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Babylon Village pilot mooring program runs aground with some boating residents

Babylon Village resident Barbara Williams is pictured on

Babylon Village resident Barbara Williams is pictured on Saturday at the dock just outside of her home in which her and other neighbors pay $400 to rent from the village, but must maintain themselves. Credit: JOHNNY MILANO

Babylon Village officials have proposed making permanent a pilot mooring program designed to address concerns about boating safety, but residents said they are opposed to it if it won’t allow them to have an ownership stake instead of renting docks.

The Mud Creek Pilot Mooring Program was created last April at the start of the boating season. Among the regulations are allowing only one pleasure boat to be moored at the boat slip and that boats fit the designated boat slip without impacting neighboring vessels.

The new subsection law for the village’s dock rules and regulations would include those guidelines to govern boat use along Mayhew Avenue. Comments about the proposal must be received by Tuesday.

During a Jan. 12 board of trustees public hearing, village attorney Gerard Glass said maintenance at the location is the renter’s responsibility. When village officials held informational meetings last February and March with residents who live by the canal, the pitch was to create a Mud Creek Pilot Mooring Program, residents said.

"It should be under my tax [bill] instead of adding another slip," said Dylan Stephens, 41, who lives by the creek. "They strong-armed us."

The pilot program is the subject of a lawsuit filed last August in state Supreme Court in Riverhead. Judith Jedrlinic, who filed the lawsuit, owns a parcel of property on Wilson Drive that she contends the village is unlawfully including in its pilot mooring program, said her lawyer, Janice Whelan of Huntington.

Whelan said the Article 78/declaratory judgment action seeks judicial review of the village’s enactment of the pilot program, which the suit alleges does not comply with state law, and its decision to include her parcel in the pilot mooring program. The second portion of the lawsuit seeks a judicial determination that Jedrlinic is the rightful owner of the parcel that the village seeks to include in the program.

In interviews with several residents, many took issue with the program and its implementation despite the lack of previous regulations. Mayor Mary Adams and trustee Dominic Bencivenga, who is appointed to the village’s docks & golf committees, did not return a request for comment.

Barbara Williams, who lives on Mayhew Avenue, said for the amount the village is charging for a boat slip there — $400 — residents get "nothing" compared to other boat locations in the village that offer electricity, parking and more. The proposed law would require renters to add the village as an additional insured party.

"If they deed it to us, then it’s not an issue for them," Williams, 62, said.

Jeff Schwager, 56, said his parents have maintained a dock there since 1962. Schwager said he wants to have an opportunity if it becomes available to purchase a deeded dock slip.

"We want to resolve this in the long term," he said.

Fred Koopman, 57, called the pilot program "a money grab."

"Everybody wants the option to purchase," he said. "We should have the first right of refusal."

PROPOSED REGULATIONS

  • A single pleasure boat may be moored at the slip, no outside storage.
  • All renters shall reside in the immediate area. No cars associated with the dock use may be parked on the street.
  • The boat must appropriately fit the designated slip without impacting neighboring boats.
  • All renters shall provide proof of insurance policy for their use of the slip, naming the Village of Babylon as additional insured. The boat policy or addendum to the homeowner’s policy is acceptable.
  • The slip is rented solely on an “as is” “where is” basis. Any repairs of a structural nature shall require a building permit. Maintenance of the slip shall be the renter’s obligation.
  • No utility service is permitted at the slip.

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