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How is it legal to build and sell docks on public waters?

Judy Royal

When it comes to boat slips, do you often wonder what people are paying for? It seems odd that someone would have to buy a spot in the water, which belongs to everyone.

Actually, what boat slip owners are paying for is an interest in the marina facility and/or the upland property. They do not own or obtain title to the public trust land under the water, said Michele Walker, public information officer for the N.C. Division of Coastal Management.

Here’s what else she had to say:

“If it is a commercial marina (in other words, is in the business of selling or renting slips), located over state owned submerged public lands (and not located in an upland basin that has been dug out and connected to public trust waters), then an easement is required from the N.C. Department of Administration’s State Property Office.  We coordinate with the SPO during our permit review process so that we will know if an easement is needed. If the marina is located in an upland basin, then the water bottom is not public trust submerged land, so no easement is needed.”

Click here to find out more about the easement process.

User-contributed question by:
Tom Strickland

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