[HISTORY: Derived from Art. XIII of Ch. VI of the Charter and Ordinances, 1974, of the City of Buffalo. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The following terms, wherever used in this chapter, except as otherwise specifically indicated, shall be defined to mean and shall be held to include each of the meanings hereinbelow specifically set forth, and any such term used in the singular number shall be held to include the plural.
- Includes all the navigable waters within the limits of the City of Buffalo and the wharves, docks and piers adjacent thereto.
- Includes every kind of vessel, boat, tug and raft, by whatever power the same is designed to be propelled, and shall also include a log, timber, wood, lumber and all other floating material.
- Includes any sounding device.
There shall be one Harbormaster and one Assistant Harbormaster, whose hours of duty shall be fixed by the Commissioner of Public Works. The Harbormaster shall have general supervision and control of the harbor and shall keep an office in such place as the Commissioner of Public Works shall designate, where, at all times during the season of navigation, he may be found or where orders can be left and receive prompt attention; and it shall be the duty of the Harbormaster to see that provisions of this chapter are fully and faithfully observed, and, when necessary, he shall call upon the Commissioner of Police for aid to enable him to do so. In the absence of the Harbormaster, the Assistant Harbormaster shall perform the duties of the Harbormaster.
An employee of the department designated for such purpose shall have charge, under the Commissioner of Public Works, of the operation and maintenance of all movable bridges maintained by the City over the harbor and control of the bridge engineers on watch.
Bridge tenders on any watch shall be subject to the orders of the bridge engineer on watch, and such engineer shall be responsible for the general operating condition of such bridge.
The Harbormasters, bridge tenders and bridge engineers shall be under the Department of Public Works and shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by the orders of such Department or by ordinance. The bridge engineers and bridge tenders shall at all times obey orders from the Harbormaster as to opening and closing of such bridges.
Each Harbormaster shall, at all times while on duty, wear his badge. He shall keep accurate account and record of each case of damages to bridges, docks and to all other City property pertaining to the harbor accruing from any violation of the provisions of any ordinance by any person, firm or corporation; the name of the person, firm, corporation or vessel causing such damage; and the name of the owner, master or consignee of said vessel and shall gather all evidence and information in his power forthwith concerning every such violation, keep an accurate record of the amount of such damage and an account of all claims known to him against the City for damages sustained by vessels while in the harbor and make a detailed report thereof to the Commissioner of Public Works.
Whenever there shall be in the harbor any vessel insecurely fastened, adrift, sunken or laid up which, in the judgment of the Harbormaster, should be fastened, raised, removed or its location changed, he shall notify the owner, master or other person in charge thereof to secure, raise or remove such vessel without delay. If the Harbormaster is unable to find the master, owner or person in charge of such vessel as aforesaid or if no person answering such description is known to him, such notice shall not be required. If any vessel shall not be secured, raised, removed or its location changed in compliance with the direction of the Harbormaster forthwith, after notice, or if the Harbormaster shall be unable to serve such notice as aforesaid, in either case he shall cause such vessel to be secured, raised, removed or its location changed as required, employing such assistance as may be necessary for the purpose. All expense which may be incurred in any such case shall be recoverable of the owner, consignee, master or other person responsible for the management of such vessel.
The bridge tender or person in charge of any bridge over any portion of the harbor shall change the semaphore vessel signal to show green instead of red to acknowledge the vessel signal for opening the bridge, if the bridge can or will be opened for such signal, clear the bridge, close the highway barriers, if any, and unlock the bridge. The failure to at once change the semaphore vessel signal shall indicate that the bridge will not be immediately opened in reply to such signal. When all is clear, the bridge engineer shall blow one blast of the bridge whistle to show that the bridge is to be raised or two blasts to show that the bridge is to be lowered.
No person shall drive or attempt to drive any vehicle onto or across the draw of any bridge over any portion of the harbor while the same is opening or shutting or after the signal for the opening thereof and before the opening is begun or displayed or resist the tender thereof in his efforts to keep and promote order and equal convenience to those desiring to cross said bridge.
No person in charge of any vehicle shall permit the same to cross any of the bridges over the harbor at a faster rate of speed than the legal speed limit or unless otherwise posted.
No person shall unnecessarily or willfully remain or stop any vehicle upon any of said bridges or in or upon the approaches thereto. It shall be the duty of every person on foot or in charge of any vehicle to keep to the right when crossing said bridge.
When said bridge has been opened and closed, vehicles shall cross in the following order, namely: Those occupying the street upon which the bridge is situated shall cross first; those occupying the cross streets and upon the right-hand side of the bridge shall cross next; and those occupying the cross streets and upon the left-hand side of the bridge shall cross last. No person shall cross or attempt to cross or break into the line of vehicles while crossing or attempting to cross any such bridge.
