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New commission regulations stir arguments

The Lake Norman Marine Commission caused some wake Monday night over its decision regarding boating all across the lake.
The new rules state that one to two boats tied together can be within 50-100 yards of the shore. Groups of 3-10 boats must be 100-300 yards away from the shore and 200 yards away from other rafts. Groups larger than 10 boats must be 300 yards way from the shore. The new regulations take effect August 1st.
The decision was in response to the constant complaints from residents of small coves like Cocktail Cove. Every weekend, hundreds of boats would have raft-ups in the small cove.
Under the hot sun, some of the rafters, consuming large amounts of alcohol, would partake in activities such as public nudity, public urination, and trespassing. Loud, offensive music would blare from the boats. The residents of Cocktail Cove could see and hear this from their houses.
Linda Uphoff, a resident, described a recent incident where a man came onto her property, waved her over, and dropped his pants. Her young children witnessed this act.
The Peninsula Yacht Club raised concerns about the new rules at the meeting. They asked that the rules be only effective on holidays and Friday through Saturday, when the offensive rafting usually occurs.
The PYC said that moving rafting farther out endangers rafters. The wake and waves are worse there. The water becomes deeper, making it more difficult to anchor. It is also hard to see boats at night. In more open waters, the PYC said the rafters could get hit by other boats.
Instead of the regulations on rafting, the PYC called for tougher police work. Currently, the police can do nothing unless an officer witnesses the act. The PYC asked that the Marine Commission hire special police to control the activity on the lake.
“We barely have enough money to the keep the lights lit on the lake,” said Councilman Randy Reece. Reece told the assembly that only the County Commissioners could do anything about the police.
The PYC also asked how the rules would be enforced. Since there now must be 200 feet between rafts, law enforcement would have to take boaters’ word on who was in the space first.
What most angered boaters at the meeting was that the public input Monday night was not taken into consideration. The regulations had been written earlier that day. The changes were made in handwriting.
The Marine Commission said that a sub committee consisting of both boaters and homeowners had input on the regulations.
As the Commission passed the regulations, the PYC left calling the decision a “collective punishment,” punishing all rafters for the actions of a few. They said that “rafting is an assembly, therefore protected speech.”
Uphoff countered that, saying: “You cannot take a right and use it to harm someone. You boaters can go other places. This is my home. I have nowhere else to go.”
by Caleb Hawkins

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