Florida Anchoring update

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The first salvo in the 2015 edition of the Florida anchorage wars has been fired with a report on the results of last fall’s anchoring survey to the Highway and Waterway Safety Subcommittee of the state House of Representatives on Feb. 17.

The state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission conducted three anchoring workshops last fall and asked stakeholders to answer a survey to help lawmakers decide what to do about counties and municipalities clamoring to reclaim authority to regulate anchoring.

The 25-question survey, conducted from Nov. 21 to Dec. 7, drew 11,693 responses from stakeholders — cruisers, waterfront property owners (homeowners and businesses), government officials, full- and part-time Florida residents, visitors and others — from all 50 states, the FWC says. The survey found that among respondents:

• 52 percent preferred that anchoring rules be consistently applied across the state.

• 40 percent preferred that local governments, if allowed to have local restrictions, only be permitted to adopt ones authorized by the state.

• 8 percent preferred that local governments have the ability to regulate anchoring.

• 66 percent preferred that the authority remain with the state.

• 66 percent strongly or somewhat strongly agreed with having an anchoring setback from public-access infrastructure — docks, ramps, bridges and mooring fields.

• 44 percent agreed that the setback from infrastructure should be 150 feet, 23 percent agreed with 100 feet and 11 percent voted for 50 feet.

• 51 percent were in agreement that a setback from waterfront residences was appropriate.

• 32 percent agreed with a 150-foot setback from residences, 21 percent thought it should be 100 feet and 18 percent voted for 50 feet.

• 86 percent agreed that boats in a serious state of disrepair should be prohibited from being stored on public waters.

• 66 percent strongly or somewhat agreed with limiting the time a boat can be stored on public waters and after that time requiring it to move to a marina or private dock, be hauled or move 5 miles from its current location; 28 percent strongly disagreed with this.

• 31 percent agreed that the storage limit should be 60 days, 16 percent preferred 30 days and 14 percent thought a 90-day limit was best.

• 27 percent thought the boat should be moved at least 5 miles after its time limit was up; 20 percent preferred 1 mile, 17 percent preferred a half mile and 14 percent preferred 3 miles.

• 13 percent didn’t think the vessel should have to be relocated.

• 48 percent thought there might be extraordinary circumstances that could require a local anchoring restriction; 42 percent strongly disagreed.

• 81 percent agreed that a locality would have to demonstrate a “high degree of need” to adopt a local restriction.

• 88 percent agreed that an interactive online map of local restrictions would be important if counties and municipalities were allowed to adopt local rules.

Florida’s legislative session runs from March 3 to May 1. No-anchoring bills had been submitted by mid-February, but some movement is expected on anchoring before the session closes.

April 2015 issue