Town of Bethel, NY
Sullivan County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Bethel 7-24-2003 by L.L. No. 2-2003 (Ch. 127 of the 1990 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Appearance tickets — See Ch. 9.
Dumping of waste — See Ch. 279.
Zoning — See Ch. 345.

§ 104-1 Statutory authority.

This chapter is adopted pursuant to § 130 of the Town Law of the State of New York, including, without limitation, Subdivision 17 thereof, Regulation of Vessels, Personal Watercraft and Specialty Prop-craft; the New York State Constitution affording police power to protect health, safety and general welfare of the community; Municipal Home Rule Law § 10; and § 46 of the Navigation Law of the State of New York, affording the right to establish a vessel regulation zone if such establishment of a zone will promote the safety of the people and be for the best interests of the Town.

§ 104-2 Jurisdiction.

The provisions of this chapter shall apply to all public waterways of the Town of Bethel, which are not privately owned, to a distance of 1,500 feet from the shoreline of public waterways.

§ 104-3 Definitions.

As used in this chapter, the following terms have the definitions hereinafter given them:
BOATING SAFETY CERTIFICATE
A certificate evidencing that the holder thereof has successfully completed a course of instruction in boating safety, including instruction in the safe operation of personal watercraft. The certificate is issued by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), the United States power squadrons, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, or another state or government.
DESIGNATED BATHING AREA
A bathing place at a pond, lake, stream or other body of fresh or salt water which is used for bathing or swimming, and is regulated and officially recognized as such by the New York State Department of Health.
JUMPING THE WAKE
To become airborne or completely leave the water while crossing the wake of another vessel.
MOTORBOAT
A mechanically propelled vessel designed to be operated in the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel.
OPERATOR
An individual who operates or navigates a pleasure vessel.
PARASAILING
Operating a mechanically propelled vessel, by motorboat or personal watercraft, which is towing a person on water skis, with a parachute device designed to achieve airlift of the skier.
PERSON
An individual, society, club, firm, partnership, corporation or association of persons, the singular including the plural.
PERSONAL WATERCRAFT
A vessel which uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power, or is powered by an outboard motor or propeller-driven motor, which vessel is designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing or kneeling on, or being towed behind, the vessel rather than in the conventional manner of sitting or standing inside the vessel; said personal watercraft to include, without limitation, types of personal watercraft and specialty prop-craft as defined in § 2 (Subdivisions 30 and 31) of the Navigation Law of the State of New York.
PUBLIC WATERWAY
Any body of water open to the public and not just the private owners thereof, including but not limited to lakes, ponds, streams, rivers or brooks, which shall be wholly located within the boundaries of or adjoin the Town of Bethel.
RENTAL FISHING BOAT
A motorboat powered by a motor no larger than 10 horsepower (hp).
RESTRICTED VISIBILITY
Any condition in which visibility is restricted by fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rainstorms, sandstorms or other similar causes.
TOWING OF PERSONS
Water-skiing; operation of a vessel with a rider, and participants being towed behind said vessel by means of a towrope or towline, said participants being on water skis, surfboards, kneeboards, wake boards, discs, tubes or hydrofoils.
VESSEL
Any floating craft; all vessels shall belong to one of the following classes, as defined in § 2, Subdivision 6, of the Navigation Law of the State of New York:
A. 
Every vessel which is propelled in whole or in part by mechanical power and is used or operated for commercial purposes on the navigable waters of the state; that is either carrying passengers, carrying freight, towing or for any other use; for which a compensation is received, either directly or where provided as an accommodation, advantage, facility or privilege at any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement.
B. 
Includes every vessel which is used primarily as a residence.
C. 
Includes every vessel not within the classification of public vessel or residential vessel, including but not limited to motorboats and personal watercraft.
WHISTLE
Any sound-producing mechanical appliance, except sirens, capable of producing a blast of two seconds or more in duration and of such strength as to be heard plainly for a distance of at least 1/2 mile in still weather.

§ 104-4 Regulated and restricted activities on public waterways.

