Supervisors to seek advice on no-wake zones

Published 12:40 pm Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors agreed at Monday’s meeting to seek input from fishermen and property owners along the Nottoway River. This was done to help make an equitable decision regarding a no-wake zone on the Nottoway from Courtland to the North Carolina border.

At present, there are four separate no-wake zones in the river, starting with the public boat landing near the General Vaughan Bridge through the former Dockside restaurant in the Nottoway Shores Subdivision. The two other zones are established in between those two, with one located near the bend in the river and the other where the Blackwater and Nottoway rivers nearly come in contact.

“We’re not here to settle that [issue] tonight,” said Dr. Alan Edwards of the Jerusalem district. “I think we need to look at the whole system,” to which Franklin-Hunterdale Supervisor Barry Porter agreed. He said the calls he’s gotten are against it.

“They feel under attack and fear their rights aren’t being considered. We need to consider everybody’s rights. I think no-wake zones make absolute sense, but have to reluctantly agree with Edwards that they don’t do a lot for erosion control. Let’s not eliminate them. We’ve got to balance the issue. Let’s not take all those rights away.”

Carl Faison of the Boykins District said he’s also received phone calls from constituents, and he asked whether no-wake zones are a safety or erosion issue.

“We can’t legislate erosion,” Edwards replied.

Porter said, “I’m torn that I’ve got to make someone a winner and someone a loser. I’m just not prepared to vote for this zone.”

Dallas Jones, chairman, agreed that it’s a safety issue.

Faison wondered if the two no-wake zones could be made into one.

Porter then reemphasized his request to study the matter further.

Capron District Supervisors Bruce Phillips asked town attorney Richard Railey about talking to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for guidance. To which he said the board can’t just write a letter and ask that agency to come up with regulations.

“There’s nothing in place that works or really makes sense,” said vice chairman Ronnie West. “Mr. Porter was correct that we need an overall plan. It’s not about erosion. It’s more of a safety issue.”

He continued, “There’s no need to compound wrong with wrong,” and then suggested that each supervisor find two people and tasking them for input.

“Let’s work out some agreement that works as far as use and protecting boaters who want to be on the river. It’s a great recreational resource — an asset to the county,” he said, and added that property owners also should be protected.

The supervisors will present names next month and form a citizens committee.