Nanny State of the Week: Too much summer fun on New Jersey lakes

Kevin Glass
Posted: Jan 09, 2017 12:09 PM
Nanny State of the Week: Too much summer fun on New Jersey lakes
Part 110 of 110 in the series Nanny State of the Week
Courtesy of Flickr user John.

TOO CROWDED: Lakefront property owners on Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey are pushing rules that will keep the public off the water.

Restrictive rules being proposed for five lakes in New Jersey, including the largest body of freshwater in the state, could have a huge impact on tourism and summer fun.

Some of the proposals come at the request of lakefront residents who claim their properties are being subjected to too many unwelcome visitors.

According to the New Jersey Daily Record, some of the proposals include prohibiting boat anchoring within 200 yards of shore, and limitations on rafts and tubes tethered to the boats. They would also crack down on how long tow lines for waterskiers can be and the times that waterskiing is permitted.

Lake Hopatcong, about 45 miles northwest of New York City, is one of the most popular lake destinations in New Jersey and, along with Lake Mohawk, Lake Grinnell, Cranberry Lake and Paulinskill Lake, could see its popularity as a destination diminish if the anti-fun contingent gets its way.

As the Daily Record reported,

While the rule would exist to spare homeowners from excessive noise, opponents of the proposal say it will prevent fisherman from anchoring where they are most likely to find fish.

According to the proposal by the New Jersey Boat Regulation Commission, a subsidiary of the state Motor Vehicle Commission, the law was created in consultation with State Police Marine Services Bureau and comes at the request of citizens who own property alone Lake Hopatcong’s shores, particularly along Byram Cove.

In 2014, residents near the western shore of Lake Hopatcong, fed up with noise, overcrowding and pollution that they attributed to a group known as the Byram Cove Party, went to meetings of the Lake Hopatcong Commission and Hopatcong Borough Council to voice their concerns.

The rules are governed by the Boat Regulation Commission, which will meet Jan. 11 to discuss the proposals.

Lake Hopatcong historically served as a resort lake, with a popular yacht club and amusement park drawing tourists from New Jersey and neighboring New York.

In recent decades, however, it has turned more residential. But even as more private homes were built, it still remained popular with the public.

Lake Hopatcong has multiple docks and a state park for public access, swimming, boating, and waterskiing. It’s also one of the few lakes in New Jersey that has bars and restaurants accessible by boat, clearly catering to a recreational crowd.

The only problem is that it’s become too popular.

These proposed restrictions aren’t being posed in the name of safety or environmental protection, the usual grounds on which nanny-staters base their proposals (whatever the real reasons might be).

This time they’re more up front: The restrictions on use are simply to serve the aesthetic pleasure of lakefront property owners.

“It’s just a way to push the boaters away from Byram Cove to some other part of the lake and most likely annoy other lakefront homeowners,” Scott Carter, a Lake Hopatcong recreation enthusiast, said in the Daily Record story.