A. 
Towing of persons.
(1) 
Operation of vessels towing ski or aquaplane riders are regulated and restricted so that operators shall:
(a) 
Keep at least 100 feet from shore, pier, bridge structure, abutment, other vessels or other persons in the water.
(b) 
Have an observer at least 10 years of age physically on board. Mirrors or other substitute measures or visual apparatus shall not be acceptable.
(c) 
Have a towline not exceeding 75 feet in length.
(2) 
Operation of vessels towing riders shall not be permitted between sunset and 8:00 a.m. or during times of restricted visibility.
(3) 
All those towed behind a power-driven vessel shall wear a United States Coast Guard approved Type I, Type II, Type III or Type V hybrid personal flotation device.
(4) 
Water skiing jumps shall not be placed in the public waterways of the Town of Bethel.
B. 
Personal watercraft.
(1) 
As of January 1, 2004, all operators of personal watercraft, including any persons who own, rent or ride personal watercraft, shall be required to possess a boating safety certificate, unless they are subject to the provisions of § 104-5C hereof.
[Amended 1-22-2004 by L.L. No. 1-2004]
(a) 
No personal watercraft permits shall be issued to those operators who do not hold the boating safety certificate.
(b) 
No person who is the owner of a personal watercraft shall knowingly authorize or permit the operation thereof unless the operator is the holder of, or is accompanied by a person over 18 years of age who is the holder of, a boating safety certificate.
(2) 
Pursuant to § 73-a, Subdivision 1g, of the Navigation Law of the State of New York, every personal watercraft shall at all times be operated in a reasonable and prudent manner. Maneuvers which unreasonably or unnecessarily endanger life, limb or property, including but not limited to weaving through congested vessel traffic; or jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to such other vessel or when visibility around such other vessel is obstructed; or swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision, shall constitute reckless operation of a vessel, as provided in § 45 of the Navigation Law of the State of New York.
(3) 
All operators of personal watercraft shall:
(a) 
Not operate in any manner or at any speed which is reckless, unsafe or hazardous to public safety, giving due regard to visibility, traffic density, state of wind, water and current, proximity of other craft, operators and water users, and proximity of navigational hazards.
(b) 
Keep at least 100 feet from swimmers or public and private beaches, except for leaving or arriving at a marina, private dock or shoreline, in which case the personal watercraft shall operate at a speed no greater than five miles per hour, without creating a wake, in a line which is perpendicular to the destination or departure.
(c) 
Keep at least 500 feet from any designated bathing area, except in bodies of water where the opposing shoreline is less than 500 feet from such designated area, and except for leaving or arriving, in which case the personal watercraft shall operate at a speed no greater than 10 miles per hour.
(4) 
No personal watercraft shall be operated between sunset and 8:00 a.m. or during times of restricted visibility, and, if rented, are limited as hereinafter set forth:
[Amended 1-22-2004 by L.L. No. 1-2004]
(a) 
No personal watercraft shall be operated on Lake Superior or on the public portion of the Toronto Reservoir.
(5) 
All operators and riders of personal watercraft shall wear a United States Coast Guard approved Type I, Type II, Type III or Type V hybrid personal flotation device.
(6) 
If so equipped, the engine cutoff lanyard must be attached to the operator of a personal watercraft. Visual distress signals and a sound signaling device (horn or whistle) must be carried.
C. 
Motorboats.
(1) 
No person shall operate a motorboat at above the minimum speed necessary to maintain steerage way between sunset and 8:00 a.m. or during times of restricted visibility.
(2) 
Pursuant to § 49, Subdivision 1, of the Navigation Law of the State of New York, no person under the age of 18 shall operate a motorboat unless the operator is accompanied therein by a person who is 18 years of age or older, or the operator is 10 years of age or older and is the holder of a boating safety certificate.
(3) 
Pursuant to § 45, Subdivision 2, of the Navigation Law of the State of New York, no vessel shall be operated within 100 feet of the shore, a dock, pier, raft, float or an anchored or moored vessel at a speed exceeding five miles per hour, unless such vessel is being operated near such shore, dock, float, pier, raft or anchored vessel for the purpose of enabling a person engaged in water skiing to take off or land.
D. 
General regulations.
(1) 
No vessel exceeding 20 feet in length shall be permitted, with the exception of deck, pontoon and sailboats that do not create significant wakes that create a danger to others using the public waterways.
(2) 
Boats directly approaching each other shall conform to the "Pilot rules" prescribed in § 41 of the Navigation Law of the State of New York.
(3) 
Pursuant to § 40, Subdivision 1, of the Navigation Law of the State of New York, every vessel less than 40 feet in length and every rowboat and canoe shall have at least one wearable personal flotation device for each person on board, which shall be of a type approved by the United States Coast Guard and shall be in good condition, as well as an efficient whistle and one B-1 fire extinguisher.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
(4) 
No motorboat or personal watercraft shall be operated using zigzag or donut pattern maneuvers.
(5) 
Parasailing is restricted and not permitted.
(6) 
Towing a disabled vessel shall be strictly in accordance with the provisions of the New York State Navigation Law.
(7) 
No public waterway in the Town of Bethel shall be used for purposes of offering seaplane rides on a commercial recreational basis.
(8) 
No plastic or vinyl toy rafts shall be allowed outside of swimming areas.

