Amended anchorage ordinance proposed

Bradenton Beach anchorage
The navigable waters south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier serve as an unmanaged anchorage that remains a cause of concern for city officials and some city residents. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

BRADENTON BEACH – City officials are working on an ordinance that would provide for greater enforcement of the navigable waters and unmanaged anchorage south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier.

City Attorney Ricinda Perry presented Ordinance 17-479 on first reading during the Thursday, Feb. 16 city commission meeting.

If adopted upon second reading at a future meeting, the new ordinance will replace Ordinance 09-412, adopted in 2009, when the city was pursuing the creation of a managed mooring field. Those efforts were later abandoned due to the permitting and construction costs associated with anchoring mooring balls into state-owned submerged land.

Although the mooring field was never fully pursued, the 2009 ordinance still works in unison with permission granted by the State of Florida that provided the Bradenton Beach Police Department with expanded enforcement boundaries. These boundaries still extend 1,500 feet from the shore and out into the Intracoastal Waterway from Eighth Street South to Cortez Road. The police department also has enforcement jurisdiction within 500 feet from shoreline for the rest of the city, on both the bay and Gulf sides.

Last week’s meeting included no discussion on any present pursuit of a managed mooring field, but the new ordinance would still allow for a managed mooring field or anchorage at a later date.

Consensus reached

Police Chief Sam Speciale discusses the amended ordinance with Bradenton Beach commissioners. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

City Police Chief Sam Speciale told the commission he needs an updated ordinance in order to address his concerns about property management operations being advertised and conducted in regard to renting sailboats out as places of residence. Speciale said is it virtually impossible to identify the true owners of many of the vessels being rented, which leaves the city on the hook for removing the vessels that sink.

The commission reached consensus on several key elements contained in the ordinance.

The commission agreed to allow code enforcement regulations to be enforced in the city waterways. This would allow escalating fines to be levied on repeat offenders, rather than the $75 citations issued by the police department.

Commissioners agreed that business operations conducted on vessels anchored in city waters would be required to obtain a business tax receipt from the city, but this would not apply to water taxis and ferries that dock temporarily at the public day dock, where financial transactions are prohibited.

The commission agreed to strike language proposed by Perry that would have established a permitting or licensing process for water taxis and ferries. The commission agreed that these were desired activities and there was no desire to inhibit them.

Commissioners also agreed that the ordinance would be broad enough to incorporate the enforcement of state, county, city and Coast Guard laws and regulations.

After differentiating that mooring involves tying off to a fixed or submerged structure and anchoring simply involves dropping anchor, the commission agreed that all such references listed in the ordinance would apply to mooring, anchoring and tying up to another vessel – a practice known as rafting.

The commission agreed that various fines could be issued for different infractions and differing fine amounts could be established by a city resolution that is easier to amend than a city ordinance.

At the suggestion of Perry, the commission agreed that gambling boats will not be allowed to dock at the public day dock or debark anywhere in city waters.

The commission agreed to strike all references to the dinghy dock that were included in the 2009 ordinance in anticipation of a managed mooring field. Instead, the dock between the Bridge Tender Inn and the pier will be treated simply as one of the city’s public docks, with no special rights given to those who use dinghies to commute between their offshore vessels.