Controversial Ram’s Head mooring issue settled: Unanimous vote to transfer rights
It took five months and a series of public hearings, but finally, eight moorings held by former owners of the Ram’s Head Inn, James and Linda Eklund, were transferred to new owner Aandrea Carter.
The Town Board voted unanimously for the transfer following contentious comments from some members of the public who attended the virtual Friday evening session via Zoom.
Before and after the unanimous vote, there were statements from Supervisor Gerry Siller and members of the Board that in the future the process of mooring transfers will be reevaluated.
Mr. Siller said that recently large businesses have purchased properties and Shelter Island is not “a mom and pop” business environment any longer. “We need to walk slowly” and look hard “into commercial mooring fields,” and consider “commercial mooring as a whole,” the supervisor said.
Many of the same arguments surfaced before the vote that have been heard since August, including what constitutes “residency” in order to have mooring rights, and concerns would be an influx of so-called “super yachts” crowding into Coecles Harbor and tying up at the Ram’s Head Inn.
On residency, the Board and the town attorney said business owners are considered residents, and that Ms. Carter has established a personal residence on the Island.
With the new ownership of the Ram’s Head, resident Tom Roush said the moorings and expansion of services at the Inn will change the neighborhood from one of quiet and peace into a noisy, crowded place. It will ruin the pleasure and enjoyment of his neighborhood, creating “Sunset Beach on the Rams.”
The Board’s action in transferring the mooring rights was “obscene,” Mr. Roush said, a word he used multiple times.
Resident Kim Bonstrom, who has been vocal since August at public hearings against the transfer of moorings, and who several times on Friday angrily accused Mr. Siller of misrepresenting facts, was concerned about “large motor yachts rafted at moorings,” meaning multiple boats tied together at one mooring. But a reading of the Town Code prohibits that. Nevertheless, Mr. Bonstrom said rafting of boats happens, and the regulation has never been enforced.
Before the vote, Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams asked her colleagues if they were comfortable voting on the Ram’s Head Inn application, and each member said they would vote, but wanted a commitment that Mr. Siller’s words about looking into future transfer of mooring rights would hold.