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North Carolina town bans airboats


Yesterday the town of Sunset Beach N.C. banned airboats. The town sits on the intercoastal waterway and Atlantic Ocean. Council’s decision was based on complaints around 1 airboat owner. I have boated in this area for many years. The ICW has a great variety of crafts including jet skis, cigarette boats and boats with loud 2 cycle outboards, many of which have higher decibel ratings than many airboats.

I don’t own an airboat. But I have concerns about government overreach. If a town can ban one type of recreational vehicle based on a few citizen complaints where will they stop?

Further I don’t think a town can ban or enforce traffic on the intercoastal or the county boat ramp.

If you want to send comments to the town on this their email is publiccomments@sunsetbeachnc.gov.

Not sure what the Sunset Beach ordinance says, but you and other airboaters in Sunset Beach might want to read the forum posts under Alachua County Airboat Ordinace, started by Smokster. There are links to and information on the arguments raised for and against the Alachua County Ordinance banning airboats during the night. Some may apply to your situation. There also may be some other state and federal restrictions on the Sunset ban because the intercostal waterway is navigable.

Good luck!
After the dust clears on the Alachua County Ordinance appeal, if the Order declaring it unconstitutional is ultimately affirmed (its on appeal at the Circuit Court level, and could still end up at the District Court of Appeal, and possibly even the Florida Supreme Court), it'd be interesting to see if the Sarasota Ordinance is similar enough to apply the same arguments if someone want to challenge it. If the Sarasota Ordinance is different, and would otherwise be considered constitutional, look for Alachua County (and perhaps other counties) to copy it if they want to pursue the ban on airboats.
Nccoaster said:
Sunset Beach N.C. banned airboats. The town sits on the intercoastal waterway and Atlantic Ocean.

The ICW is US Navigable Water...

Navigable servitude:
Navigable servitude is a doctrine in United States Constitutional Law that gives the federal government the right to regulate navigable waterways as an extension of the Commerce Clause in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution.

§ 329.7 Intrastate or interstate nature of waterway.
A waterbody may be entirely within a state, yet still be capable of carrying interstate commerce. This is especially clear when it physically connects with a generally acknowledged avenue of interstate commerce, such as the ocean or one of the Great Lakes, and is yet wholly within one state. Nor is it necessary that there be a physically navigable connection across a state boundary. Where a waterbody extends through one or more states, but substantial portions, which are capable of bearing interstate commerce, are located in only one of the states, the entirety of the waterway up to the head (upper limit) of navigation is subject to Federal jurisdiction.

Constitution of the United States: :old_glory:
Article I, Section 8 Commerce
Article III, Section 2 Maritime Jurisdiction
Article VI, Section 2 Supremacy

Contact US Coast Guard Sector NC