Residents disagree on Thurston County's proposed rules for Lake St. Clair

lpemberton@theolympian.comDecember 10, 2013 

Last month, K.D. Seeley and her spouse hauled 138 sandbags to protect their property on Lake St. Clair from flooding. Each sandbag weighed about 40 pounds, she said.

“It nearly killed us,” Seeley told the Thurston County Commissioners during a public hearing Tuesday on proposed regulations for the lake.

“...I appreciate that people want to recreate –- I want them to recreate –- but not at the loss of our home.”

About 15 people shared concerns on a proposed resolution that would continue emergency no-wake zones and a 5 mph speed limit when the lake’s water levels are above 69.5 feet.

Officials began looking into the issue when property owners expressed concerns about shoreline erosion of their properties caused by high water and waves from recreational boating, said county permit coordinator Rich Doenges. The emergency regulations were adopted a year ago and are set to expire by the end of the month, according to county manager Cliff Moore.

On Tuesday, several people said they were in favor of making the restrictions permanent. A few folks, including Seeley, said they would like stricter regulations on the types of boats or recreational activities allowed on the lake.

“This high water has real costs for the people who live on the lake,” said resident Shannon Hagen, whose dad built on the lake in 1962. “In order for me to repair these bulkheads, that’s $50,000. I don’t want to pay $50,000 for someone else’s recreation.”

But some residents said they were concerned that permanent or stricter regulations could cause a drop in home values –- especially if water levels remain high year-round.

“Mostly, I’m really concerned about property value,” said Jeff Weatherly. “If it’s a nonskiable lake, my belief is that the property values will drop.”

After the hearing, Commissioner Cathy Wolfe said she has morequestions for staff, but she hopes the board can make a final decisionon the proposed ordinance by the end of the month.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 @Lisa_Pemberton

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