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City approves mooring and anchorage

pilot program ordinance

Enforcement begins for program

When the Florida Legislature wanted to research the needs of municipalities in regarding to regulations for anchoring and mooring, it turned to it turned to those who know the most about our state’s waterways, the Fish and Wildlife Commission. In turn, the FWC reached out to the state’s hundreds of waterfront municipalities and invited them to make application to be one of only five cities selected to participate in a pilot program to help determine the needs of communities with active harbors.

St. Augustine applied and was fortunate to be accepted. After working for several months developing the elements of a pilot program into an ordinance, city staff secured initial approval of the plan by the City Commission and then submitted it to the FWC for review. At its meeting in November, the FWC approve the city’s proposed ordinance with only one minor change, thus clearing the way for final consideration and enactment by the City Commission. That action came on Monday, December 12 when the Commission voted unanimously to adopt the pilot program.

Jim Piggott, Director of General Services, said that certified mail notification has been made to all boat owners who have vessels anchored outside the city mooring fields and that requests for clarification from some boaters has been received.  "That period for notification and education has passed and the city will begin active enforcement," Piggott said.

Now, for the next two and half years, through July 2014, the new ordinance will be in effect and will allow the FWC to gather the data it needs to make a report to the Legislature and make recommendation on elements of mooring field management tat should be adopted statewide.

In drafting the ordinance, city staff were guided by the goals established by the FWC, namely:

• Promote public access to the waters of the state,
• Enhance navigational safety,
• Protect maritime infrastructure,
• Protect the marine environment,
• Deter improperly stored or abandoned vessels, and
• Promote the establishment and use of public mooring fields.

In addition, the new ordinance does not affect recreational boating.

The specific elements of the new ordinance are:

1. No overnight anchoring or “stored” vessels shall be allowed within 500 feet of shellfish harvesting areas. The affected area will be in the south end of Salt Run.
Matching Goal: Protect the Marine Environment.

2. No storing (anchoring) of vessels within 50 feet of marine structures such as private & public docks, piers and pilings.
Matching Goal: Protect Marine Infrastructure

3. Boaters at anchor, in city waters, residing on their vessels (Occupied Vessel) outside of the permitted mooring fields must move to the mooring field after 30 consecutive days at anchor in a 45 day period. However, boaters may move out of the city limits for one day, stay on shore for one day or move to a mooring for one day, at which point the 30 consecutive days begins over again.
Matching Goal: Promote the use and establishment of public mooring fields.

4. All ‘stored” vessels at anchor within the city limits must get underway two times per year (February & August). Vessels are required to come to the Municipal Marina to verify the vessel can operate under its own power and have an owner or owner’s representative. At this time the owner/representative should ensure the anchor and ground tackle are in good serviceable condition. A Medallion will be placed on the vessel to identify it as in compliance with the ordinance.
Matching Goal: Deter improperly stored or abandoned vessels.

5. Anchoring within 100 feet of the mooring field boundaries is not permitted. Boundaries are identified by the yellow “alpha” markers surrounding each mooring field. Meets USCG set back requirement for mooring field from navigational channel.
Matching Goal: Protect marine infrastructure and enhance navigational safety.

6. Anchoring within 50 feet from the San Sebastian River channel is not permitted. This will result in a decrease in the number of incidents between vessels at anchor and larger private and commercial vessels utilizing waterway.
Matching Goal: Protect Marine Infrastructure and enhance navigational safety.

It is important to have a clear understanding of the ordinances definition of the terms occupied vessel and stored vessel.

“Occupied Vessel” means boarding and remaining on a vessel for recreational activities consuming twelve (12) hours or more consecutive hours in any twenty four (24) consecutive hour period of time: for the preparation, service and consumption of meals or for sleeping; for a period of time in excess of that required for the completion of maintenance or repair activities; or for securing or protecting the vessel in a time of emergency or severe weather.

“Stored Vessel” means any vessel not under the direct supervision and control of a person capable of operating the vessel and promptly moving the vessel from the locations designated in subsection (j) (2)(3)(4) and (5) of Ordinance NO. 2011-10.

To see the complete ordinance, click here.

To learn more about the FWC Pilot Program Statewide click here.

To see a map of the city’s waterways and learn more about the pilot program and the operations of the Municipal Marina, call 904.825.1026 or visit the marina’s web site here.

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