EASTON — The Talbot County Council will hold a public hearing on Bill 1436 at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10.
The bill amends Chapter 121 of the Talbot County Code (public landings) to temporarily grandfather for a period of one year for slip holders who currently hold more than one county slip. By that, it will delay the of effect of the prohibition on renting more than one boat slip established by Talbot County Bill 1407 and give such qualifying slip holders additional time to find alternative affordable slip accommodations.
Council Vice President Chuck Callahan and Councilman Frank Divilio introduced the bill.
There are 136 slips countywide in Neavitt, Claiborne, Bellevue, Wye Landing, Trappe, Dogwood Harbor, Oak Creek, Cummings Creek and Tongers Basin.
“What this is, is for watermen who work at two different rivers at different times of the year and needing to keep their boat at those different locations,” Divilio said. “The goal is to get back together with the parks and rec board to try to see if we could find more slips, more space and better usage of the marinas.”
The fiscal year 2019 revenue from the slips was $74,000, and the landings department annual budget still operates in a deficit. According to documents, “The cost of renting a slip at a public landing is generally less than renting one from a private marina. To free up additional capacity and make progress on the waitlist, Bill 1407 restricts rentals to a single slip, promotes slip transfers, and facilitate the removal of derelict vessels.”
Before Bill 1407, there was no prohibition on renting more than one boat slip at a time, and certain watermen elected to rent more than one slip to have access to commercial fishing on the Miles River and the Choptank River. Moving a workboat from the Miles to the Choptank took time due to the distance, workboat erosion and additional fuel adds up financially.
After adopting Bill 1407, the county allowed individuals renting more than one slip to keep their second slip for the 2019 season. However, while some dual slip holders were able to find alternative slip accommodations or consolidate into a single slip, others may not have been able to due to financial considerations.
During public comment, Bruce Cole said he has left messages for all the council members about wanting improvements.
“If you have any questions, I have left a message and to every council member to show what could be improved and what could make a difference like, and the impact it would have,” Cole said. “I’m a two-slip holder, and I would have to give one up, and I think it is very unfair.”
Council President Corey Pack expressed concerns, “but I’ll save those for another time,” he said. “One that jumps out at me is that you already have persons who already have given up their slips and how will they be compensated for their efforts. But we will wait to address that for another time.”