FALMOUTH — People who own 50 feet of shoreline now have a right to moor boats off their property.

On Jan. 24 the Town Council approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance that reduces the requirement for riparian rights, also known as mooring rights, from 100 feet of shoreline to 50 feet.

The change makes official something accommodated by harbormasters in town for years.

“Traditionally, other harbormasters and myself have issued moorings to homeowners who had less than (100 feet),” Harbormaster Alan Twombley said.

Twombley said the additional moorings do not affect the traffic or use of the town landing, so harbormasters have granted the moorings even though they do not comply with the ordinance.

The town has record of 19 homeowners with less than 100 feet of access who have been issued moorings. The zoning change brings all those moorings into compliance.

Now those who have dwellings on their property and at least 50 feet of shoreline can apply for a mooring. However, Twombley explained, sometimes the mooring is not directly in front of the property. He said he chooses the location for moorings based on how safe and congested the area is.

“They’re entitled to a mooring provided there’s a safe place for it,” he said. “I’m not required by ordinance to give them a mooring in front of their house.”

Twombley said he makes every effort to get moorings as close to the property as possible, but that sometimes due to ocean topography or other moorings, boats have to be moored further away.

In addition to approving the reduced footage requirement, the council also approved 20 more moorings for Handy Boat, which Twombley said the company would use to increase the number of rentals available to customers. Handy Boat currently has 40 moorings, some of which are in use by the marina’s service boats.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or [email protected]

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