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Clear Lake council approves reviewing dock ordinance passed last year

CLEAR LAKE — Clear Lake city leaders are once again looking into the issue of commercial use of the city’s new dock at the end of Main Avenue at the Sea Wall.

The council last year approved an ordinance that allowed incidental commercial use of the dock, such as embarking and disembarking of passengers, as long as it did not exceed 30 minutes per watercraft. The ordinance also stated that a watercraft or vessel may not be tied or moored to the dock for more than three continuous hours, which included a rented commercial watercraft.

Councilman Gary Hugi brought up the issue at the end of last week’s City Council meeting. “It has become quite clear that the legacy, integrity, and use of the Main Street dock by a commercial business is not only incompatible, it is more importantly affecting the longevity of the new dock, which has been a substantial investment by the city. Our public accesses and public docks could easily be in jeopardy of becoming a financial burden.”

Hugi cited a conflict raised by a commercial business taking issue with the two-day Walleye Classic earlier this month, as the event had been granted a street closure request by the council.

Councilman Bennett Smith says he has no issue with city leaders further looking into the issue, but would like to see more time given to see if the ordinance works.   “My perspective has always been that we need to preserve incidental commercial use on that dock. I think there’s a balance to that. I know that when we do have an ordinance, if there’s a violation of that, we can address that and deal with those issues. It’s quite an attraction. I’ve been down there this spring and people really love that dock.”

Smith respects Hugi’s concerns about the city’s investment in the new dock, but adds there will be upkeep costs on the dock whether or not there’s changes in the ordinance.  “We’ve put some real time, energy and money into it, and we do want to preserve it, but I think from my perspective, I love the fact that a lot of people are using it. I think it will involve some ongoing costs on our part to maintain it, but I think it’s well worth it. Yet at the same time, as Gary I think is getting at here, if we have commercial use that becomes so egregious that it’s damaging the dock or impacting other events, then I think it’s fine with me to have Scott or our staff, chief of police and others, study that issue.”

The council gave its unanimous support to have City Administrator Scott Flory look further into the issue and bring it to the table in the near future.

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