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Rafting concerns to be aired

CORNELIUS – The Lake Norman Marine Commission will hold a public hearing Monday night to hear concerns from residents on its current rafting ordinance.
The meeting will take place at the Cornelius town hall at 7 p.m. The ordinance may be revised after the hearing.
Revisions to the current rafting ordinance are being looked at as a result of complaints at the Sandbar, the cove near Marker D4, where many boaters “raft up” to party, drink and play loud music.
Handouts will be distributed at the meeting and potential changes will be highlighted.
“Law enforcement really wants a workable system because they are the ones who have to enforce it,” said Bob Elliott, executive director of the marine commission.
“Rafting up,” is defined as the anchoring, mooring, tying, fastening, linking or joining of any combination of six or more vessels together in close proximity with one another.
The current rafting ordinance summarizes the number of vessels that can raft together and, based on the number, how far from the shoreline or from other vessels the “rafted vessels” must be located.
Three to 10 vessels must be at least 100 yards from the shoreline and at least 200 yards from similar “rafted vessels.” Eleven or more vessels must be at least 300 yards from the shoreline. One to two vessels may be within 100 yards of the shoreline and at least 50 yards from any other vessel or group of vessels.
Special permits are allowed in other areas where it is otherwise prohibited to raft-up. A permit must be obtained and submitted to the marine commission 60 days before the event.
The last time the ordinance was updated was last August, Elliott said. A rafting ordinance was first passed several years ago and was put into effect due to the problems at the Sandbar.
Law enforcement has already started to crack down on “rafting up” this year.
Deputy Phil Jones with the Iredell County Sheriff’s office and other county officials have started handing out copies of the ordinances to boaters.
Elliott hopes having a public hearing will enable residents to speak up on any suggested changes.
“This will be a good way to get some input,” he said.
by Amy Wadsworth

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