Riverhead town officials again table houseboat amendment

Riverhead Town is considering a ban on new

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

For the second time in a month, the Riverhead Town Board yesterday tabled a proposed new law aimed at tightly regulating houseboats in town waters.

Confusion again arose over a section of the proposed law dealing with building standards and whether the town's building code could supersede requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard for construction standards.

Before the unanimous vote to table the resolution, town board members agreed to clarify issues and revisit the issue at a future work session.


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The proposed amendment would have made it illegal for any new houseboats -- town officials estimate there are a dozen or so in town waters -- to be brought in and used either for living purposes or as waterfront offices.

Existing houseboats would be exempted if they were continuously occupied for three months or more before the law was adopted, but if they are unoccupied for a year -- or leave town waters for a year -- they could not be used again locally.

The board's resolution would have required all houseboat owners to get a permit within 120 days from the town Conservation Advisory Council. It would have to be renewed annually. Owners would also have to have a holding tank installed within six months for all wastewater.

Any houseboat damaged by more than half its value by a storm, fire or other event would also lose its permit and could not be replaced.

The proposed change would have required houseboat owners to allow inspections to insure the vessel met the requirements of the town building department, Suffolk County Health Department, and the Coast Guard.

Another restriction would have kept houseboats from docking in channels or where they would interfere with navigation by other vessels.

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