2017-11-16 / Front Page

Mooring Slip Fees Increased

By James Merolla

The Newport City Council unanimously approved an amendment to harbor ordinances on Nov. 8 that will increase the allotment of mooring slips from the current 3-to-1 resident to-nonresident ratio to 8-to-1, until mooring permits throughout Newport Harbor reach a 3-to-1 resident to nonresident ratio.

The change is required by Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) to bring the city’s Harbor Management Plan into compliance with state regulations.

Many Newport residents have been waiting for years to obtain a mooring slip, while paying for the privilege of being on the waiting list. Two boat owners vented their frustration at the council meeting.

Peggy Mulholland of 13 Sea View Ave., Newport, told the council that she bought a 19-foot boat in 2004 and placed her name on the waiting list soon after.

“I am still waiting,” she said. “I am a property owner, a taxpayer and I’m 43rd on the list. There is something wrong here. People who hold [slips], they never give them up. They are subletting them. Meanwhile, I’m paying… thousands in taxes, and that’s wrong.”

Currently, more nonresidents hold mooring slips in Newport than residents. By regulation, they each may transfer their slip to a family member once. Some slips have been passed to sons, daughters and siblings through the years, many of whom no longer live in the city. “This is just so wrong that nonresidents are getting the slips and residents are not,” Mulholland said.

Middletown resident Matthew DeMatteo, who purchased a home in 2002, told the council that he was placed onto the mooring list in 2003. In 2012, he purchased another home in Middletown, which is his permanent residence.

“For approximately 11 or 12 years I have been a resident making my way up the list. I am number eight,” he said.

Soon after purchasing his second home, he was informed that a moratorium was placed on advancing anyone on the list. “This was a program that was completely mis- managed. The people who are paying for it are still sitting on the list,” he said.

Mayor Harry Winthrop disputed DeMatteo’s assertion that the program has been mismanaged. “It has not been mismanaged. It has been policy,” he said. “The policy was wrong and the policy is being changed. Today, more nonresidents have moorings than residents. The fact is, we are going to get this back in line.”

Winthrop said a recent headline in The Newport Daily News that read, “Nonresidents are getting a break” was “erroneous.”

He said the city wanted to allow new slips solely to go to Newport residents, but that it was not allowed by CRMC.

“We can’t do all Newport residents, but we can do 8-to-1. This is a significant change. Right now, it’s out of balance and we agree with you on that,” Winthrop said.

According to the city’s website, mooring fields exist in the main harbor, Spindle, the Point and Brenton Cove. The waiting list had approximately 550 people listed at the end of 2016, with the average wait time being 10 years for residents, 15 years for nonresidents. The initial fee to be placed on the list is $25, with a $10 annual renewal fee.

In 2014, the mooring ordinance was changed in an attempt to bring the resident/nonresident moorings in line with the allowed state regulations. It also provided wording that prohibited the granting of any nonresident moorings until the 3-to-1 ratio of permits was achieved in the entire harbor.

According to Harbormaster Timothy Mills’ recommendation to the council, it is expected that no new nonresident permits will be issued for 10 years or more.

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