SNOW HILL – Worcester County officials continue to explore the creation of a commercial use permit for local boat landings.
The Worcester County Commissioners asked staff last week to continue adjusting a proposal to create a special use permit for the county’s boat landings. While commissioners said they wanted to have a policy in place, several expressed concerns that the proposal as presented was too restrictive.
“We’ve got to start somewhere and get these boat ramps under control,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said.
Kelly Rados, the county’s director of recreation and parks, told the commissioners last week the special use permit proposed would give commercial users a process to follow for using the boat ramps. The user would submit an application that would allow them to request up to five specific dates to use a boat ramp.
“They’d be allowed to submit only five applications per calendar year,” Rados said.
A $50 application fee would cover administrative costs associated with the permit program. Applications would be submitted to the recreation and parks department and would be brought before the commissioners for final approval.
Rados noted that any commercial use would have to meet Maryland Department of Natural Resources conditions. Those include not creating a conflict with the general boating public, not interfering with the needs of recreational boaters and not causing damage to the ramp and facility.
Commissioner Joe Mitrecic asked if boat dealers and boat repair shops would have to apply for permits. Rados said they would need to apply if the permit program was approved. She said the commissioners had previously told her they didn’t want to create an annual use permit.
“So boat dealers and repair shops are not supposed to be using our boat ramps in the county?” Mitrecic asked.
Rados said she didn’t believe so.
“That’s a commercial operation,” she said.
Commissioner Eric Fiori objected.
“I can say as a boat dealer I’d consider myself an expert on this situation, “he said. “The boat dealers going to boat ramps are doing a service for our residents They’re not doing it as a straight thing as far as profit goes.”
He said many vacation neighborhoods didn’t allow residents to keep boat trailers.
“These dealers are not parking at the boat ramps,” he said. “They’re in and out and they’re professionals.”
Fiori added that he felt the special use permit policy should incorporate a bond requirement for marine construction in case ramps or facilities were damaged. He also felt the policy should address guide and charter service.
“We can’t be filling up our parking spots,” he said. “It’s a very very different use and I think what we need to do is identify what is commercial use and what is not commercial use. Really we need to go back to the drawing board on this and really define some of those fine items.”
Commissioner Chip Bertino suggested staff make changes to the policy based on the discussion regarding boat dealers.
“I think that’s very stringent personally I think we need to evaluate that,” he said.
Bunting said he didn’t think the permit should be required for boat dealers or users such as crabbers.
“That’s not the person I have a problem with,” he said. “I don’t call that commercial use… a boat dealer taking a person for a test ride on a boat and unloading it.”
He agreed that the bond issue raised by Fiori should be explored as well.
“I’m very concerned about damage to our boat ramps,” he said. “I do think we need to look at a little bit closer.”
The commissioners voted 4-3, with Mitrecic, Commissioner Ted Elder and Commissioner Diana Purnell opposed, to have staff address the concerns shared and return to the commissioners with recommendations.