[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Meeting of the Town of Belchertown as indicated in article histories. Amendments noted where applicable.]
[Adopted 5-11-2015 ATM by Art. 17]
This article is adopted as authorized by MGL c. 90B, § 15, which permits municipal regulation of motorboats on the waters of the commonwealth by a bylaw, subject to the approval of said bylaw by the Director of the Office of Law Enforcement of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
The purpose of this article is to protect the public health and safety of persons using the lakes, ponds, and rivers 10 acres or more in size within the Town, by requiring the safe operation of motorboats on those water bodies. The article seeks to ensure that motorboats are operated in a safe and courteous manner that respects other uses of those water bodies and avoids the risk of injury to persons or property.
The requirements of this article are in addition to, and are to be applied in a manner consistent with, the requirements of other federal and state statutes and regulations pertaining to the operation of motorboats on public water bodies in the Town, including 33 U.S.C §§ 2001 through 2073, and 33 CFR Part 83, and MGL c. 90B, §§ 1 through 19 and 323 CMR 2.01 through 2.15.
For purposes of this article, the following definitions shall apply (See 323 CMR 2.02 for additional definitions.):
- HEADWAY SPEED
- The minimum speed at which a vessel may be operated and maintain steerage way, but not to exceed six miles per hour.
- Any vessel propelled by machinery, whether or not such machinery is the principal source of propulsion.
Operators of motorboats must proceed in a safe and courteous manner, always keep a proper lookout, and maintain safe speed.
No person shall operate a motorboat at a speed greater than is reasonable and proper, having regard to the lives and safety of the public; the state of visibility; the traffic density; the maneuverability of the vessel; the state of wind, water, and current; and the proximity of navigational hazards. In no case shall a person operate a motorboat at a rate of speed exceeding 35 miles per hour, unless otherwise specified herein.
Motorboats shall give the right-of-way to any oar-propelled boat, any boat proceeding under sail, and/or any anchored vessel.
Motorboats meeting head-on on opposite courses shall be operated as to pass each other on the left or port side. When boats approach each other obliquely, or at right angles, the boat approaching on the right has the right-of-way.
No motorboat shall be operated at a speed creating an excessive wash or wake so as to interfere with the operation of other water craft, to endanger swimmers or damage property and the lake shore. The wake should not rock excessively other boats, docks, etc. The wake is considered a part of the boat and the operator is responsible for any interference, damage or injury caused by the wake.
No person shall operate a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Motorboats are not allowed to operate on any water bodies under 15 acres in area.
Motorboats with trolling motors shall be permitted on Lake Arcadia. Motorboats with internal combustion engines shall be prohibited.
[Amended 5-9-2016 ATM by Art. 21]
Minimum distance for operation.
Motorboats shall not be operated (a) at a distance of less than 150 feet of shoreline which is being used as a swimming area, whether public or private, or (b) within 75 feet of the boundary of a public or private swimming beach, if designated by markers, floats, or otherwise.
Operation at headway speed.
No person shall operate a motorboat at a rate of speed in excess of headway speed:
When leaving the shore or approaching a landing place.
At a distance of less than 150 feet from any marina, boat-launching facility, canoe, kayak, raft, float, or swimmer.
At a distance of less than 300 feet from a shoreline being used as a swimming area or bathing beach, whether public or private.
When the operator's vision is obscured by a bridge, a bend or curve in the waterway, or any other reason.
Any motorboat towing a person or persons on waterskis or aquaplane shall be occupied by at least two persons age 12 or older, one of whom shall give full attention to the operation of the boat, and the other shall give full attention to the safety of the person or persons being towed.
The length of the ski-rope shall not exceed 75 feet.
Waterskiing is prohibited between sunset and sunrise.
Littering and control of vegetation.
Littering or throwing trash from a boat into a water body is prohibited.
Weeds and vegetation must be cleaned off engine propellers, trailers, and boat exteriors before launching motorboats, and cleaned off again when leaving the water body. Weeds shall be disposed of in trash barrels or on dry land away from the water body.
No person shall operate a winter recreational vehicle on a frozen water body, over 10 acres in size, unless the ice has a thickness of at least six inches.
No person shall operate a winter recreational vehicle on a frozen water body, over 10 acres in size, within 150 feet of an occupied residence without the permission of the owner or tenant of such residence, except in cases of emergency or when directly departing from or returning to such residence.
The provisions of this article shall be enforced by the Town Police and by the Board of Selectmen and its agents or designees, which may issue violation notices and enforcement orders, and may pursue all civil and criminal remedies for such violations.
A person violating any of the provisions of this article or an order issued thereunder shall be subject to a fine not exceeding $50 for each such violation.
As an alternative to criminal prosecution or civil action, the Town may elect to utilize the noncriminal disposition procedure set forth in MGL c. 40, § 21D, and Article II, § 1-2, of the Town Bylaws, in which case the enforcing person shall be any Town police officer or the Board of Selectmen and its agents or designees. For noncriminal disposition, the penalty shall be $50 for each violation. Each day or part thereof that such violation occurs or continues shall constitute a separate offense.