SNOW HILL – A bowfishing business will be able to continue launching boats from a county ramp while officials debate new regulations.
The Worcester County Commissioners this week voted 6-0 to approve a request for a special use permit from Marc Spagnola for his bowfishing business. The permit means Spagnola can continue to launch his boat from the South Point boat ramp.
“Mr. Spagnola is very happy that the commissioners granted his request for a special use permit to continue using the South Point boat ramp to support his charter fishing business,” said Mark Cropper, Spagnola’s attorney. “He expects the commissioners to require all other businesses that are utilizing the county-owned boat ramps for their commercial purposes to also invest the time, energy and money to acquire a similar special use permit in order for them to continue to legally use the county-owned ramps.”
In July, the commissioners considered new boat ramp regulations that would allow limited commercial activity at county ramps. In response to concerns about the changes, they agreed to research the issue further before updating the county’s regulations. As a result, Cropper submitted a request for a special use permit for Spagnola, who has been launching his boats at the South Point ramp. Spagnola has asked for and received a permit each of the past few years.
“As before, my client will agree to never have more than one vessel at any county owned boat ramp at one time,” Cropper wrote in the letter requesting the permit. “Should the Commissioners pass legislation that makes this special use permit moot, it will be withdrawn. However, my client should not be under threat of citation for using county owned boat ramps for his commercial purposes when others are being allowed by the county to do the same, but without such a threat.”
Commissioner Caryn Abbott on Tuesday made a motion to grant Spagnola a license until the commissioners approved updated boat ramp regulations. The commissioners voted 6-0, with Commissioner Eric Fiori recusing himself, to approve the motion. Fiori, who owns a boat dealership, said he was not voting to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest.
Cropper said after the meeting that while his client was pleased to have a permit, he didn’t understand why other businesses that used the county ramps—such as crabbers, marine contractors and fishing guide services—didn’t need to apply for permits.
“My client remains perplexed at why he is being required to get a special use permit but no others are,” he said. “For that reason he believes he is being treated differently and unfairly. All he’s ever wanted is for the laws of the county to be equally applied and enforced against everybody.”