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Crystal Lake Park District mulls new rules for the lake

Park District considers increasing regulations for Crystal Lake

A proposed ordinance that would increase regulation of Crystal Lake’s namesake lake has angered some residents.

During a recent Crystal Lake Park District workshop meeting, commissioners received a draft of an ordinance that could limit the amount of personal property some lakefront residents can place on the lake.

The district owns more than 90% of the lakebed, or the bottom of the lake, Park District Executive Director Jason Herbster said.

Homeowners who don’t own portions of the lakebed outside their homes would need the district’s permission before installing piers, boat lifts, moorings and swimming rafts, according to the proposed ordinance.

“It’s really just about lake safety and people looking for direction when they buy a home on the lake, and what they can and can’t do when placing a pier,” Herbster said.

Herbster said there are “people opposed to it and in favor of it.” He said it’s not yet clear when the board will take up the matter.

“It’s still just a draft, and the board’s still discussing it,” he said. “It’s still in its early stages of development. ... Things could drastically change as we move forward.”

Herbster said the district isn’t interested in removing property. He said the current ordinance already prohibits personal property on district property but doesn’t specify Crystal Lake.

“What people are doing right now wouldn’t change,” he said. “This gets the ordinance in line with what’s already going on at the lake with the piers. ... The Park District will never tell people to get their piers off [the lake].”

Herbster said the lake is of deep importance to lakefront property owners, and he hopes people wait until the proposed ordinance is polished before choosing to support or oppose it.

“Piers, boat lifts, moorings and swimming rafts existing as of June 1, 2019, may continue in existence and may be maintained in the same general condition in the future; however, no repair or replacement of any such pier, boat lift, mooring or swimming raft can result in the pier, boat lift, mooring or swimming raft being located farther from shore than it was located on June 1, 2019,” the draft ordinance reads.

Still, the draft ordinance maintains that the district “retains sole and absolute discretion” over whether use of the lakebed is “no longer in the interests” of the district or public. Anyone with personal property on the lakebed must remove it when directed. The district also could grant requests from lakefront property owners hoping to construct a pier or similar item.

If passed in its current form, violators could be fined from $150 to $1,000. Each day a prohibited piece of property remains on the district’s lakebed would be considered a separate offense.

“They’re not trying to take over the lake by any means,” former Treasurer Larry Wheeler said.

His term expired Thursday.

“We’re not trying to step on anybody’s feet,” he said. “There are concerns about liability and safety of the public.”

Gregg Kobelinski, president of the Shoreline Property Owners Association, said he’s deeply opposed to the draft ordinance.

“It’s not needed,” he said. “There’s never been a safety issue here.”

Kobelinski, who owns the portion of lake behind his property, said most Shoreline homeowners own the property on the lake behind their homes. Still, he said it’s not fair for residents who don’t own portions of the lake to face additional regulations.

“They’re saying you can’t use the lake unless we tell you you can,” Shoreline Property Owners Association Treasurer Eric Anderson said, adding that residents pay a premium to live on the lake.

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