All persons are forbidden to gather in assemblies or crowds on any bridge over any portion of the harbor or the approaches leading thereto so as to obstruct in any manner the passage of pedestrians and vehicles across the same or be and remain upon any of the sidewalks or main passage of any such approach longer than is necessary to pass the same. No band of musicians shall play or beat time to keep step with each other while they or any procession or body of persons marching with them or any portion thereof are upon or crossing any such bridge.
[Amended 5-22-1995, effective 6-2-1995]
The movable highway bridges over portions of the harbor shall not be open for passage of vessels, other than fire tugs operated by the City of Buffalo, during the times hereinafter specified, except to prevent imminent danger or injury to any such bridge; provided, however, that discretionary power is hereby conferred upon the Commissioner of Public Works to order the opening of any of said lift bridges at any time during an emergency or to promote public convenience:
Whenever any person having charge of any vessel shall wish to move the same past any bridge over any portion of the harbor, reasonable time shall be allowed for opening the same.
Whenever, at any alarm of fire, any fire engine or other fire apparatus shall approach any bridge over the harbor for the purpose of crossing the same toward such fire, the bridge tender shall, if such bridge is open, close the same as soon as practicable and keep it closed until such fire apparatus shall have had an opportunity to pass over said bridge, notwithstanding vessels may be delayed thereby. All vehicles of the Fire Department and the Police Department and vessels operated by either of said Departments shall have the right-of-way across or through any such bridge over all other traffic.
It shall be unlawful for the owner, officer or other person in charge of any vessel to attempt to pass any movable bridge across the harbor while a stop signal is being given or displayed.
The Commissioner of Public Works shall provide and maintain signals at the public highway bridges over the harbor as required by the Commissioner of Lighthouses for the security of navigation.
The owner of any movable bridge over the harbor shall provide and maintain vessel signals as required by the Commissioner of Lighthouses or by ordinances of the City of Buffalo for the security of navigation. During closed seasons, navigation lights on bridges over the harbor and other structures in the harbor must be exhibited from sunset to sunrise at all times when vessels can enter port or are navigating in the vicinity.
For all bascule or swing bridges over any portion of the harbor not carrying highway traffic, when any vessel shall signal for its opening, the bridge tender shall immediately open the bridge, unless a train is on the bridge or approaching it so closely as to be unable to stop, and in that case the bridge shall be kept closed long enough for the passage of one train and no more.
Every owner or person in charge of any vessel desiring to pass through a movable bridge over the harbor shall sound or cause to be sounded a steam whistle to signal bridge tenders to open and swing bridges, and such signal shall be three sharp, short sounds of the whistle, to be given in succession as quickly as possible and not to be prolonged, and the whistle used for this purpose shall be of suitable size to be heard.
No person, firm or corporation shall blow or cause to be blown the steam whistle of any vessel for any purpose whatever while at any wharf or dock in the City of Buffalo or when approaching or leaving such wharf or dock or when passing through any drawbridge over the harbor or when running in the harbor, except when necessary as a signal of danger and in cases and under circumstances prescribed by the laws and regulations of the United States and by the Code of the City of Buffalo.
No captain or person in charge of a vessel in the Buffalo Harbor shall permit any whistle upon such vessel to be blown except for the purpose of giving and answering signals; and no four-whistles shall be answered by any vessel while lying at the dock.
Every owner, lessee or person in possession of premises abutting on the harbor or abutting upon the channels of Buffalo River, Cazenovia Creek, Black Rock Harbor and the basins, slips and waters of the City shall at all times keep the wharves and docks on such premises in good repair and safe condition and shall at all times keep, maintain, build, alter, repair and rebuild sheeting, sheetpiling, wharfing or docking along the margin or banks of said channels, harbors and waters to prevent the obstruction of such channels and waters and to protect the banks thereof.
It shall be the duty of every person, firm or corporation, before repairing, renewing, altering or constructing any dock within the City or any sheeting, sheetpiling, wharfing or docking along the margin or banks of the channels of Buffalo River, Cazenovia Creek, Black Rock Harbor and the harbors, basins, slips and waters of the City to secure a permit therefor from the Department of Public Works, which permit shall specify the character and location of such construction, repairing, renewal or alteration. In the event of any such docking, sheeting, sheetpiling, wharfing or docking along the margin or banks of said channels, basins, slips and waters having been repaired, renewed, altered or constructed without such permit, the person, firm or corporation causing such work to be done may be required at once and at his own expense to remove the same; and in default of such removal of the same, the Commissioner of Public Works is authorized to cause such docking, sheeting, sheetpiling, wharfing or docking to be removed at the expense of the owner thereof.
