State

A marina chained his luxury boat to the dock. Now he wants to make that illegal.

State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan, a Republican who represents part of Madison County, did not pay annual taxes that local officials said were due on his 112-foot long houseboat. The boat was docked on Lake Cumberland in Pulaski County.
State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan, a Republican who represents part of Madison County, did not pay annual taxes that local officials said were due on his 112-foot long houseboat. The boat was docked on Lake Cumberland in Pulaski County. bestep@herald-leader.com

A measure pending in a House committee would repeal a rule that cost a state representative access to his luxury houseboat for a time after he allegedly did not pay fees to a marina.

The legislator, Republican Rep. C. Wesley Morgan of Richmond, is a co-sponsor of House Bill 183, which is more broadly aimed at making sure owners of houseboats pay their property taxes.

But one part of the bill would address a situation that has Morgan involved in litigation.

Under current law, a marina operator trying to collect alleged unpaid rental fees can place a lien on a houseboat and keep the owner from moving it.

Morgan once had his houseboat moored at Lee’s Ford Marina Resort in Pulaski County. The owner, J.D. Hamilton, alleged that Morgan had not paid slip-rental fees and a sales commission and filed a lien against the boat.

Morgan sued Lee’s Ford, arguing that the marina had illegally placed a lien on the boat and chained it to the dock. He denied he had not paid slip-rental fees

The lawmaker had agreed to sell the boat in July 2016 for $350,000 but the deal fell through after Hamilton chained the boat, Morgan said in a court document.

Morgan posted a bond last year of more than $160,000 — equal to twice the amount Hamilton’s lawyer said Morgan would owe if he loses the case — to regain access to the boat.

HB 183 would bar a marina from interfering with a boat owner’s right to take possession of a vessel and move it.

Morgan unsuccessfully sponsored a bill in 2017 that would have done the same thing.

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