene Tunney, echoing a comment made at previous council meetings by committee members. “They never turn over.”

The council also voted at its meeting to set a definition for yacht club as “a club organized to promote and regulate yachting and boating.”

The Harbors Committee recommended criteria for a yacht club mooring permit, which the council then approved. To qualify for a mooring permit, a yacht club must have a legally recognized structure, such as a corporation, for three years. The club must have recreational boating as its primary function and a “substantial” portion of its members must own or lease vessels, according to the criteria. The organization must also provide a list of its officers and its members.

Hawker’s and Peddler’s License

The council spent a considerable time discussing proposed amendments to the town Hawker’s and Peddler’s ordinance.

The Hawker’s and Peddler’s license allows a person to have a cart or truck that sells food and beverage on town property, such as a hot dog stand. The council has been working to amend this license to allow only town residents to be eligible for this license.

The council voted at this meeting to allow up to three licenses. The council debated how it would select these three people. It discussed that there might be a waiting list of up to six applicants, and it might select up to three who meet the criteria. The council will have a public hearing on the amendments to the ordinance on Sept. 18.

Energy Issues

Also discussed at the meeting were several ongoing energy issues, which had also been discussed last week at a council meeting at which the town Electric Utilities Task Group (EUTG) was present.

At this meeting, the council voted to have the EUTG look into a letter written by resident Michael Beauregard, who performed a cost analysis about how the Block Island Power Company’s proposed switch to a liquefied natural gas fuel would affect the Deepwater wind farm cost savings. The council also is having the town solicitor look into state laws about net metering, and plans to have an expert look at a proposed solar RFP.

Public Comment

During public comment, island resident Edith Blane brought three issues to the council’s attention. She inquired about the health of a tree that is in front of town hall. Dodge reported that she had at least two experts look at the tree, and it appears to be regaining its health.

Blane also asked who should address the issue of the corner near the Surf Hotel, which has a steep drop-off. Blane has argued for over a year that it is unsafe. First Warden Kim Gaffett said that the Old Harbor Task Force was charged with  looking at this issue.

Blane also distributed a packet to council members titled “Privet Hedges and Other Problems.” This packet contained 24 photographs of hedges and other material such as rocks around the island that are not properly maintained or are too close to town roads, according to Blane.

Other matters

At the Aug. 21 meeting, the council set a policy for service contracts, which will be put out to bid and awarded for two years, with a possible two-year extension.

Also at the council meeting, Town Manager Nancy Dodge provided an update on work to restore the dunes on Corn Neck Road, that were damaged during Hurricane Sandy. She said that there would be work performed to fix the dunes on Corn Neck Road and a general discussion took place about things that could be done to protect that area. She also said that there would be experts coming to look at the erosion near the Town Transfer Station and West Beach.

The council voted to begin legal proceedings on two zoning violations if the individuals do not comply before an upcoming grace period has ended. Town Building Official Marc Tillson has been working to enforce two complaints, one about Suzanne and Frank Walsh’s property, which neighbors have alleged has been used as a wedding venue and an Inn, according to Tillson. The other, Jane and Jorgen Emsbo’s property, has an accessory structure that is allegedly being used as a dwelling unit, which is against zoning ordinances, according to Tillson.

The Town Council voted to add plat 6, lot 62, located on Old Town Road, to the town water district. The council also appointed Tracy Heinz to the Town Library Board.

The council accepted the monthly police report, with Councilor Sean McGarry noting that the number of acknowledged alarms has decreased, and Councilor Norris Pike noting that he would like to see more state traffic tickets issued (there were 22 in June and 60 in July).

Also approved was a special event license for the Block Island Lion’s Club Fundraiser. The council agreed to waive the application fee because it’s for a non-profit group. This motion passed 4-1, with McGarry opposed because the application came in past the deadline.

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