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MOUNTHOLLY, N.C. -- More than 100 boat owners and lake residents filled a meeting of the Mountain Island Lake Marine Commission Wednesday, as the panel considers a new registration fee and restrictions for power boats.

Single-hull boats longer than 22 feet and pontoon boats more than 26 feet long would not be allowed on the lake under the proposed new rules.

Advocates for the restrictions have said the 3,200-acre reservoir, which is less than a tenth the size of Lake Norman, is too small for larger boats.

The narrow and shallow lake is the source of water for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities customers.

Rusty Rozelle, a Program Manager who oversees water quality for Mecklenburg County Land Use and Environmental Services, told the marine commission there is evidence to suggest boat propellers can stir up contaminants that have drained into the water and sit at the bottom of the lake.

When you stir that bottom up, then you suspend all those pollutants into the water column, he said.

In the second of three public hearings on the proposed restrictions, several speakers said they doubt well-maintained power boats contribute to a decline in water quality.

It s okay to be proactive, but we do not have a problem. There is not a problem on this lake, said Bryan Abernathy, a Mountain Island Lake property owner.

A committee of the marine commission drafted the proposal, which includes a registration system for enforcing the size restrictions.
The panel has not set a fee for registering a boat, but the proceeds would be used to enhance law enforcement and signage on the lake, said Pam Beck, Chairman of the commission.

Four people spoke in support of the proposal at Wednesday night's public hearing.

I can t imagine an argument about this, said Diane Willis, President of the Mountain Island Lake Wildlife Stewards. This covers the things that are important to me.

If the proposed rules are adopted, boats which are already docked on Mountain Island Lake would be granted an exception to the size restrictions.

The final public hearing is scheduled for July 7th at Cowan's Ford Country Club in Stanley, NC.

A decision is expected later this year.

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