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Controversy over Ram’s Head Inn moorings

Ram’s Head Inn owner Aandrea Carter might have expected a smooth transfer of eight moorings in Coecles Harbor from James and Linda Eklund who sold her the Ram’s Head. It was not to be.

Hearings on the moorings were recessed at the Aug. 20 Town Board meeting while Supervisor Gerry Siller promised a longer discussion on the issues at the Aug. 24 work session.

Ms. Carter found herself in a long-pending dispute over a dock neighbors maintain is on Town land and needs to be resolved before any transfer of the moorings. Ms. Carter characterized the transfer as part of her purchase of the property from the Eklunds, and said she is the sole member of the limited liability corporation that owns the Inn.

The moorings are vital, she added, to the business because one-third of those arriving for meals arrive by boat. Ms. Carter said she purchased a Coast Guard rated and approved vessel to bring people from their boats at moorings to the Inn. It’s not a water taxi, she said, but “a vital part of our business.”

Kim Bonstrom led the opposition to the transfer of the moorings to Ms. Carter, citing several reasons why he said the applications should be rejected:

• A decision shouldn’t be made on the eight moorings until the 13-year dispute over ownership of the dock is established because “the two issues are inextricably entwined.”

• A commercial mooring is supposed to be in a “B” business zone, while the Ram’s Head Inn is in a residential area.

• A mooring is limited to residents and Ms. Carter does not live on the Island.

• There has been an expansion of the use of the dock since Ms. Carter purchased the Ram’s Head Inn, including a water taxi Mr. Bonstrom maintained, not only picks up passengers from boats at moorings but conducts harbor cruises.

• A commercial mooring is limited to boatyards and marinas, not other types of businesses, although the Town Code referring to those businesses does not appear to limit granting them to other businesses. 

• There are issues of parking and noise at the Ram’s Head that aren’t being enforced.

Supervisor Gerry Siller countered, maintaining that a property owner of a business is considered a resident, and the Ram’s Head existed long before the B zone was established.

Councilman Jim Colligan, a liaison to the Waterways Management Advisory Council, said that group voted to approve the mooring transfers and didn’t see the moorings linked to the issue involving the dock.

Councilman Albert Dickson and Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams called for more discussion prior to a vote on the transfers.

Mr. Colligan believes issues surrounding ownership of the dock can be resolved with the principals sitting down and finding ways to compromise.

A lot of money could be spent on lawyers to try to resolve the issue, the councilman said, insisting that didn’t need to happen.