Anchoring Rights - Page 15 - SailNet Community
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post #141 of 158 Old 07-23-2007
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I don't know the particulars of how the rights to the bottom are assigned. I am sure that different harbors/jurisdictions have different stories.

But I do know that there are some odd things or what appear to be odd things out there. Why does say a yacht club which may not be especially large in terms of their land foot print have control of so much of the bottom? Do they buy or lease that bottom? What about other mooring services such as Oldport in Newport which have almost no land foot print... how do they get their moorings?

Whatever the system is, it is confusing and I am unaware of how it works... How to two or more towns on one body of water decide how to divvy up the bottom?

How about more towns and those with docks providing some courtesy dockage for short periods without charging $1 a foot for an hour of tie up as Greenport's new facility does?

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post #142 of 158 Old 07-23-2007
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Jef, the answer to ALL your questions is pretty much the same :

"According to state law."

Who owns which land is all according to state title laws and property deeds. A tiny yacht club may have bought bottom lands from a town, 75 years ago, or may have LEASED them under an open bidding process. Or, a mooring "manager" may have been appointed by the usual political processes.
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post #143 of 158 Old 07-23-2007
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Jef: to go a bit further on HS's answer: It's called the "Public Trust Doctrine". In simple terms, the state holds all lands below the mean high tide line in trust for all of the public. The state, in its infinite wisdom, deliberates and decides through your elected representatives what use of that bottom land will benefit the public. As you have observed, many coastal communities control the anchoring rights offshore of their jurisdictions. They do so because the state legislature has passed laws allowing them to do so, in effect authorizing the towns and cities to act on behalf of the state. Private control of a mooring field? It can happen any number of ways, but somewhere back in time, the state passed a law giving control of the bottom land to a party that then passed it on, and so forth. Navigable streams and rivers? Same deal, although many states still have some semblance of the old common law "riperian rights" still on the books. These laws generally give landowners adjacent to lakes and rivers access to the body of water as a matter of right. Practically speaking, most of these common law absolute rights have been overtaken by our "modern" system of permitting. You might "own" the lake bottom from your beach to the center of lake, but you can't do much with it. The state will probably let you build a dock/sink a mooring, but not before you jump through their hoops. Don't get me started on the dueling jurisdictions of the Army Corps of Engineers, USEPA and the various state agencies.
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post #144 of 158 Old 07-23-2007
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"It's called the "Public Trust Doctrine"."
Nice concept--but it doesn't apply uniformly to bottomlands that already have been sold, or are covered by pre-existing titles.

Of course the wonderful thing about the US is that it is, or at least was, intended to be a federal republic with 50 sovereign states in it. Don't like the local laws? Can't change 'em? MOVE. There's 49 other sets to explore and make home.

At least it would be, if it weren't for that damned Lincoln fellow and all the Federalists trying to steal powers.
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post #145 of 158 Old 07-23-2007
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But thanks to imminent domain, they can take away any bottom rights you may have for the "public good"

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It's not impossible, it just costs more.
Give me ambiguity, or give me something else.
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post #146 of 158 Old 07-23-2007
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"imminent domain"
That means someone is about to give you lots of land, or a throne.

EMINENT domain, means the king just took back what he once gave you. Good reason for a revolution, if you ask me.
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post #147 of 158 Old 07-24-2007
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"NO!" means to see "Next Officer"

Quote:
Originally Posted by xort View Post
nice idea in theory but,

I watched a guy in a sea ray jet boat ...
Xort,
(Sarcasim to follow) Oh well, I guess your right. We should all just pack it up and go home. (Sarcasim conluded)

I hear what you are saying, and I agree completely that the repsonse was appauling, but single incidents do not a trend make. Therefor a single failure in a respones to a situation doesn't mean the whole conept of self-policing is a failed one. If the Coasties were too tired to do their job, something tells me that the District Commander wouldn't be. Were they out on another call? or watching the big game on TV?

If in a similar postion, I might have sat down with a cup of coffee and tapped out and email or letter to the local District Commander (copy to: the local Coast Guard Station). No harm or no foul with that move.

There would be no need to automatically go to Congress or the press. I know that the Dist Cdr would be highly greatful for the opportuity to "look into" the situation himself before "he" got nailed from higher. Of course, airing it on "Sailnet.com" is a great move and maybe the NRA would like an oppotunity to frown on the acts of a "shot-bird" with a gun who is now giving hunters a bad name. The power of the written word is awesome! I bet you appreciate it, too. One can imagine that is why we're all in this forum.

I can't help but wonder about the image of a guy in a jet boat "hunting" and hitting a "window" ! Sounds more like mob hit if you ask me. Good thing you didn't return fire!
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post #148 of 158 Old 07-24-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"It's called the "Public Trust Doctrine"."
Nice concept--but it doesn't apply uniformly to bottomlands that already have been sold, or are covered by pre-existing titles.
Not to get too technical HS, but the Public Trust Doctrine does uniformly apply to all land below the mean high tide line. However, as you and others have pointed out, that does not mean that there can't be private control of those lands. The state simply decided at some point that it was in the public interest to grant control of the property to the town/private company/the Governor's friend/etc. Common examples are the state allowing a town to form a harbor commission and to control the local harbor mooring field; and the granting of leases for shellfish beds. I have never come across an example of an individual who holds title to land below the mean high tide line, although I will take your word for it if you have.

Other regulated uses are granted by the state via permits that allow the use of the bottom land, but grant no property rights (property rights are things like a lease, an easement or actual deeded title to property). An example of these are the rights to build and maintain marina docks in tidal waters (some states might also require marina owners to lease the right to use the land from the state). I would be willing to bet that if you look far back enough in any property right relating to tidal bottom lands, you will find a grant from the state legislature either directly conveying the property right or a law passed that allowed an agency of the state to do so.

Rights to use bottom lands that are non-tidal are more straightforward, and I agree with you that they can look more like the more traditional "land" property rights. I don't doubt that an individual can own the bottom land of a lake, especially if the lake is completely surrounded by private property. However, your ability to use that bottom land is now subject to a myriad of permitting restrictions that effectively take away your absolute right to access the water as you see fit. Its really no different than land zoning laws. You can't do whatever you want, and you have to meet certain requirements to do what the law allows.

Last edited by mstern; 07-24-2007 at 10:32 AM. Reason: bad spelling
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post #149 of 158 Old 07-24-2007
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I've been told that the "bulkhead line" which appears on nautical charts of Manhattan (NYC) delimits the point to which piers can be constructed--and also the point at which the private ownership of the BOTTOM as wel as the use of the water ends. Inside of the bulkhead line (to which most of the piers were built out to) you're on private land--even if it's water.

Or, the locals do a good job of pretending it is that way. < g >

Then again, Manhattan's south tip was extended so far by landfill into the water, that it practically doubled the width of the island. The WTC was only the last of many "fills".
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post #150 of 158 Old 07-24-2007
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Question Bottom land and crab pots

Does anyone have examples of how local laws (state of otherwise) affect where one can set crab pots? It would seem that if there are restrictions on setting an anchor in the mud that it would also apply to the horde of these crab pots I find myself dodging.

I thought that fisherman could just throw these anywhere except in a marked channel.
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