The ordinance, which will go into effect next year, limits boating speeds to 5 mph within 300 feet of shoreline
A new ordinance meant to limit wakes from boats has been approved by the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District’s board of directors.
The board, during its Aug. 10 meeting, voted to approve a code amendment that will implement a 5 mph speed limit on all boats within 300 feet of shoreline beginning next year, extending the current restriction of 150 feet. The 5 mph speed limit within any swim area, diving flag, dock or anchored watercraft will remain at 150 feet as per current code.
During their previous meeting on July 27, the board considered a draft ordinance for an overall 300-foot limit, but ultimately revised the draft after comments from board members and the public that indicated a preference for the extended limit to pertain only to the shoreline.
The question of whether or not to impose tougher restrictions follows the increased popularity of wakesurfing on Lake Minnetonka. The sport requires boats designed to create a wake large enough to surf on without the use of a tow rope.
In her report to the board, Lake Minnetonka Conservation District Executive Director Vickie Schleuning explained that many community members have expressed concerns about the large wakes created by boats such as wakesurf boats and large cruisers on the lake.
“These wakes make it difficult for people with small watercrafts, including kayaks and canoes, to use the lake safely. Wakes close to shorelines also damage property, Lake Minnetonka’s environment and contribute to shoreline erosion. At the same time, we have heard from other community members who believe boats, like wakesurf boats, are a great recreational outlet and have a right to be on the lake,” Schleuning wrote. “Lake Minnetonka is one of the busiest lakes in our state, and it is important to balance the competing uses to help make sure everyone can use it safely.”
Schleuning’s report also noted that maps have been developed to highlight the change and overall impact to the use of the lake. There are also two buoys, one located just within 150 feet and another at 300 feet as measured from the end of the dock, at the public launch at Surfside Park in Mound.
“If you are interested in viewing the distances on the lake, we recommend visiting the launch site,” Schleuning wrote.
The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District has been working in recent months to gather public comments regarding whether or not to modify the current rules regarding wakes.
Several residents also spoke at the most recent meeting, with some contending that the board should take more time before voting on an ordinance.
“One thing I would ask is that everybody just slow down,” said Travis Anderson, who lives on Lake Minnetonka.
One board member who agreed with the sentiment was Ben Brandt, who suggested that any decision be tabled until the next meeting, adding that, “Part of my hesitation to vote on the option tonight is I’m disappointed that we don’t have any formal comment from water patrol.”
A motion was then made to table the ordinance discussion to the next meeting, but it failed after only receiving four votes in favor.
“I don’t feel like we’ve rushed this,” said board member Mike Kirkwood. “I think we’ve been working on it for many months anticipating the concerns of both parties and interests ... and had many fine inputs from the public already. I don’t think we’re anywhere outside of our obligation in ... going forward with it. I think the time is now to make the vote.”
The board then moved to approve the ordinance for a 5 mph speed limit on all boats within 300 feet of shore while maintaining the 150-foot distance in the existing code from any swim area, diving flag, dock and anchored watercraft. The decision was made on a 10-2 vote, with board members Brandt and Deborah Zorn voting against the motion. Member Mark Kroll abstained from the vote and Bill Cook was absent from the meeting.
The new rule will officially go into effect Jan. 1, 2023, giving the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District a few months to help inform lake users about the new rule before the waters open up and the boating season begins.
For more information, visit lmcd.org/safety/safety-boat-generated-wakes.
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