Bill to protect dock owners makes its way through Missouri Senate

Joyce Miller
Lake of the Ozarks.

A bill to make it illegal to wander upon private docks and anchor too close is making its way through the Missouri Senate. 

Sponsored by Sen. Justin Brown, R-Rolla, Senate Bill 49 received a unanimous vote from members of the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee. 

This proposed legislation prohibits boats/watercraft from being anchored in a manner that positions the vessel within 100 feet of a permitted boat dock, unless authorized by the boat dock permit holder. The legislation also provides that no person shall secure a boat/watercraft to or enter upon a private permitted boat dock unless authorized to do so by the boat dock permit holder, or as specified in the act. Violators would be written up for an infraction. 

The bill also specifies that operating or positioning a boat/watercraft in a manner that obstructs or impedes the normal flow of traffic can also be cited as an infraction, rather than a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense or a Class B misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense.

On Lake of the Ozarks, the problem with anchoring to close to docks is becoming more and more of an issue with the number of boats that anchor in coves all over the lake. The dock owners can’t just pick up and leave, unlike the boaters, so they need some protection under the law to protect their rights as property owners. give them a little breathing room.  

Docks also don’t fall under the trespassing statute. The bill will give dock owners some protections. Technically, unless a dock is deeded a very certain way, it is not considered real property and therefore it’s not illegal for someone to go onto another person’s dock. Docks and equipment on docks are very expensive, so obviously that shouldn’t be allowed.  

Brown filed the bill after numerous requests were made to his office over the last two years.

The Missouri Highway Patrol and Ameren Missouri testified at the committee hearing. 

Ameren Missouri considers permitted boat docks at the Lake of the Ozarks private property. Their federally approved shoreline management plan follows those guidelines. Ameren said they would be working with others at the Lake of the Ozarks and in Jefferson City on this issue.