Ship Bottom proposes ordinance to charge fee for launching non-motorized watercraft

    (Photo: Free4Lance2 via Flickr)

    (Photo: Free4Lance2 via Flickr)

    If you’re planning on launching a non-motorized watercraft in Long Beach Island’s Ship Bottom in the future, it might cost you, and that possibility is angering many residents and visitors.

    The borough’s governing body will consider an ordinance that would require paying a fee to launch non-motorized watercraft at its May 24 meeting. 

    Ordinance 2016-12 would make it unlawful to launch non-motorized watercraft from Waterfront Park — along the bayfront between 9th Street to the 12th Street lagoon — without paying five dollars for each watercraft, according to the proposed legislation. 

    The fee is for kayaks, canoes, and water boards/paddle boards.

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    The ordinance would amend the “paid beaches” section of the municipal code to include the fee and requirements. 

    According to Borough Clerk Kathleen Wells, the ordinance was introduced at the last meeting and is now in the process of advancing toward a public hearing. 

    At the May 24 meeting, Wells said the governing body has the following options: vote to adopt or deny, table it, or amend the legislation’s contents, which would require another public hearing. 

    The clerk, who said the process is in motion and no action can occur until an open public hearing at the meeting later this month, referred a request for comment on the ordinance’s intent to Council President Edward English and Borough Administrator Brian Geoghegan. 

    Both officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

    A petition against the ordinance began circulating on May 1, calling for 2,000 signatures. As of today, 373 people have signed. 

    “Come on already!” wrote Marianne Daria of Moorestown, who added that the proposal “takes the joy out of the beauty of living on an island. And already paying lots to own a home there.”

    Kathleen Devitt of Hammonton said the ordinance isn’t just. 

    “This is overreaching and unfair,” she wrote. “This will cause angry tourist backlash.”

    Suzanne O’Connor of Barnegat wrote that “[f]reedom to enjoy these activities and in our waterways should not have a fee attached.”

    But Lance Farina of Barnegat has a different opinion.

    “I support this,” he wrote. 

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