Boat slips on Prior Lake

Prior Lake is considering reining in boat slips within the city.

Prior Lake City Council instructed staff to increase their enforcement of a new ordinance that limits the number of boats slips and watercraft per property after receiving 12 complaints over two days this week.

"At the start of last week we only had three complaints in and then we got 12 between Monday and Tuesday" Community Development Director Casey McCabe said during a council work session Monday. "Must have been a busy weekend on the lake."

The council passed amendments to the city's boat slip and dock ordinance in November that decreased the number of slips per feet of shoreline and reduced the number of slips at private residences from six to five.

The changes also gave the city the authority to enforce a prohibition on renting personal boat slips, allowing staff to require proof of tenancy and boat ownership to make sure residents weren't renting or hosting boats slips to people outside of the property owner's or tenant's immediate family. 

The ordinance doesn’t apply to 13 of the city’s lakeshore homeowners associations, which have a combined right to 424 slips.

McCabe said to date the city has received 15 complaints about violations of the city's ordinance. In council discussions about the ordinance changes in November city staff said they received about 13 complaints in total last year. 

Currently city staff are sending letters to properties with complaints asking for residents to confirm their watercraft's registration. To date three verification letters have been sent. 

McCabe said two of the properties that have received letters from city staff are being used as rental properties and one of the properties was advertising dock space. He added that "a number" of the 15 complaints are likely to be violations. 

If residents are in violation of the ordinance they will receive a notice of violation from the city's code enforcement officer Dale Stefanisko. Unresolved violations can result in a misdemeanor citation, court appearance and a fine.

Council member Kevin Burkart offered to take Stefanisko out on his boat for compliance inspections and to check boat registrations for any watercraft involved in a complaint.

Staff hope this will allow them to just send a notice of violation instead of a preliminary inquiry about boat registration.

Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs said he's familiar with several of the properties with complaints, calling them "frequent fliers" who violate boating ordinances year after year. He said he would like the city to step up its violation notices so that citizens see clearly that the city is working on the issue.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the change in the number of slips allowed at private residences. The number dropped from six to five. 

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