An inquiry about extending sewer lines to boathouses at the Clover Island Yacht Club has prompted a strong response from the Port of Kennewick.
Boathouses are for boats, not people. Living on boats or in boathouses is not allowed by the port or the Army Corps of Engineers.
The port leases the marina land, including submerged lands, from the Corps and in turn subleases it to the Clover Island Yacht Club. About 40 members have boathouses.
Army Corps rules and the lease expressly prohibit people from living at the marina.
The dustup began when two members approached the Kennewick city manager about extending sewer lines to their boathouses. Sewer connections would enable flushing toilets – a signal boathouse owners want to install the amenities needed to live in or near their boats.
Larry Peterson, the port’s director of planning and development, said it regularly reminds boat owners about the live-aboard rules and it is not generally a problem. But the sewer request took it to a new level that raises questions about the port’s liability for any loss of life if it didn’t enforce the rule.
The port responded with a letter to remind boat owners that they cannot live on their boats and said it will reissue it yearly instead of as the need arises.
“This was not a fight that we were looking for, but there were indications that people were looking to enhance boathouses for long-term live-aboards, possibly,” Peterson said.
Ryan Smith, incoming commodore for the yacht club, said the flap is the result of a misunderstanding. The two members who approached the city were not acting on the club’s behalf.
“We have never even thought of our boathouses being live-aboards,” he said.
The club itself agrees the marina should not be a residential community. Members prefer the come-and-go aspect of the club, he said.
Neither the board nor the members have voted to pursue sewer connections beyond the main dock, he added.
Boat owners can pump out sewage tanks at the fuel dock and elsewhere on the river. Such facilities are widely available on the river to encourage boat owners to discharge waste into city sewer systems instead of the river.
Nevertheless, the inquiry about sewers highlights a periodic challenge associated with one of the community’s most unusual real estate arrangements: Marinas.
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