• 50°

City eyes building

By Staff
two more T docks
Grant funds to help pay
for local development
By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
Washington has about $100,000 in cash and in-kind services to pair with a $200,000 Boating Infrastructure Grant to build additional docks along the city’s waterfront.
The docks would serve transient boaters.
On Monday, Phil Mobley, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, told the City Council the number of new docks and boat slips for those docks will depend on what the Coastal Resources Commission determines is acceptable and what it costs to build those docks.
Plans call for converting the existing H and J docks that parallel the Stewart Parkway promenade into T docks to accommodate larger boats, Mobley said. The city is skipping adjacent docks for a reason.
The city is in the process of hiring an engineering firm to produce the engineering documents the project requires. The city is talking with Bill Foreman in Morehead City, the engineer who provided similar services when the city built its existing docks several years ago.
Once the engineering for the project is completed and construction costs considered, the city may determine it has enough money to build three or more docks instead of two docks.
Under terms of the grant, the project must be completed by June 2009, Mobley said.
BIG is a program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that reimburses up to 75 percent of the cost of projects that provide docking and other facilities for recreational transient vessels that are at least 26 feet long. The state’s Division of Marine Fisheries is the liaison with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for BIG projects in North Carolina.
The city’s $200,000 grant is part of the $9.5 million in federal grant money awarded to projects in nine states.
In a related matter, the city may have to amend its ordinances so it can establish mooring fields in the Pamlico River off its waterfront.
During its meeting Monday, Mayor Pro Tempore Doug Mercer told the council he believes mooring fields in the river are prohibited because the city’s ordinances don’t include them as permitted uses. The way the city has its ordinances set up, if they do not specifically allow a land use or activity in a zoning district, then it’s prohibited in that district.
The city is pursuing a permit to set up a mooring field that would be located off the city’s waterfront between the U.S. Highway 17 bridge and the railroad trestle and south of the channel that bisects the river. While it pursues that permit, a working draft of a proposed harbor management and water use plan is making its way through the Planning Board and to the council for review and action. The draft plan is a collaborative effort involving the Planning Board and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront.
Because it has no authority to regulate the use of its harbor waters, the city has no power to require boat owners to properly moor their vessels, enforce sewage-disposal rules governing vessels in the harbor or require the orderly removal of boats from the harbor during emergency situations such as hurricanes.
To acquire that authority, the city may ask state Rep. Arthur Williams to submit a bill to the General Assembly that, if approved, would give the city the authority to enforce its harbor management and water use plan.