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Getting un-moored: WMAC hashes out waterfront property rights

JULIE LANE PHOTO Residents Brian Sweeny (left) and Corky Diefendorf want a change in the town’s policy on moorings, but their fight may have only just begun.
Residents Brian Sweeny (left) and Corky Diefendorf want a change in the town’s policy on moorings, but their fight may have only just begun.

Two Shelter Island residents called on the Waterways Management Advisory Council Monday night to request a change in town policy affecting moorings. But they’re unlikely to get any immediate satisfaction.

Brian Sweeny and Corky Diefendorf argued that the policy that gives a “Riparian mooring” to waterfront property owners shouldn’t be taken from them if they apply for a second mooring.

Waterfront property owners have a right (Riparian) to a mooring off the shores of their lots and don’t have to link the mooring to any particular boat.

But if the owner of such a mooring requests a second mooring and can demonstrate a need, he or she can get it, but automatically the right to the Riparian mooring disappears. The town could still allow two moorings, but both would have to be linked to specific boats.

That doesn’t suit the two men who argued that their right to Riparian moorings shouldn’t be revoked.

A Riparian mooring, since it’s not linked to a specific boat, could be used by a visitor to their homes without need to inform the Town Clerk of the temporary use, they argued.

Seven WMAC members batted the issue around for close to an hour, but by a consensus of four to three, appeared not to want to make any change to the town’s policy.

If there were a groundswell of support for a change, the WMAC might be open to asking the Town Board for a policy change, but with no evidence, most saw it as a non-issue.

It’s possible that the two men could bring their arguments directly to the Town Board.

The WMAC continued its work on identifying sites around town landings that could support stake and pulley moorings. Members have been inspecting landings to determine what’s currently there and how many moorings could be established.

At one point, someone suggested to Councilman Peter Reich, the Town Board’s liaison to the WMAC, that he stay on as a consultant to draft a full proposal. Mr. Reich is retiring from the Town Board at the end of the year, and will no longer be working with the council.

That realization struck member Marc Wein as a problem, pointing out that without Mr. Reich’s technical expertise, the WMAC could be “working blind” if steps aren’t taken to train someone to be able to provide visuals for proposed applications. There was kidding around the table about having Mr. Reich continue to attend meetings, but no specific action was taken.

In other actions, the WMAC approved by a 7-0 recommendations that the Town Board approve applications from:
• Norman Mooney of 22 Glynn Drive for a mooring in West Neck Bay
•Schoepfer/Norris of 38 Brander Parkway for a mooring in West Neck Creek
• John Woodward of 10 Tuthill Drive for a mooring in Coecles Harbor.

Mr. Woodward has had a mooring there that lapsed.