A public hearing was held today at 6:45 p.m. in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room, County Government Center, Chestertown, Maryland, for Code Home Rule Bill Number 4-2012, which is AN ACT to amend Chapter 68, Boats and Boating, of the Code of Public Local Laws to provide that moorings being used in connection with permitted Marina facilities may be located outside the extended property lines of such facilities subject to certain conditions; to provide that any person aggrieved by any decision of the public landings and facilities board or of the Director of Public Works may file, within 30 days after the decision appealed from, for an Administrative Review before the County Commissioners of Kent County; and generally relating to the Kent County Boats and Boating Ordinance.
County Commissioners, Ronald H. Fithian, William W. Pickrum, and William A. Short were in attendance as well as Ernest A. Crofoot, County Administrator and County Attorney.
Commissioner Fithian read the Notice of Public Hearing into the record. Commissioner Fithian also read correspondence received in regard to the amendment. The Commissioners received two letters of opposition from citizens. Commission Short submitted a correspondence expressing his support to move forward with the proposed amendment. Commissioner Pickrum offered his changes in the bill that reduces the proposed number of feet of the mooring to the closet pier location at the applicant’s facility, and reduces the number of moorings to ten.
Herschell Claggett shared that he previously proposed that the County allow licensed Marinas with adequate facilities to place mooring buoys, through the permit process, outside the water space within a certain distance of the existing Marinas, with an agreement with property owners. The proposal was prompted by a request by Pepper Gilbert, Owner, The Wharf at Handy’s Point, who needed additional docking to expand. The County would benefit from increased mooring permit fees and an increase in boating activity in Kent County.
Marty Holden, Division Chief, Public Works, advised that there are additional changes to the local code included in the proposed amendment. Mr. Holden shared that the Public Landings Board met on December 13, 2012 and unanimously voted not to support the amendment. The concerns that Board expressed were congestion of the waterway, pollution of the waterway, and the distance from the Marina to the Moorings. Mr. Holden also stated that there is a change to allow vessels to dock in transient areas no more than 24 consecutive hours, this only would affect Betterton dock at this time.
Commissioner Fithian invited individuals who signed the testimony log to comment on the proposed amendment and the following individuals provided comments.
Pat Diver presented a petition with 37 signatures. The petition states the signers believe, the word “adjacent” must be limited to properties that border marinas on land and not water,
there needs to be a limit on the number of moorings, and the distance from the marina to the mooring should be a reasonable distance.
John Bedell stated the three Marinas in Worton Creek are not to capacity and therefore there is no need for additional moorings.
Mark Stapleford, President, Chesapeake Landing Community Association, stated the Association is very opposed to the amendment. Mr. Stapleford stated that Chesapeake Landing is located in a very environmentally fragile area.
John Patnovic, Worton Creek Marina, stated the water belongs to the citizens of the State Maryland. This amendment would give effective ownership of large areas of our water to individuals for financial gain. Adoption of this amendment would initiate a host of additional concerns.
Jeremy Gioffre an employee of Worton Creek Marina opposed additional moorings stated that moorings in Worton Creek would allow Worton Creek Marina’s customers to find less expensive storage.
Joe Campbell a former member of the Planning Commission questioned the compliance with the zoning ordinance. Mr. Campbell feels that any property owner who receives financial exchange for becomes a Marina and is no longer a private citizen.
Ray Clark, Green Point Marina, states that Green Point Marina is not currently at capacity and there is no need for additional moorings.
Carl Detterline, Fairlee Creek Property Owner, feels this amendment is a safety issue and access challenge.
William Herb, Vice President, Fairlee Creek Homeowners’ Association, objects to the amendment due to water quality from discharges, create congestion, and thief and vandal potential. As a citizen of the State of Maryland he is concerned that the change is not a wide spread need in the County, recreational opportunities will be decreased, and watermen access would also be decreased and affect the watermen’s livelihoods.
William Kelly objects the amendment because there are no minimum or maximum of the moorings and no ruling on the definition of adjacent properties.
Marcy Brown states that the water does not belong to property owners. The property owners have riparian rights to use the water. A property owner should not benefit financially from the use of the water.
John LeClair, Service Manager, Worton Creek Marina and Betterton citizen asked the Commissioners to consider changing the Betterton dock to 72 hours at the transient slip. Mr.
LeClair expressed that boats that are docked at the Marina are required to have insurance and boats at moorings are not necessarily required to be insured.
Dianna LeClair, Carriage House Canvas, LLC, Business Owner, expressed the need for more than 24 hours to dock at Betterton to take care of her customers. In addition, visitors would have the opportunity to visit the towns and discover what the County has to offer.
On motion by Commissioner Fithian and seconded by Commissioner Short, the Commissioners unanimously approved conclude the public hearing.
The hearing concluded at 7:03 p.m.
Sondra M. Blackiston, Clerk
Ronald H. Fithian, President
The County Commissioners
Of Kent County, Maryland