The owners of a dock or wharf in and along the harbor shall make suitable and sufficiently strong mooring posts on or along the said dock or wharf to which the largest vessels may be tied up by lines or cables strong enough to hold said vessel or vessels at any and all times, especially during flood times and the movement of all floodwaters and ice.
No person, firm or corporation shall drive or place or cause to be driven or placed any pile or piles, stone, timber, earth or other obstruction of any kind whatsoever in the harbor of the City or build, construct or repair any dock therein or build or cause to be built any bridge or other structure across any portion of the harbor or drive or place or cause to be driven or placed any pile or piles of timber or make any excavation for the purpose of furnishing or laying foundation for any building or structure at any point within 40 feet of any part of the harbor without permission, in writing, from the Commissioner of Public Works so to do. Any person desiring to drive or place any pile or piles, stone, timber, earth or other obstruction or build, construct or repair any dock in the harbor or to build any bridge or other structure across the Buffalo River or any of its branches or across the City ship canal or to drive or place any pile or piles or make any excavations for the purpose of furnishing or laying foundations for any building or structure within 40 feet of the harbor shall make application, in writing, for permission so to do to the Commissioner of Public Works, furnishing with such application a sketch or plot showing the nature of the work desired to be done; and upon such application being made and such sketch or plot being furnished as herein required, the Commissioner of Public Works shall issue the permit desired, unless it shall appear that the work desired to be done will result in unduly obstructing the harbor or in endangering the safety of any dock, pier, breakwater or other structure located upon or along the harbor.
It shall be the duty of the Harbormasters to report to the City Engineer any and all encroachments upon the harbor lines as now established or which may hereafter be established, and thereupon said Harbormasters and City Engineer shall take such action as may be necessary to enforce the provisions of this chapter and to remove or cause to be removed any such obstruction or encroachment. If it shall be found that any pile, stone, timber, earth, dock, bridge or other obstruction whatever has been placed in any part of the harbor in violation of the provisions of this chapter and that the person who has placed or caused the same to be placed therein refuses or neglects to remove such obstruction upon being required so to do by the Harbormasters, City Engineer or Commissioner of Public Works, the Harbormasters, City Engineer and Commissioner of Public Works, or either of them, shall have the power and it is hereby made their duty to proceed forthwith to remove such obstruction and to charge the expense of such removal to the person, firm or corporation causing such obstruction to be placed in the harbor.
No person, firm or corporation discharging the cargo of any vessel shall suffer any part of such cargo to remain projecting over the front of any wharf after such vessel shall remove from the wharf.
No owner or master or other person in charge or command of any vessel in the harbor shall operate it or anything that it may have in tow upon, against or over any rope, chain or other fastening, mooring, dredge or other machine used by or for the City of Buffalo for deepening, widening and improving the channel of the harbor so that said dredge or other machine shall be displaced, hindered or delayed in the working thereof.
No person shall throw, discharge or deposit or cause, suffer or procure to be thrown, discharged or deposited, either from any vessel or from the shore or from any dock, pier, wharf, manufacturing establishment or mill, any refuse matter of any kind or description into any navigable water within the City of Buffalo or into any tributary to any navigable water from which the same shall float or be washed into such navigable water; and no person shall deposit or cause, suffer or procure to be deposited material of any kind in any place on the bank of any navigable water or the bank of any tributary to any navigable water where the same is likely to fall or be washed, either by fluctuations of water level or by storms or floods or otherwise, into such navigable waters whereby navigation shall or may be impeded or obstructed.
No vessel shall be moored or anchored within the harbor in such manner as to prevent the passage of any other vessel, nor shall any vessel be moved so as to run against or injure any bridge over any portion of the harbor.
Either Harbormaster may at any time order the owner or captain of any tug in the harbor to move, by means of such tug, any vessel to any place in the harbor; and the owner of the vessel receiving such assistance shall pay the person or persons, owners or captains rendering such assistance the reasonable value thereof.
The Harbormasters shall give such orders and directions relative to the location, change of place or stations of vessels, the manner of moving the same and the use of the harbor as may be necessary to promote good order and the safety and equal convenience of vessels therein.
It shall be unlawful for the owner or other person in charge of any vessel navigating the harbor to attempt to pass any bridge over any portion of it while said signal or signals are up or elevated or to approach so near to any such bridge at such time that the same may be injured or damaged or while any such bridge may be opening or closing.
Every vessel navigating the harbor, when passing any bridge or ferry, shall be moved past the same as expeditiously as is consistent with a proper movement in the harbor, but in no case shall any vessel, while passing any bridge or ferry and obstructing the passage across such bridge or ferry, move at a rate of speed less than two miles an hour. No vessel shall be so anchored or fastened as to prevent any bridge from a free and speedy opening or any ferry boat from a free and direct passage: nor shall any line or fastening be so thrown, laid or made fact as to cross the track of any bridge or ferry.
