Other Town Events

Beach Use Ordinance September 18, 2013 RCL meeting notes


Final Revision B – Provided by the Rye Civic League

Committee members present (counter clockwise around table):  Tom Farrelly, Katy Sherman, Bill Epperson, Del Record, Joe Mills, Mike LaBrie, Craig Musselman, Fire Chief Skip Sullivan (ex officio), Tyler McGill.  Sitting in audience:  Police Chief Kevin Walsh (ex officio).

Video starts at 6:09:18 p.m. (0:00 elapsed)

Approval of minutes (0:08 elapsed)

The minutes of the prior meeting were approved with a minor change.

Draft of Article 13 (2:47 elapsed)

The modified article with changes from the prior meeting was discussed.  There are now 9 beaches defined.  Farragut Beach has been added.  It is opposite the former location of the Farragut Hotel.  A change was made to the background check provision after the Town attorney suggested that these checks not be formalized, due to liability concerns.  Satellite images were viewed to locate all of the beaches.  Sawyers Beach has been lengthened, to start at the pipes.

Tyler McGill stated that the revised article is as agreed.  There was discussion about the notarization requirement.  Messrs. McGill, Epperson and Mills were in favor of removing the notarization requirement.  Del Record abstained, stating that he is not in favor of the permit requirement and did not want his vote to suggest otherwise.

Beach permit application (21:14 elapsed)

The beach permit application was discussed, including the requirement that a 50 foot separation be maintained between surfers and all swimmers and lifeguard protected areas.  There was discussion about kite surfing being removed and replaced by kayaks.  That led into a discussion about someone having been cut by a paddleboard.  The ambulance came, but there was no patient to be found.  There was also discussion about someone having been run over by a kayak on August 11, 2013.

Beach ordinance modifications and kayak incident (30:12 elapsed)

It was determined that a review of the existing Beach Ordinance indicated that no other changes were needed, except one that Police Chief Walsh requested.  Chief Walsh then described the incident with the kayak, which occurred on August 11 at Cable Rd. extension.  A wave had caused the kayak to turn, and it went over the top of a swimmer, who was unable to get up for a time.  There was nothing in the existing law for the officer to write the kayaker up for, other than possibly disorderly conduct.  There was discussion as to whether a kayak was considered a boat and whether the language in the ordinance should be changed to “watercraft.”

The consensus appeared to be that this change did not relate to the permits for commercial activity that were under consideration.  Chief Walsh stated that he would get together with the Fire Chief and discuss the change with the Chairman of the Beach Commission.  Craig Musselman stated that the Board of Selectmen could change the ordinance after a public hearing.  Joe Mills stated that it should be done after the March election.  Then it would be in effect, but would not be voted on by the public until the following March.

Next steps, public hearing (42:12 elapsed)

After Mike LaBrie stated that the next step should be a public hearing, Craig Musselman moved that the proposed ordinance be submitted for public review and comment.  Bill Epperson seconded the motion.  All were in favor except Tyler McGill, who voted against, and Del Record, who abstained.

Criteria for permit issuance (44:37 elapsed)

Tom Farrelly then asked what the criteria would be for permit issuance, including how much beach would be allocated for various activities.  Mike LaBrie responded that it would be up to the Board of Selectmen as they get requests for permits to feel this out, possibly with public input pushing or pulling.

Tyler McGill inquired as to whether those supporting and opposing would be allowed input regarding the Summer Sessions application.  Mike LaBrie responded that consideration of the application would occur at a public hearing. Craig Musselman interjected, “no, no, no, there’s no public hearing here.”  Tyler McGill then asked whether people would be permitted to speak pro and con on the Summer Sessions application.  Craig Musselman responded that only a couple of applicants had even shown up at the meeting where the Selectmen considered their applications.  There is not necessarily an opportunity for public comment, but the Selectmen rarely tell people that they cannot speak, Mr. Musselman said.  Fire Chief Sullivan stated that the Beach Commission Chairman should be involved, “if we have one.”  Editor’s note:  Mike LaBrie has indicated that he is planning to resign as Beach Commission Chairman.  Joe Mills stated that, in his 22 years as Selectman, there has not been much controversy about permits until Tyler McGill showed up.

Tom Farrelly and Katy Sherman expressed concern about commercial activity taking up public space on the beach.  She asked whether the Police Chief would say no to two groups of 40 people.

Setting of public hearing date (53:02 elapsed)

October 9, 2013 and November 13, 2013 were considered as possible dates for the public hearing.  Craig Musselman expressed concern that the “beach people” would be gone prior to the public hearing.  It was agreed that the hearing would be on October 9, 2013.  The question then arose as to how many people would attend.  Craig Musselman stated that this proposed ordinance is about permitting, not other issues including the separation of surfers and swimmers.  He argued that the other issues are for a different forum.  It will be out of order to address other issues at the hearing, he said.  Whether there should be permits or not is fair game.

Tyler McGill asked whether the public input would be taken into account.  Joe Mills responded that it would be.

Adjournment (62:50 elapsed)

Whereupon the meeting adjourned at 7:12:05 p.m.