Proposed Hempstead Harbor regulations angers boaters


At a Glen Cove City Council meeting on April 24, many boaters said they felt anchored by red tape during a public hearing focusing on a proposal to require mooring permits in Hempstead Harbor.
A mooring is a permanent or semi-permanent anchor to which boaters can secure a vessel. Although boaters who use the harbor register their boats with the Department of Motor Vehicles, an amendment to a 35-year-old provision in the city code would require those who moor their vessels in city waters to apply for a permit, and provide their name, contact information and boat details.
This would give the harbormaster, John Testa, a record of who is using the harbor and how to contact them, and enhance his authority to enforce compliance with city regulations by issuing notices for violations, which can carry fines of up to $5,000, and citations to appear in city court.
There is currently no suggested fee for such a permit.
“This is not to punish or be punitive in any way to anybody,” Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck said at the meeting. “This is so our harbormaster has information as to who is in our waters.”

Peter Budraitis Jr., manager of the Hempstead Harbor Yacht Club, was one of 15 people who voiced concerns about the proposed mooring regulations. He highlighted the proposed prohibition of commercial vessels in the mooring area could disrupt member access to boats via launchers, a boat that helps members access their boats on moorings.
As a mooring contractor, Budraitis emphasized the necessity of storing mooring equipment in the harbor, and he asked how moorings would be deployed if this practice were disallowed. He also noted the complexity of organizing the mooring field, considering factors such as boat type, depth, and seabed composition. And he expressed concerns about a proposed requirement to remove non-approved moorings within 30 days, citing potential negative effects on mooring longevity and the logistical challenges of boat storage. He explained that a mooring’s removal could potentially worsen its condition due to oxidation when it is exposed to air, thereby shortening its lifespan.
“The language in this code calls that any non-approved mooring needs to be removed within 30 days.” Budraitis said. “The thought that there is expertise that is going to go on into planning this — or to operating this — is a little unsettling.”
Chris Lucas, of Glen Head, a member and former commodore of the Hempstead Harbor Yacht Club, said that the topic of moorings and the mooring field has come up on a number of occasions. The club, he said, has demonstrated responsible stewardship and management of its mooring field since 1891. Currently, that includes maintaining a detailed grid with GPS coordinates of each boat in the fleet, daily visual inspections and visual checks before and after significant weather events. Lucas said he believed the proposed amendments to the city code seemed to be a government overreach.
“With all due respect for the policies being put forth, they show a lack of knowledge and understanding of this topic,” Lucas said. “Some of what’s being proposed, such as a desire to move moorings at will, without the permission or authorization of the owner, risks potentially jeopardizing the safety of vessels in our harbor.”
At one point during the hour-and-a-half-long public hearing, Panzenbeck suggested moving forward with the council meeting, and said she would schedule a separate meeting with the commodores of the harbor club and the Sea Cliff Yacht club. Councilwoman Marsha Silverman said that the public hearing should proceed, since Panzenbeck had suggested it. Silverman went on to say she advocated a separate meeting with the commodores from each club before the public hearing.
At one point, Debbie Godsman, a member with the Harbor Club, tried to address Testa directly, but Panzenbeck interjected, saying that she and the commodores, along with Testa, would meet instead to discuss the proposed changes.
Panzenbeck met with the commodores of the Harbor Club and the Sea Cliff Yacht club on April 29, and said she was optimistic about the meeting, saying they came to an agreement on how to handle the city’s concerns. She also emphasized that the city is not looking to charge any fees for moorings.
“We came to a great meeting of the minds today,” Panzenbeck said. “When there’s an incident in the middle of the night, my Harbor Patrol guy shouldn’t have to start calling everybody to find out who the boat belongs to, and they agree with that. He shouldn’t have to call the commodores or the fleet manager as well. All he wants to know is whose boat is on that specific mooring.”