Every person, firm or corporation owning or in charge of a vessel lying in or navigating the harbor shall be respectively governed by the following further provisions:
Every vessel using steam shall have its smoke pipes so constructed and managed as to prevent sparks or coals of fire escaping therefrom.
Every vessel shall be moved slowly so as not in any case to endanger or injure other vessels and shall not approach or pass any movable bridge at a speed exceeding three miles per hour.
All vessels shall heed a slow signal given by another craft when passing.
No master or other person owning or having charge of any vessel shall leave the same in the harbor without having on board or in charge thereof some competent person to control, manage and secure the same, without first obtaining the permission of the Harbormasters.
They shall likewise have and keep out on board during the nighttime a conspicuous light and shall have extinguished or safely secured, at dark, all fires which may be kept on board.
No vessel shall be permitted to lie in the harbor adrift or insecurely fastened at any time. All vessels moored in the harbor shall be securely fastened by lines or cables strong enough to hold said vessel at any and all times and shall, in addition thereto, drop anchor while so moored, but no vessel shall be so moored or anchored as to prevent passage of any other vessel. Special precautions shall be used in tying up vessels during the winter season and during flood times and the movement of all floodwaters and ice.
Safe navigation of the Buffalo River is the sole responsibility of the Captain of each vessel. It shall be the duty of each Captain to determine if the assistance of a tug is necessary when passing a bridge over the Buffalo River.
[Added 7-20-2004, effective 8-2-2004]
No vessel laden in whole or in part with such explosives as defined in § 451 of the Labor Law shall land at or make fast to any dock or wharf within the harbors, canals and other public waters of the City or be within such harbors, canals and other public waters or discharge or take on a full or partial cargo of such explosives within said limits except in accordance with such written permissions and regulations as provided in Chapter 103 of the Code and in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United States government and the State of New York and their several agencies pertaining thereto. The Bureau of Fire Prevention is hereby authorized to prevent any vessel with such explosives on board from making fast to any wharf or dock or unloading or loading such cargo within the limits aforesaid unless proper permissions have been granted. The Harbormaster shall render such assistance as requested by the Bureau of Fire Prevention to carry out the provisions of this section. The prohibitions herein contained shall not be construed to interfere with the authorized procedures of the Armed Forces of the United States and the State of New York and the duly constituted police or fire-fighting forces of the state and its civil and political subdivisions.
It shall be unlawful for any master, owner or person in possession, charge or control of any vessel of a kind to operate, navigate, keep or maintain the same in the harbor unless the same shall have a name plainly and conspicuously displayed thereon, which shall be large enough and in such a position as to be readily distinguishable and readable on both sides or from the rear thereof for a distance of at least 500 feet, and such name shall be of such distinctive character that any such vessel of any kind may be readily identified by the same.
No person, firm or corporation shall at any time blow or cause to be blown a whistle on any vessel while lying at any wharf or dock in the City of Buffalo or when approaching or leaving such wharf or dock or when passing through any bridge draw in the City of Buffalo or when running in the harbor, unless it is necessary to the operation of said vessel.
No more than two vessels abreast shall be permitted to navigate in Buffalo Harbor, and no more than three vessels, including fireboat or tug, shall be permitted to navigate Buffalo Harbor except by permission of the Harbormaster.
The provisions of this chapter, subject to the superior authority of the State of New York and of the government of the United States, shall apply to all parts of the harbor and to the street approaches to movable bridges over any portion of said harbor, but they shall not be construed to interfere in any manner with the operation of any vessel used by the Fire Department or the Police Department of the City of Buffalo.
Any person, firm or corporation who or which shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter shall be liable to a penalty or fine of not more than $1,000. Any penalty specified in this section may be recovered by the City of Buffalo in a civil action, or, upon conviction in a court of criminal jurisdiction, a person shall be subject to the fine herein mentioned. In case any person does not immediately pay the penalty or fine imposed, he may be committed to the Erie County Penitentiary for a term not to exceed six months.
[Added 6-27-2000, effective 7-11-2000]
Unless the vessel is owned or being operated by the United States of America, the State of New York, the County of Erie or the City of Buffalo, all vessels shall be charged a docking fee at City-owned properties (including Erie Basin Marina) as outlined in Chapter 175, Fees.
[Amended 1-11-2002, effective 1-22-2002]
Any person, firm, entity or corporation docking at a City-owned property (including Erie Basin Marina) without the permission of the Commissioner of Public Works shall be punishable by a Class E fine in the amount of $105. The Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner of Public Works shall possess concurrent jurisdiction in the enforcement of this provision.
Any vessel docked at a City-owned property without permission shall be towed away by the Commissioner of Public Works, and the cost of such towing shall be charged to the owner of the vessel.