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Marine panel seeks uniform rafting rules

MOORESVILLE — A public hearing on a new proposed rafting ordinance will be held at Monday’s Marine Commission meeting in Mooresville.
The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Mooresville Municipal Building, 413 North Main St.
The marine commission defines rafting as the anchoring, mooring, tying or joining of any combination of four or more vessels together.
The current ordinance allows rafting to occur at least 50 yards from the main inhabited shoreline or permanent structures.
However, there was a problem with all the commotion going on at a location in Mecklenburg County known as the Sandbar, where boaters raft up and party. The partying has now continued to a new party place known as Cocktail Cove, located near the Point off Brawley School Road in Iredell County.
The Marine Commission sought to address that problem by banning rafting unless it is conducted at least 300 yards from the main shoreline.
This regulation took place May 1, 2000.
But now the marine commission is seeing the problems with having an exception for a rafting ordinance.
“We can’t have exceptions,” said Terry Davis, marine commissioner for Mecklenburg County. “People have said it is discriminatory.”
The problem started when boaters began to come to Cocktail Cove by the hundreds. There have been many complaints from homeowners who have commented on the drinking, streaking and obscene language. There was also a problem with the amount of distance of the boats to the shoreline.
“The problem really began the middle of last year,” Davis said. “In the spring is when it really exploded and we got a lot of letters from homeowners.”
Davis, who sits on the safety and preservation board for the marine commission, has been working on this ordinance with a rafting subcommittee.
The board has been meeting in order to draft a new rafting ordinance.
Davis said the board plans on having something drafted up for the July 12 meeting.
“What passes has to be the same for the whole lake and that is so hard,” he said.
Davis said no one will be satisfied.
“The homeowners will think that the boaters won’t be far enough away; the boaters will want to be further in,” Davis said.
Once the proposed ordinance is brought to the meeting, Davis said he does not know if it will be voted on that night.
“It will depend on how many people show up and give feedback,” he said.
Some of the other issues that the rafting subcommittee have looked at includes the possibility of zoning the lake.
That way certain areas would allow for activities such as rafting.
Davis said this is only something that they are exploring.
A ton of calls and emails from concerned citizens have been received by the marine commission since the issue began.
“I have had just as many emails from homeowners as I have boaters,” he said.
A large turnout is expected at the public hearing.
Aug. 1 is the target date for the new ordinance to go into effect.
If changes need to be made to the proposed ordinance, Davis said it could take longer than that.
“It will be effective by the end of August for sure,” he said. “And hopefully it will work.”by Amy Wadsworth

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