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Lake Minnetonka residents at odds over lowering speed limits


Some homeowners on Lake Minnetonka are hoping to restrict the speed limit in a popular area of the lake.

The Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LMCD) received a petition for a "quiet water area" in parts of Harrisons Bay and West Arm. It would take up about 85 acres near homes in Spring Park, Orono and Mound, and would be bordered by an existing quiet water area on Seton Channel.

In quiet water areas, boats and other watercraft can't go over 5 mph or over minimum wake, according to the LMCD. Quiet water areas are established for public safety and/or environmental concerns, LMCD's policy says.

Supporters of the quiet water area say the proposed area is more of an extended channel than it is a bay, and increased traffic and boats going at high speeds have led to an erosion problem for homeowners in the area. The petition also says it will make the area safer for homeowners, swimmers and boaters.

Randy Bickmann, one of the authors of the petition, told FOX 9 they don't allow their grandkids to swim in front of their house anymore because of the waves that come in off the speeding boats.

"Boats are supposed to obey the 150-foot rule from shoreline or swimmer – they come and pass by the end of my dock here, 20 to 30 feet from my dock, and they're doing that at 30-40 mph," he said.

However, people who oppose the restriction have created a counter petition.

They say there are too many quiet water areas on the lake already, and the proposed region is near lengthy slow zones. They also say the proposal would add the time it takes many boaters to get to the popular boat-up restaurant, Lord Fletcher's – the restaurant saw a loss of business over the summer when boat speeds on the entire lake were limited due to record high-water levels.

“The way I see it, the petitioners had a summer of no-wake and liked it and are trying to keep it that way,” Ed Rockwell, who started the counter petition, told the Star Tribune. “In our opinion, just leave the lake the way it is.”

Both sides are expected to pack the Nov. 12 LMCD meeting on the issue. Greg Nybeck, executive director of LMCD told the newspaper the proposal is "a pretty substantial request in this area."

If passed, this new proposal would make the first quiet water area added to the lake since 2008, FOX 9 reports. The first quiet water area was established on Lake Minnetonka in the early 1970s and now there are several quiet water areas scattered around the lake (click here for a detailed list).

The LMCD board could vote on the proposal by Dec. 10, and if approved it would go into effect next spring.

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