Closing the Shoreline: The Conversion of Marina and Boatyard Properties to Private Residential Development in the Northeastern United States

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Marine Affairs

First Advisor

Robert Thompson


Marinas and boatyards are hubs of waterfront activity that provide a range of essential services to boaters and to coastal communities. However, anecdotal evidence suggests a recent trend in which marina and boatyard properties are being converted to private residential developments. Such conversions may be considered a policy problem because marinas and boatyards are water dependent uses which both require and provide water access, and as such should be given priority under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972. Further, many such facilities are working waterfronts which are widely considered to have economic, social, and cultural value. This study examines the “conversion problem” in the five northeastern states between Massachusetts and New Jersey in an effort to determine the scope of such conversions in this region and how policymakers are responding to this “problem.” To investigate this “problem,” researcher conducted interviews with staff from each of the five state coastal management agencies. The researcher also interviewed staff from each of the five state marine trade associations, and reviewed a news clipping archive maintained by a national marine industry group. Study results show that while conversions may be a problem in this region, state coastal management agencies did not have sufficient information with which to answer this question. Study results further illustrate that there are insufficient mechanisms in place through which coastal managers can monitor and respond to conversions and other similar coastal land use trends. Accordingly, this study concludes with recommendations of strategies through which coastal management agencies could monitor conversions and other such coastal land use change.

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