In May, following complaints from residents about noise, rowdiness and public nuisance, the Irondequoit Town Board adopted amendments to the town's boating ordinance that state that boats must stay at least 300 off shore from a strip of homes in Sea Breeze, from about the Irondequoit Bay outlet to Lake Bluff Drive, and may not raft or tether together.
Boaters in an alliance called Restore Public Waters in Rochester have raised more than $5,000 for attorney's fees, hired attorney Alan J. Knauf of Knauf and Shaw LLP to represent them, and on July 6 officially filed a lawsuit in State Supreme Court. Total costs are expected to be a minimum of $9,000 and a maximum of $14,000.
The Notice of Petition asks that the court "vacate, annul, declare illegal, unconstitutional, invalid, null and/or void Irondequoit's (new) boating ordinance," and that it "temporarily and permanently enjoin and/or stay enforcement of the ordinance." The lawsuit also asks for reimbursement of attorney fees and "further relief as the court deems just and proper."
On October 24, 2012, the Democrat & Chronicle reported that "The Town of Irondequoit's new boating law was in State Supreme Court last Thursday, but quickly ran up on procedural shoals. The town contended the group has no legal standing to bring the case forward."
"There was also a question of who, besides the town and boaters group, is an essential party to the case. The town contended the suit should be thrown out because the residents living close to the disputed area were not included. Alan Knauf, the attorney representing the boaters, said he would reluctantly include (i.e., sue) them as well."
How is navigating a boat or watercraft on the public waters of Lake Ontario different from driving a car or riding a motorcycle on a public highway? On the water, Monroe County Sheriffs hand you the citation from a boat. On the road, the same Sheriffs write it up in a patrol car. No change in jurisdiction or who gets to pocket the fine.
What if we replaced the boats in the photo with cars and motorcycles? Now picture 200-300 revelers having a block party every rain-free Saturday and Sunday on the quiet residential street in front of your house. Not a rich man's McMansion, just a condo-sized 1,528 square feet of living space for which you pay $10,424.31 in annual property taxes. Even if the noon-to-dusk festivities didn't regularly spill over onto your lawn but you and your pre-schoolers were forced to listen to hours of pounding music and gutter language for two days straight every weekend, should anyone with the least bit of sense be taken aback that you asked your town to intervene on your behalf?
Every human activity has limits, things we can't or shouldn't do. The Constitution guarantees us the right to keep and bear arms. It doesn't extend that right to where we can tow a howitzer behind our pickup truck or go duck hunting with a bazooka.