§ 104-5 Motorboat and personal watercraft rental businesses.

A. 
All motorboats and personal watercraft owned by rental businesses shall be officially registered with the State of New York and marked with six-inch-high identification insignia including the name of the rental company and number on both sides of the watercraft, except in those cases where the State of New York shall require a different standard.
B. 
No motorboat shall be rented to a person unless such person is 18 years of age or older, or such person is 16 years of age or older and the holder of a boating safety certificate. The owner of such rental business shall obtain identification from the would-be renter in the form of a driver's license or other alternate form of identification containing the name and address of the would-be renter. The license or alternate form of identification shall be held as a deposit by the owner of the rental business until the return of the personal watercraft or motorboat to the owner. Each owner of such rental business shall maintain a daily log of all rentals made by the rental business. No person other than a rentee shall operate a rental motorboat or personal watercraft.
C. 
No personal watercraft shall be rented to a person unless such person is 16 years of age or older and is the holder of a boating safety certificate. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a person over 18 years of age may operate such personal watercraft without a boating safety certificate when such operation is restricted by the operator of such rental business to a specified area, no part of which shall be more than 2,500 feet from the rental business location, or, if removed from the rental business location, not more than 500 feet from the rental business operator to supervise such operation and such personal watercraft and/or the personal flotation device of the operator is clearly marked in such a manner as to be distinguishable by the operator of such rental business within the permitted areas of operation.
[Amended 1-22-2004 by L.L. No. 1-2004]
D. 
Personal watercraft shall not be rented between the hours of 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. and must be secured by 6:00 p.m. daily, excepting the additional restrictions prescribed by § 104-4B(4)(a) of this chapter, for all personal watercraft.
E. 
Nonpersonal watercraft vessels, except fishing boats and pontoon boats, shall not be rented between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. and must be secured by 7:00 p.m. During the month of July, however, nonpersonal watercraft vessels may be rented up to 7:00 p.m., and shall be secured during July no later than 8:00 p.m.
F. 
The owner of each rental business shall provide information to the operator of any motorboat or personal watercraft rented regarding the manner in which it is to be operated, which information shall be in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions and design. Such course of instruction shall also be fully consistent with the boating safety instruction requirements adopted by the State of New York for personal watercraft. The owner of the rental business shall also obtain the signed consent of any operator of a motorboat or personal watercraft that he or she has reviewed and understands these written instructions. These instructions shall be provided on a laminated card permanently affixed to the motorboat or personal watercraft in a location which is easily visible to the operator and shall include a summary of the foregoing rules of operation as well as such other information as the Town Board of the Town of Bethel shall from time to time specify by resolution. Failure to so instruct each renter of said requirements shall subject the owner of a rental business to a violation of this chapter.
[Amended 1-22-2004 by L.L. No. 1-2004]
G. 
Each rental business owner shall have a manned patrol boat on the water and operating at all times that any motorized watercraft is rented out. Such patrol boat shall ensure that all watercraft rented by the owner are operating in compliance with this chapter and provide such other operational assistance and guidance as may be required to ensure safe conduct and safe use of the public waterways by its customers.
H. 
All rental operations shall require a special use permit pursuant to Chapter 345, Zoning, and shall not be permitted to operate without first obtaining said permit regardless of whether or not any building construction is involved. Any existing operations which were lawfully established pursuant to Chapter 345, Zoning, prior to the enactment of this chapter shall comply with all operational aspects of this chapter within 30 days of the effective date as provided herein. All rental sites shall be located on shore and no rental business shall be permitted more than one location.
I. 
All operators of motorboats or personal watercraft owned by rental businesses shall be provided with and utilize personal flotation devices as required above. Such personal flotation devices shall be clearly marked in easily readable contrasting colors to identify the fact the equipment being operated is a rental.
J. 
The owner of any rental business shall comply with and shall be held accountable for ensuring compliance by its employees and invitees with the provisions of this § 104-5.
[Added 1-22-2004 by L.L. No. 1-2004]

