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Riverhead considers a ban on new houseboats, floating homes

Riverhead Town is considering a ban on new

Riverhead Town is considering a ban on new houseboats, house barges and floating cabanas. (Credit: Handout)

Riverhead is preparing to join other Long Island towns such as Southampton, Huntington and Brookhaven in severely restricting or banning new floating homes.

The town board held a public hearing Tuesday on a local law that would ban new houseboats, house barges and floating cabanas, and require existing ones — officials say there are only about a dozen now in town waters and marinas — to get a special permit, install a holding tank for sewage waste and be occupied every day for at least three months.

If the houseboat does not meet that requirement, or if it is removed from town waters, the owner would lose the right to have a special exemption permit.

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In addition, houseboats would not be allowed to tie up within 50 feet of a dock, pier or boat launch ramp. And, if they are damaged and lose more than half their value, the owner would not be allowed to get a new permit.

Violating the new law carries a fine of up to $500.

After the public hearing — during which one man questioned how the law could simultaneously demand that houseboats meet town building code standards and U.S. Coast Guard regulations — Supervisor Sean Walter said the proposal likely would require additional review.

“I have a feeling we’re going back to the drawing board on some of this,” he said.

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