Moderator Sherman Hutchins looks out on the Dedham town meeting as residents hold up their voters cards on Thursday, June 16, 2022. Town meeting passed a moratorium on houseboats. Credit: Ethan Genter / BDN

The days of houseboats on Green Lake could be numbered after Dedham voters passed a moratorium on the structures Thursday night.

Worried about their potential proliferation on the town’s lakes, town meeting readily approved the moratorium, which halts any local approvals for houseboats or other floating domiciles that stay on the water long-term.

Houseboats can still temporarily anchor in Dedham waters, but for no longer than four hours.

The vote comes after a floating structure was used as a hang-out spot for a pair of locals on Green Lake for the past two summers, drawing the ire of shorefront property in Ellsworth. Green Lake stretches between Ellsworth and Dedham.

Concerns that houseboats could adversely affect access to the town’s waters, disrupt nearby property owners and hurt the ecology of local lakes were all cited as reasons for the moratorium.

The moratorium appeared to pass unanimously with no discussion on Thursday at the town meeting.

The moratorium temporarily bans officials from issuing any permits, zoning approvals and various permits for any type of houseboat, barge, float or watercraft that is designed for overnight use. The town now has 180 days to work on potential regulations for houseboats. It does not apply to docks, piers or floats used by shoreland owners.

The town at the western edge of Hancock County isn’t the only municipality weighing tighter restrictions.

Ellsworth is also considering clamping down on houseboats and a draft ordinance on overnight moorings is expected to be discussed by the city council meeting next week.