Commercial dock use issue re-surfaces

Council directs City Administrator to look into damage, conflicts

by Marianne Gasaway

One year after it passed an ordinance limiting commercial use on its new city dock at the end of Main Avenue, the Clear Lake City Council has asked City Administrator Scott Flory to explore the possibility of prohibiting commercial use of all public accesses and all public docks.

At-Large Councilman Gary Hugi raised the issue near the conclusion of Monday night’s Council meeting.  He received unanimous approval from the other four members of the Council to have Flory look into the issue.

“It has become quite clear that the legacy, integrity and use of the Main Street dock by a commercial business is not only incapatible, 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.”

With boating season barely underway, Hugi said a conflict concerning access to the dock during a public event had already come to light.  He said a commercial business took issue with the two-day Walleye Classic, which had been granted a street closure request by the City Council.

Councilman Bennett Smith said he had no problem with Flory studying the issue, but was inclined to give the ordinance passed by the city in April 2020 time to see how it works.

“My perspective has always been that we need to preserve incidental commercial use on that dock, but I think there’s a balance to that,” said Smith.  “I know that when we do have an ordinance, if there’s a violation of that we can address it and deal with those issues.”

Smith said public response to the new dock has been overwhelmingly positive and he recognizes the city will have costs associated with its upkeep.  However, he said he agreed with Hugi that if commercial use becomes “so aggregious that it is damaging the dock or impacting other events” he would approve of Flory, city staff, the chief of police, or others studying the issue.

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