Police cracking down on abandoned boats

  • Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Abandoned boats are being cleared out of Georgetown Harbor.

The City of Georgetown Police Department has begun enforcing the law that prohibits anchoring in the public city space.

Abandoned boats were given notice on June 30 and have 60 days to comply.

According to Chapter 20, Section 141 of the Code of Ordinances of Georgetown, an abandoned boat is “any nuisance watercraft that has been anchored, moored, stranded, wrecked, sinking or sunk,” is no longer functioning, does not serve its primary purpose, or has been left unattended for 45 days. Legally moored boats and moored boats on private property do not qualify as abandoned.

In Chapter 20, Section 143 it states anchoring within 140 feet of a city mooring buoy is illegal and “no vessel shall be anchored within the Corps of Engineers established channel.”

Chief of Police Paul Gardner clarified the city’s “maritime field” exists approximately from the boat landing to the Kaminski House.

The enforcement began with moving all of the boats moored on Goat Island, he said.

An initial survey of abandoned boats was conducted in the harbor in mid-April. GPD used equipment from the planning and building department to accurately record the GPS coordinates of boats in the harbor.

Forty-five days later, a second survey of the harbor was conducted. The surveys determined there are 14 abandoned boats.

GPD placed orange placards on the abandoned boats on June 30 informing the owners of a notice to seize, with a 60-day deadline to comply.

“We want the owners of the boats in violation of the ordinance to come forward and either remove their boat from the harbor or insure that it is legally moored with an appropriate anchor light.

“We are simply looking for compliance with the ordinance. If not, the city has the funding in this year’s budget for the removal of any boats that fail to comply,” Gardner said.

The chief said enforcement of the law will help encourage tourists visiting Georgetown.

“We went down this course to increase the numbers of casual boaters, increase money in our restaurants, money in our stores. With that (abandoned boats) out there in the harbor, those boats aren’t coming.”

He said the police department will seize the boats in place, and after they’re forfeited, the city will sell the boats using a government auction website.

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