Cities and now all county governments have the authority to remove abandoned vessels from navigable waters within their jurisdictions under a bill passed recently by the North Carolina General Assembly.
Legislative action on Senate Bill 465 came to a close on Thursday morning when the House approved the bill in a 108-0 vote.
The bill must be signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper, who was presented the proposed law Friday.
The bill adds language to an existing general statute that allowed only the 20 Coastal Area Management Act counties to adopt ordinances to manage removal and disposal of abandoned vessels.
Abandoned vessels are defined as those either moored, anchored, or located more than 30 consecutive days within a 180-consecutive-day timespan without a dock owner’s permission, or a boat in danger of sinking, already sunk or resting on the bottom, poses a navigation hazard or is an immediate danger to other vessels.
Underwater archeological remains including shipwrecks, vessels, cargoes, and tackle in place for more than a decade are not considered abandoned and may not be moved without the approval of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Sens. Michael Lazzara, R-Onslow, Tom McInnis, R-Cumberland, and Norm Sanderson, R-Pamlico, introduced the bill April 3.