Wareham Planning Board waits on seeking rule changes for unregistered boats

Sep 24, 2018

Planning officials are reviewing bylaws designed to clean up unkempt properties after facing several questions during a public hearing.

On Monday, Planning Board members discussed proposed rule changes they originally planned to place before voters at October’s Town Meeting. After hearing from residents, members voted to bring the changes forward at Spring Town Meeting after rewriting the rules.

The changes, if approved, would have allowed officials to fine property owners who have ungaraged heavy equipment and unregistered boats and trailers in yards.

Although local zoning bylaws prohibit parking more than one unregistered motor vehicle on a residential parcel, boats are not currently included. Officials noted that businesses selling boats would be allowed to park more than one in a lot with permission from the Board of Selectmen.

Director of Planning & Community Development Ken Buckland said the bylaw change would allow residents to be fined for having more than one unregistered boat visible. The bylaw would also prohibit all unregistered boats from being parked in a front yard.

“In a coastal town, we would expect people to store boats in the off season,” said Buckland. “But if they start a collection we will have the authorization to issue fines.”

Owners would be fined $20 per day per boat for a violation, which is the same fine for unregistered motor vehicles.

Resident David Heard asked if kayaks, canoes and small sailboats would be subject to the change. Chair George Barrett said that issue had been discussed and language would be added exempting small vessels from the bylaw. He added the changes were proposed by building department officials seeking enforcement options for problem properties.

Planning Board members said another bylaw change would have required heavy construction equipment and similar items be hidden from public view.

Town engineer Charlies Rowley noted the bylaw as written may adversely affect businesses that sell equipment and construction materials.

Heard agreed, saying the bylaw was unclear.

“If you have a 10-foot truck, do you need a 10-foot fence?” asked Heard. “I don’t want the town to get involved in lawsuits because we hadn’t thought these things through.”

Heard also asked that the town’s attorney review the language of the bylaw.

“Most of these are to aid the building commissioner in responding to a complaint,” said Barrett. “But your point is well taken.”