Bourne Voters Asked To Nix Bylaws Governing Waterways Use
By: Diana T. Barth
If a change recommended by Bourne’s Bylaw Committee is approved by voters at the October 29 Special Town Meeting, modifying the rules and regulations governing all of the use of waterways will be in the hands of the harbormaster, subject to the approval of Bourne selectmen.
Article 10 on the Town Meeting warrant asks that section 3.6 of Bourne’s general bylaws, entitled “Use of Waterways,” be deleted in its entirety.
That section of the bylaws covers three issues: designated waterskiing areas, enforcement and penalties, and a definitions section that classifies Little Bay as a “permanent mooring reduction area.” The latter section mandates that mooring permits only be issued, or re-issued, to current mooring holders, thus reducing the number of moorings in the area by attrition, as those permit holders die or move away.
While passage of Article 10 would remove those provisions from the books, Assistant DNR Director Michael J. Gratis explained that the DNR, itself, helped promulgate those bylaws. However, he said, over a period of time, most of the rules governing the waterways were codified in either state law or Bourne’s waterway regulations. Only a few remnants of waterways rules remained in the bylaws. He said that voters are not being asked to weigh-in on the issue of moorings, so much as they are to determine in what body of law the regulations are located. That, in turn, will affect how the provisions can be modified in the future.
Now, for example, if one wanted to change a designated waterskiing area or add a mooring to Little Bay, the matter would have to wait until the next Town Meeting before any action could be taken.
If Article 10 is passed, and the bylaw section eliminated, the DNR director could bring recommendations for changes in the regulations before selectmen, where the change could be debated and voted on as quickly as necessary.
That, Mr. Gratis said, would allow the department the flexibility to respond to changing shoreline conditions or other issues in a timely fashion.
Further, it would allow for debate somewhere other than Town Meeting floor, in a forum where both the affected citizens and officials could take the time to thoroughly discuss and understand the implications of any proposed changes, Mr. Gratis said.
After Town Meeting convenes on October 29, when any of the articles calling for a bylaw change affecting the use of waterways is selected (Articles 11 and 12) by lottery, Article 10 will be taken up first. If Article 10 passes, then those other articles will be moot. Those changes can then be taken up by the harbormaster and selectmen at a later date.
If Article 10 fails, then voters will be asked to consider Articles 11 and 12.
Article 11 asks that Bourne’s bylaw be amended to remove an area of Little Bay, Monument Beach, from the list of town-approved areas for waterskiing. Mr. Gratis said that once all the rules about keeping away from the shore, swimmers, and other boats are applied, there is virtually no safe, legal space to waterski in that bay.
Article 12 asks voters to amend the Use of Waterways bylaw to change the current $25 fine for a first violation, and a $50 penalty for any second violation, to a $100 fine “for each violation,” no matter the number.
A fourth bylaw Article, Article 9, deals primarily with Section 3.7.6 of Bourne’s bylaws, entitled “Water Resource District Enforcement.” That section would not be affected by the passage of Article 10.
In proposing Article 9, the bylaw committee recommends removing the word “members,” from that section, since the word, as it currently appears, implies that the members of the Bourne Conservation Commission can enforce bylaw provisions unilaterally, as individuals, something that was not the intent of that section.
Approval of Article 9 would also change the fine for violating the bylaw from “not less than $50 nor more than $300 for each offense” to “$300 for each offense.”
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