The governor of Alabama signed into law a controversial bill that bans or restricts large vessels and new houseboats from three lakes in the eastern end of the state.
Gov. Bob Riley says the measure is designed to improve safety and the quality of life on Lake Harris, Lake Martin and Weiss Lake, according to local news reports. Legislators had overwhelmingly approved the bill.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association and local boating interest groups lobbied against the bill. Opponents argued the measure was rushed through the legislature without the benefit of public debate. They also say the bill benefits developers who want to build luxury homes on the lakes, and unfairly targets a segment of boaters.
Effective Oct. 1, the legislation bans boats longer than 26 feet, 11 inches that can go more than 60 miles per hour.
After July 1, 2007, houseboats are banned from the lakes. However, those that are in use this year, as of July 1, are exempt. They also are eligible for an annual state permit, providing they meet standards for sewage disposal.
The legislation also prohibits new large vessels from using the lakes. Boats longer than 30 feet, 6 inches would be banned after July 1, 2007, unless they were in use or available for sale at a marina on one of the three lakes as of July 1 this year. The exception does not apply to go-fast boats. Sailboats are exempt from the restrictions.
Violators would be fined up to $1,000; first-time offenders would get warning citations.