MELBOURNE, Fla. — It’s an ongoing issue in Brevard County that locals say is only getting worse: Derelict and abandoned boats, or even people living on boats, feet away from other people’s backyards.
- City of Melbourne hoping to address derelict boats in waters
- State law trumps what cities can do on local level about issue
- READ IT: Melbourne Special Workshop Meeting Documents
A special workshop in Melbourne is aiming to start putting a plan of action together to help resolve the issue.
In a memorandum from city of Melbourne attorneys to the mayor and city council, officials are hoping to address two main issues based on residents' complaints: illegal dumping of raw sewage from vessels moored, and rules on anchoring.
As it stands, current Florida law prohibits local governments from adopting or enforcing anchoring limitations for any vessels outside of mooring, ultimately trumping what cities can do.
Melbourne wants the rules and definitions more black and white.
City attorneys want to allow local governments to enact and enforce regulations, especially when it comes to establishing pump-out regulations, because right now, they say their hands are tied.
A possible solution is to designate the area as a "no discharge zone" in accordance with federal law. The application for the designation will require state officials to determine that the protection and enhancement of the quality of the waters in Melbourne and Brevard County require greater environmental protection.
Another issue is with vessels anchored or moored for extended periods in view of waterfront property; it’s hard to determine which ones are abandoned and at risk of sinking.
Longtime boater and former boating instructor Joe LaBella explained that holding boaters responsible is a whole other issue, too, because not everybody registers their boat or has an up-to-date registration.
“Just like an abandoned car, you find it without tags or registration, and you don't know who to go after to take care of the problem,” LaBella said.
The special workshop will be at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Melbourne City Hall. The city of Melbourne also has detailed documents about it online.