§ 104-6 Dumping of wastes prohibited.

In the interests of the public health, the prevention of disease, the elimination of pollution and the exclusion of contamination of the water and in order to protect and safeguard the sanitation of bathing, as well as the general health of the citizens, residents and visitors of the Town of Bethel, no person shall dump or discard garbage, food wastes, offal or any other waste, refuse or sewage materials into any of said waters.

§ 104-7 Permit system.

A. 
Basic requirements. No personal watercraft shall be operated on any public waterway in the Town of Bethel unless the owner or operator of such personal watercraft shall:
(1) 
Have obtained a current permit from the Town of Bethel to operate the personal motorized watercraft on the public waterway of the Town.
(2) 
Be the holder of a boating safety certificate, a copy of which must be submitted to the Town in order for the permit to be granted.
(3) 
Operate such personal motorized watercraft in compliance with the requirements of this chapter pertaining to boating and the operation of personal watercraft. These requirements apply to all jet-powered watercraft.
B. 
Application of requirements. The particular requirements of this permit system, notwithstanding the applicability of the remainder of this chapter to all of the Town, shall only be White Lake and only for the period of May 1 through September 30. They shall also only be applicable to personal watercraft.
C. 
Types of permits. The following types of permits shall be made available:
(1) 
Season permits. These permits shall provide for operation of personal watercraft, consistent with this chapter, on the waters of White Lake anytime from May 1 through September 30.
(2) 
Weekly permits. These permits shall provide for operation of personal motorized watercraft, consistent with this chapter, on the waters of White Lake for periods of one week or less ending on Mondays. Weekly permits shall be dated and shall not be reusable. They shall not be issued more than seven days prior to the beginning of the period to which they apply and shall be made available to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis. Boat liveries and/or rentals shall not be eligible for weekly permits.
(3) 
Daily permits. These permits shall provide for operation of personal watercraft, consistent with this chapter, on the waters of White Lake for a given single date. Daily permits shall be issued at the discretion of the Bethel Dockmaster based on the advice of the Bethel Water Patrol, observed level of lake use and operation conditions. They shall not be reusable, shall be dated and shall only be issued on the day for which they apply. They shall be made available to the general public at the New York State launch site by the Dockmaster on a first-come, first-served basis. Boat liveries and/or rentals shall not be eligible for daily permits.
D. 
Permit limits.
(1) 
The total combined number of weekly and daily permits issued at any one time shall be limited to a maximum of 25.
(2) 
The following exceptions and special provisions shall be made with respect to permits:
(a) 
Notwithstanding any limit on the number of permits issued, any Town of Bethel resident shall be issued a season or weekly permit upon request and such permits shall only be counted with respect to determining remaining permits to be made available to those members of the general public who are not residents in the Town of Bethel.
(b) 
Boat liveries and/or rentals located on White Lake which were lawfully established prior to the 2000 season shall each be eligible for up to three season permits and shall have priority for the season permits which are limited in number. All such permits containing the prerequisites of this chapter shall be applied for prior to May 1 of the year for which they are intended to apply. Application may be made by personal appearance or by mail, in accordance with the rules and regulations established by the Town Clerk of the Town of Bethel. A daily roster with the registration numbers of the personal watercraft to be used that day will be submitted to the Town of Bethel patrol boat on duty each day.
(c) 
Lawfully established marinas located on White Lake which rent boat slips or moorings for personal watercraft not used in a rental operation and which do not rent personal watercraft themselves shall each be allocated up to five weekly permits per week, notwithstanding any other limits or restrictions which may apply. These weekly permits shall be reserved to the marina for sale to individual renters of slips or moorings.
(d) 
