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Round Lake gives up on Wooster Lake no-wake rule

A “no wake zone” sign is posted along front walkway Denz home Wooster Lake Ingleside. | Ruthie Hauge ~ Sun-Times

A “no wake zone” sign is posted along the front walkway of the Denz home on Wooster Lake in Ingleside. | Ruthie Hauge ~ Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 10, 2011 2:30AM

Wooster Lake is back to being wide open for boats to travel at any speed after a Round Lake ordinance was rescinded last month.

The controversy on the lake goes back many years and resulted in state legislation to allow boat owners to accelerate their boats beyond the no-wake limit that some area residents wanted to impose on the 100-acre lake off Route 134.

Round Lake Mayor Jim Dietz said the village never enforced the ordinance for a no-wake zone and officials did a survey where opinion was split 50/50, although some say the survey was flawed and incomplete. But it was clear the issue was exhausting to him.

“I’m for property owners not causing problems for others,” he said. “We couldn’t get a working consensus. It was time to let it go. The fact they have confrontations, bumping boats, that’s improper.”

Some subdivisions, like Tanneron Bay and Holiday Park, have language in their homeowner association covenants that call for low impact use of the lake, or no wake.

Lake County Board member Bonnie Carter Thomson of Ingleside said she gathered more than 400 signatures multiple times from people who own lake bottom and have lake rights. They all want low-impact boating.

“I’m disappointed that a majority, several generations of people, have done everything they can to protect the lake,” she said.

Thomson said there had always been a gentleman’s agreement about the lake, until Kirk Denz moved onto the lake and wanted to water ski and use his personal watercraft.

“He doesn’t care about a valuable resource,” she said. “He’ll do it whether there is an ordinance or not.”

Denz ran against Thomson on the Wooster Lake issue, among others, in 2008. She won re-election handily.

Denz is unapologetic, saying the homeowners associations with covenants were tricked into it agreeing to the no-wake zone.

“It’s been illegal from day one,” he said of the rule. He pushed for a clarification of a state law that said Round Lake couldn’t force properties outside their jurisdiction to adhere to its zoning laws. The village abuts only a portion of the lake.

He said he had one of his opponents actually bumped his boat just before he was getting ready to take off with some kids in an inner tube behind the boat.

“I can see the other side of the coin, I feel bad these people were lied to, but you can’t take it out on your neighbors,” he said.

Dave Bond, a resident for 35 years, said he didn’t personally fight against the ordinance, but he did feel that “a certain element wouldn’t let anyone use the lake for anything but fishing. They were deceived,” he said. He used to water ski on the lake.

“They were disappointed, but it’s not our fault,” he said.

Historically, the lake has been a very low-use lake. A recent sunny and warm Sunday only brought out two pontoon boats and a fishing boat. “That was the extent of traffic,” he said.

But he does feel the quality of the lake has gone down.

“This used to be one of the cleanest lakes in the county,” he said, adding there is a lot of runoff and a lot of phosphates seeping into Wooster Lake.

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