In a time when the GPS wasn’t as accurate as it is today and sightings could be less than precise, four Warwick Cove property owners were granted state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) approval to build docks.
The docks were built and their owners are using them.
But in the last decade errors in the calculations have come to light and, as it turns out, the docks encroach on a federal anchorage area.
That’s a no-no.
While moorings are permitted within the anchorage area, docks aren’t. And as long as there are infringements on the federal area, the city can’t gain approval of its harbor management plan, and without an approved plan, neither Warwick Cove channel or the anchorage are eligible for dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers.
On Monday, by a vote of 9-0, the City Council voted to make that sliver of federal anchorage a part of city waters, thereby opening the way to an approved harbor management plan.
“Really, we’re cleaning up the harbor management plan that has been around for about 10 years,” City Planner William DePasquale said Tuesday. He called the action a “step for economic development.”
The alternative to reclassifying the strip of cove, which is no wider than 25 feet and extends on the east side of the cove immediately north of Harborlight Marina for about 700 feet, was to have the dock owners relocate their docks. That hardly seemed fair, said DePasquale, because they had gained the proper approvals to build them there.
“Because of a lack of technology they went out too far,” Robert Russell, chair of the harbor commission, told the council intergovernmental commission. Kevin Cute of the Coastal Resources Management Council said the lines were redrawn “to remove as little as possible” from the federal anchorage.
Nonetheless, resident Michelle Komar questioned the advisability of the action. She observed that once outside the federal anchorage and channel, dredging costs would be left up to the city. She recommended that the dock owners be made aware of this and accept the responsibility of dredging.
DePasquale said the next step is for the harbor commission working with stakeholders to update a plan that would be brought to the City Council for passage in January or February of next year. A public hearing would be conducted at that time.
He could not say when and if the Army Corps of Engineers had plans to dredge the cove channel. Warwick Cove has more boat slips than any other in the city and is one of the busiest pleasure boating coves in the state. It was last dredged in 1966, said DePasquale.