Complaints Over Boat Dwellers Arise in North Haven

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North Haven Village sign
Village of North Haven sign. Kathryn G. Menu photo

A discussion about whether or not to amend the North Haven Village Code to allow boaters to spend up to three days living on a boat in the village’s two mooring fields prompted two residents to complain to the Village Board on Tuesday that someone is doing just that already and causing them headaches.

Currently the code bars anyone from living “aboard a vessel or on any other floating structure over the water or in any waterway.”

Also on Tuesday, the board set a public hearing for its next meeting at 5 p.m. on September 11 on a proposed pyramid law that has been in the works for months to limit the height of buildings according to lot size. The board also granted an application to construct a catwalk for launching a kayak at 8 South Harbor Drive.

Mayor Jeff Sander raised the issue of overnight stays on boats by noting it is currently not permitted even though the Village of Sag Harbor has no restrictions on overnight stays. He asked board members to consider the idea.

“I have mixed feelings. My inclination is to allow it and see if it becomes a problem,” Mr. Sander said. Trustee E. Dianne Skilbred said she agreed. Trustee James Laspesa said he wanted to think about the issue for a while.

Someone is already living on their boat in the east mooring field north of the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, prompting complaints from a nearby waterfront couple, Village Clerk Eileen Tuohy told the board. The Village Code calls for a fine of $250, which Ms. Tuohy said she interpreted to mean a one-time charge “but the person complaining interprets it to mean each day,” she said.

The mayor advised Ms. Tuohy to refrain from enforcing the code until the board decides whether to amend it to allow overnight stays.

Residents Mary and David Whelan, the residents who had complained about the boat dweller, sat down in the audience after the board had moved on to resident Barbara Freedman’s complaint that there are too many moorings in front of her Mashomack Drive property in North Haven Manor. It is for sale and people “are interested. Then they look out and see three boats moored and three empty moorings,” she said, so close to shore “you can walk out and touch them.”

After a discussion about the village’s two designated mooring fields and who can moor their boats elsewhere, Mr. Sander said the village would investigate the situation, including the North Haven Manor Association’s mooring policy.

Ms. Whelan joined in that discussion briefly, then moved on to the problem of “a houseboat moored off our property” for the past five years, with the owner running a diving business from a second boat, a Boston Whaler, and “interfering with our living.”

“This is basically a houseboat bought cheap from the yacht yard,” Mr. Whelan said, “that sits there all year.” He said he drops his dog off on the breakwater to do its business.

Mayor Sander thanked the Whelans for coming and said disturbances were “something we could address.”

Also on Tuesday, the board briefly considered the mayor’s suggestion that the village use a sign that shows passing vehicle speeds or perhaps install speed bumps on Tyndal and Sunset Beach Roads, where there have been complaints about fast-moving traffic.

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Peter Boody is news editor of The Sag Harbor Express. Previously he was the editor of the Southampton Press for many years and also edited several other papers, including the Shelter Island Reporter and the East Hampton Press, of which he was founding editor. He was a regular correspondent for the New York Times Long Island section and wrote the novel “Thomas Jefferson, Rachel & Me.”