Daily permits shall be issued at the discretion of a Dockmaster to be appointed by the Town of Bethel Town Board. The Dockmaster shall be authorized, but not required, to issue on a daily basis such additional permits as the observed levels of use and conditions may warrant. In determining whether to issue daily permits, the Dockmaster shall also be guided by the advice of the Bethel Water Patrol and shall not issue such permits if the chief enforcement officer on duty at the time shall for any reason declare conditions to be unsafe.
(3) 
Permits, once issued to an owner or operator, shall not be transferable to another owner or operator.
E. 
Standards and enforcement.
(1) 
All permittees shall fully comply with this chapter.
(2) 
All permits shall be accompanied with educational materials regarding boating safety and the requirements of this chapter.
(3) 
All applicants for permits shall produce a copy of a current boat registration for the personal watercraft to which they want the permit to attach. Such registration shall be in the name of an eligible permit applicant.
(4) 
No personal watercraft, motorboat, pontoon boat or motorized vessel of any other kind that is rented to the general public shall be operated on White Lake unless the owner of such watercraft has secured a policy of insurance against liability for bodily injury and death and for property damage associated with operation of a personal watercraft. All applicants for permits shall maintain and, upon request, produce proof of financial security to cover this liability. Such proof, which shall be required as prerequisite of any permit application, shall be in the form of a certificate of insurance documenting that the owner of the personal watercraft has secured a policy of insurance affording coverage of no less than $1,000,000 for combined single limit liability (bodily injury or death and property damage) per accident. The failure to produce such certificate of insurance, when requested to do so by any person charged with the administration and enforcement of this chapter, shall be presumptive evidence of operating a vessel without insurance. Upon production of such certificate of insurance, the presumption shall be removed.
(5) 
Permits shall be produced on demand of any officer charged with the responsibility for enforcing this chapter and permittees shall likewise produce copies of boating registrations upon request to do so.
(6) 
Those officials responsible for enforcing this chapter shall have full and complete authority to enforce the provisions of this permit system, including the right to issue appearance tickets.
(7) 
A permit shall be considered immediately revoked for a period of one year upon conviction for any violation of this chapter or the requirements contained herein. No further notice to the permittee shall apply and such permittee shall not be eligible to apply for a new permit until the one year has expired.
F. 
Administration.
(1) 
The Town of Bethel Town Clerk shall issue all season and weekly permits provided.
(2) 
Daily permits shall be issued by the Dockmaster.
(3) 
There shall be no fees for personal watercraft permits.
(4) 
The Town of Bethel Town Clerk shall make final decisions with respect to issuing all season and weekly permits and such decisions shall not be appealable. The Dockmaster shall similarly make all final decisions with respect to daily permits, except as provided herein.
(5) 
The Town Board may temporarily or permanently suspend all permits in the event of an emergency or other threats to public safety.
(6) 
No permit, once issued, shall be transferred to any other party.

§ 104-8 Enforcement; penalties for offenses.

A. 
The provisions of this chapter shall be enforced by the Town of Bethel Town Constable and/or other law enforcement agencies. The Constable shall be assisted by members of the Bethel Water Patrol, all of whom shall be appointed by the Town of Bethel Town Board for specific terms of office and may also be removed at the discretion of the Board. All shall serve in the capacity of constables and with the authority given to such public servants under § 9-2 of the Town of Bethel Code.
B. 
Any person, partnership, association or corporation who violates any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a violation pursuant to this chapter and be punished by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $500 or by imprisonment of not more than 15 days or by such fine and imprisonment, or other penalties as may be available under Town Law.
C. 
In addition to the above-provided penalties, the Town Board may also maintain an action or proceeding in the name of the Town in a court of competent jurisdiction to compel compliance with or to restrain by injunction the violation of any portion of this chapter.