Florida court strikes down anchoring ordinance

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A recent court decision in Collier County, Fla., that found a Marco Island recreational boat anchoring ordinance in violation of state law could help lead to a statewide solution to Florida’s “patchwork” of local anchoring laws, the Boat Owners Association of The United States reported in a release yesterday.

Collier County Judge Rob Crown ruled on Oct. 26 that the Marco Island ordinance – which restricted recreational boaters to a maximum 12-hour anchoring period when located within 300 feet of a seawall, and maximum six-day anchoring period anywhere beyond that distance – was “an unlawful regulation of publicly owned sovereign waterways in violation of Florida law.”

BoatU.S. member Dave Dumas, a resident of Marco Island, Fla., intentionally broke the law in January of this year in order to get the case to court because he and other local boaters from the Sailing Association of Marco Island thought it was overly restrictive, BoatU.S. said.

Another BoatU.S. member, Donald Day, Esq., of the Naples, Fla., law firm Barry, Day, McFee & Martin, handled the case pro bono.

“As a result of Judge Crown’s decision and current state statutes, many local governments around the state have advised me that they will not be enforcing their anchoring ordinances and will look to the state for guidance in the form of a uniform anchoring regulation,” Day said. “A lot of credit goes to BoatU.S. members who contacted their local governments to voice their displeasure with these inconsistent, arbitrary and restrictive ordinances.”

BoatU.S. Vice President of Government Affairs, Margaret Podlich, said, “Across Florida other local governments have enacted similar ordinances, that unfairly give local interests control over public waterways. We hope this court decision contributes to a statewide solution that is fair to all Florida citizens.”

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