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Regulation impedes the removal of Charlotte Harbor derelict boats

Abandoned and neglected boats that have been left behind at the Charlotte Harbor. The massive eyesores have been there for months following a storm that rolled through in December.

It could be months before what is left of the boats gets removed.

If you visit Charlotte Harbor front on a weekday afternoon, you may run into Sheri Berntsson. One may wonder why she is staring at the water from her red Cadillac.

“I am in a wheelchair,” Berntsson said. “I cannot get in the sand and here I can pull my car up and be right close to the water.”

Berntsson escapes to her local oasis three days a week, which is plagued by four derelict boats along the riverfront.

It is getting closer to low tide, so it is easier to see these derelict boats in the water. But boaters may not be as lucky during high tide.

Florida Fish and Wildlife said removing the boats is an extremely lengthy process.

First, FWC has to open an investigation to find out who owns the boat, which could take months if it is not registered correctly. Then, the owner gets weeks to decide if he or she will remove the boat, request a hearing or let it sit, which is a misdemeanor. The owner will have 45 more days to take action.

If nothing is done, a local water safety group will find a company to remove the boat, which could take even more time. The cost falls on taxpayers.

The entire process is a hefty price tag for safety. The FWC said it can cost up to $10,000 to remove a boat depending on the size.

“Don’t leave your boats here and make us pay to get rid of them,” Berntsson said.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
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