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County sheriff questions 1978 ordinance for Crow Wing lakes

Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes asked county commissioners to send an "ancient" ordinance to the planning commission for review.

He met with the county board during their Oct. 17 meeting.

Hubbard County Ordinance No. 10 regulates "surface use of waters" on First Crow Wing, Second Crow Wing, Third Crow Wing, LaSalle and Lester lakes.

The ordinance restricts watercraft speed to less than 15 mph between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. on the three Crow Wing lakes. Watercraft on LaSalle must operate at 10 mph or less. Only electric motors or non-motorized watercraft are allowed on Lester Lake.

"It's an old ordinance. I personally think it's not fair countywide to treat lakes differently," Aukes said. "By this ordinance, you're outlawing lawful activity."

Aukes said he spoke with two key people who live on the Crow Wing chain of lakes and are affected by the ordinance.

"My purpose was to find a little of the history on how this came about because it's a 1978 ordinance. It's simply about fishermen wanting a little peace and tranquility and a calm lake in the evening when they're fishing. Plain and simple," he said.

The board wouldn't even consider establishing a similar ordinance today, Aukes continued, adding that two of the three lakes are "a couple of the biggest lakes on the Crow Wing chain."

"It sounds like it's not being adhered to, that people are driving faster. People don't have an issue with it because they're not reporting it to us. So it's a non-issue," Aukes said. "After 39 years of being on the books, the people down there don't think the ordinance is even very well understood."

In 2014, Itasca State Park requested that LaSalle be added to the ordinance, but that is a different situation altogether and understandable, Aukes said.

Likewise, Lester Lake is "a little, tiny lake."

The county board unanimously agreed to send the ordinance to the planning commission for review.

In related business, the county board authorized the purchase and installation of law enforcement equipment for the sheriff department's 2018 Ford F150. The total cost is $21,200 for lights, sirens, prisoner partitions, camera, radar, mobile radio, graphics and toolbox.

"You're looking at state bid pricing on a vast majority of this," Aukes said.

Commissioners also approved the purchase of a John Deere commercial mower for the Sentence to Serve Program, priced at $7,421. Aukes said the item was budgeted and "no taxpayer dollars will be spent on it as it's being paid out of donated funds."