Waconia puts freeze on placement of permanent docks

By Staff Reports

The Waconia City Council has approved a one-year moratorium on the construction of permanent docks or boatlifts on Lake Waconia and other public waters within the city.

The council met in an emergency session on Thursday, July 20, after the city was informed that a landowner was planning to install a permanent dock on his lakefront property. There are currently no such residential structures on Lake Waconia.

According to city documents, a homeowner had provided plans to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources indicating the homeowner’s intention of installing a dock off of their property. According to city documents, the city was informed that the property owner had “stockpiled on the property in question materials for the construction of a permanent dock.” City officials felt an urgency to act on the matter, as there was a concern that the dock could be built within days – something that could affect any city action going forward.

Currently, the city does not regulate docks or boatlifts – the DNR handles regulations on waterways within the city’s shoreland overlay district. The DNR does require permitting for docks under certain circumstances, but does not require permits for docks

State statute does allow Minnesota cities to regulate surface water use – including docks – for waterways either wholly or partially within a city’s zoning regulation authority. For Waconia, that includes Lake Waconia, Burandt Lake, Hilks Lake, Reitz Lake, an unnamed lake and Carver Creek.

The issue of permanent dock structures on Lake Waconia was brought before the city planning commission on March 2. At that time, the Waconia Landing Homeowners Association brought a proposed ordinance to the planning commission that would regulate the placement of all residential docks and boat lifts within city limits. The proposed ordinance would also have legally defined a property owner’s riparian zone, which would then place regulations on where property owners could locate a dock.

Jason Dock spoke against the proposal at that meeting. Dock, a member of the Waconia Landing Homeowners Association, said he was unsure why the association was requesting the change, according to city documents. Dock said he was under the impression that only a resident could request an amendment to an ordinance and was unaware that the homeowners association could request it.

Many of Dock’s neighbors, though, were all for the proposed regulations. In all, more than 10 residents spoke in favor of the city adopting the language presented in the proposal.

For now, the moratorium will allow the city to study the issue of regulating or restricting dock and boatlift structures on the lake before making a final decision.