No-Wake zone proposed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2008

WINTON – The dangers of speeding boats prompted one Harrellsville citizen to speak out.

Paul Bergman, who lives in Taylor’s Landing Subdivision along the Wiccacon River, spoke before the Hertford County Commissioners here during their regular meeting Monday morning.

He requested that the commissioners support him in his efforts to implement a no-wake zone along a 1,150-foot stretch of the river.

&uot;Recently there have been numerous boats out here speeding past and there are two families who live along the waterfront with children and they live here year-round,&uot; Bergman told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in a later phone interview.

He continued, &uot;They (the families) like using the water, on rafts and swimming and such… I’ve talked to all the people who live here and we’re all in agreement; they would all like to see a no wake-zone here for the safety of the kids and themselves and guests.&uot;

The Wiccacon, formed from the Ahoskie Creek and several other creeks, is about 130 feet wide in the area in which Bergman resides, located seven miles from the Chowan River.

Considered a deep river for its size at 20-40 feet, the Wiccacon is a tributary of the Chowan and is navigable for a total of 15 miles in all.

During Monday’s meeting, the commissioners agreed to support Bergman and move forward in the process of getting the no-wake zone in place.

&uot;It’s a long process… next we have to hold a public hearing and then it’s sent to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission for investigation and a recommendation to a state committee,&uot; explained County Manager Loria Williams.

She added, &uot;Eventually hopefully it will end up in a session of the North Carolina General Assembly for the legislators to either approve or deny.&uot;

Bergman’s plan includes a no-wake zone 800 feet upstream from the subdivision and another 350 feet downstream from the bend in the river.

That would most likely mean three no-wake buoys being placed along the route to warn boaters of the new rules.

Anyone caught violating the no-wake zone could face fines or other penalties.

Bergman claims that there are more boaters in the Wiccacon this year compared to last and says that is the reason property owners finally decided to take action.

The neighborhood also houses the one and only boat landing for the entire river, so boaters are constantly coming and going, according to Bergman.

A no-wake zone would mean that boaters must slow down considerably when passing the area or else stay far to the other side of the buoys marking the zone.

However, in an area along the river that is the small width of the one in question, there would likely be no room for the latter option, so passing boaters would have to reduce their speed.

A public hearing will be set regarding the matter at a later meeting of the Hertford County Commissioners.