Will Town Council Make a Boat Load of Trouble?

DIRTY DOZEN: These 12 boats were parked on streets in the Historic District the afternoon of Sunday, September 23. Although a Town ordinance bans boat parking, the ordinance is illegal and not enforced. Town Council is considering asking the State Legislature for special permission to regulate boat parking. (Wave photos)

Cape Charles Wave

September 24, 2012

First it was political signs, now it’s boats.

One Town ordinance bans display of political signs until 45 days before an election (that’s September 22). Another ordinance prohibits boat parking on the street for more than 48 hours.

Both ordinances are illegal.

Display of political signs on private property is a First Amendment right that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1994.

Boat parking on Town streets is a little more complicated. Town streets are controlled and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation. VDOT allows towns to regulate vehicle parking, but not to differentiate between types of vehicles.

A car or a truck is a vehicle. So is a boat on a trailer. So if the Town permits parking by cars or trucks, it has to allow boats as well.

The Wave surveyed every street in the Historic District yesterday, and found a total of 12 boats parked on streets. ┬áThere had been high winds that day, and presumably few small boats were out on the water. ┬áSo the 12 boats would seem to be roughly all the boats parked on Town streets at this time of year. [Read more…]