Dock 2

Clear Lake's longest dock at Sunset Bay Marina could be considerably shortened, pending a current permit application with the DNR.

CHRIS ZOELLER, The Globe Gazette

CLEAR LAKE | Ken and Walt Tarter are not happy about the 496-foot long dock that extends off the property at 2721 S. Lake View Drive.

The Tarters occupy the property at 2717 S. Lake View Drive, two houses to the east from the Sunset Bay Marina. The dock that extends off it has been a hot topic for months in Clear Lake, as those with boat slips on it are awaiting how the Iowa DNR rules on a pending dock permit application.

Walt Tarter sent a letter to the DNR on Dec. 5, 2017, arguing for why whoever owns the property should comply with current DNR regulations: the current commercial dock blocks part of his view of the lake, parking is congested during the spring and summer months and safety concerns for his kids and grandkids, who play in the water behind his property, right in the path of many boats who pull out from the Sunset Bay dock.

Ken Tarter, Walt's son, said he and his parents mostly use the property as a summer cabin during the warmer months. He said safety is one of his primary concerns, and why he's been vocal about getting the DNR to shorten the dock.

"I think it’s extremely dangerous," he said. "They back out and they bump into the dock on our property and our neighbor’s property; that’s a pretty serious situation … it adversely affects the use of our property and probably devalues it to some extent."

Other neighbors who live near the dock said they are in a "wait and see" mode as the DNR decides to do with the dock's length.

Dale Culver, who resides right next to the Sunset Bay Marina during the summer months, said his family has owned the house at 2719 S. Lake View Drive for at least 25 years.

He added the dock's fate is in the DNR's hands, and his main issue right now is parking in the immediate vicinity.

"It’s always been an issue," Culver said. "With the state park there, there’s always been a lack of parking."

Outside of the dock itself, the other main issue the DNR has been working with Clear Lake officials is the property itself. Even though it is in a residential zone, Dale and Tim Entner were able to keep their commercial-sized dock in operation until they both died. 

Both had a special waiver with the DNR to keep the dock at its current length, which could not be passed on to other family members when they died.

Alex Yohn, a local business owner, recently bought the property, and said he expects city officials to allow a conditional use permit on the property. Yohn said he wants to sell and rent boats off the dock, and perhaps expand the business to sell food and drink out of the basement.

Clear Lake Chief Building Official Mike Ritter said the property will remain zoned residential, which has been the case since 2004. He added the main issue now is the dock's length.

"Right now the DNR has to establish what they’re going to do with the length of the dock," Ritter said. "What they decide and how they’re going to do things has repercussions all over the state … that’s why they’re taking our time."

Both Yohn and Jake Kopriva, who uses the dock for his Lake Time Boat Club business, said they expect the DNR to allow them to keep the dock at 300 feet in length. Kopriva, who helped submit the dock permit application, added he is still waiting on a decision from the DNR.

Alex Murphy, a spokesman with the DNR, said the application is still pending. Yohn said that in order to keep the dock at 300 feet, he would have to clean up the shoreline and overall property.

"(DNR Director) Chuck Gipp is the guy who’s gonna make the call," Yohn said. "A big part of them accepting this permit is me cleaning up my property in the backyard … the DNR wants me to clean all that up and put some natural stone down."

Kopriva said the main objective is to save some of the dock in time for the spring and summer months this year. He added that based off preliminary estimates, he could probably fit up up to 36 boat slips on the 300-foot dock.

"We just want to make sure the application keeps moving through," he said. "At this point we just want to make sure we’re able to get something out there at this point … right now, we’re just complying with the DNR and what they’ll allow."

Contact Steve at 641-421-0527 or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.

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