The debate over whether to set speed limits on Palmetto Bay canals continued.
BY PATRICIA MAZZEI
Last month, Palmetto Bay officials listened to people who live on village canals complain about loud, speeding boaters. Set a speed limit on the waterways, they asked.
On Monday, council members heard from the other side — villagers who said they moved to Palmetto Bay to could enjoy the water. Their plea: Protect our lifestyle.
”We spend our weekends on the canal,” Rainer Schael said. “We fish, we ski, we play.”
The village is considering designating the canals as minimum-wake and slow-speed zones, requiring boaters and skiers to move slowly through the waterways. That is a change from the original proposal before the council in November, which would have set a more stringent no-wake zone requirement.
Canal users ignoring the rule could be cited — the waterways equivalent of a speeding ticket on the highway — by state, county or municipal officers, including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has some jurisdiction over the canals.
The measure was proposed by former Vice Mayor Linda Robinson and state Rep. Julio Robaina, who said they were reacting to ”years” of complaints from residents.
But it could keep people from water skiing, jet skiing and otherwise enjoying the canals, some residents said at Monday’s council meeting.
”This ordinance is absolutely crazy,” said Ryan Swakon, who said he boats, kayaks and wake boards on the waterways and nearby lakes.
The large, cigarette and commercial fishing boats residents spoke about last month could not fit through the canals, he said.
His father, Ed Swakon — president of the Miami Marine Council, a group that works to preserve boater rights — said boaters from outside the village were to blame for speeding.
”The people who don’t understand [responsible boating] won’t obey your law anyway,” he said.
Still, speeding boats threaten other people on the canal, other villagers said.
”I have been run up into the bank more than once,” said Henry Clifford, a kayaker. “I don’t like the idea of having to listen constantly if there’s a boat coming around the corner to nail me.”
Elected officials largely stayed out of the debate, although Vice Mayor Brian Pariser said he was concerned about people disturbed by boat noise.
Council member Shelley Stanczyk, who lives on a canal, said the waterways were built to prevent flooding. Boat traffic, she said, has decreased recently. But, she added, “you can’t ignore the fact that they do speed.”
The village will hold a town hall-style meeting to discuss the issue at 6 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Deering Estate Visitor’s Center, 16701 SW 72nd Ave. It will then take up the measure for a third time, probably in February.
Till next time tight lines and good fishing….
From Staff and Wire Reports