Abandoned-boat bill awaits vote in North Carolina

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A bill approved by the North Carolina House of Representatives that is now before the state Senate would give two counties the jurisdiction to remove boats from the Intracoastal Waterway that have been abandoned for more than 30 days.

Dare County Manager Bobby Outen said Brunswick County made the special request to legislators after having trouble with abandoned boats in its harbors for decades, the Wilmington, N.C.-based Star News reported.

Outen told the Star News that boats blocked entire canal openings during hurricanes Irene and Sandy.

“It is a hazard and it is dangerous,” Outen said. “It makes those areas and canals unusable, and they are taking up space that people would like to use.”

“We went to the U.S. Coast Guard, the state, but we had no mechanism to get them out of our harbor,” Outen said. “This will give us some authority, like when we move junk cars, we can move abandoned boats. That was the impetus.”

The bill grants Brunswick and Dare counties the ability to prohibit the abandonment of vessels in navigable waterways and ensures the proper storage of a ship. It describes abandonment as a vessel moored, anchored or otherwise located for more than 30 consecutive days in any 180 consecutive-day period without permission of the dock owner. Vessels that have sunk can be removed, the bill says.

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