Other Sports

Lake Davidson skiing could be wiped out

One of Lake Davidson's most popular activities could be curtailed by rules the town of Davidson has put on lake housing developments – and that Mooresville, on the lake's northern end, has begun to study.

Slalom skiers have plied the lake for decades, pulled by ski boats are now technically restricted because of their horsepower. Davidson adopted the regulations last year and wants Mooresville to do the same.

The regulations include a 10-horsepower limit for all boats docked in the town's jurisdiction. Ski boats generally range from 200 to 400 horsepower.

Beginning with the Spinnaker Cove development in 1980, the Davidson Town Board regulated the size of boat motors through zoning. Each subsequent town board conditioned approvals of Lake Davidson subdivision plans with the 10-horsepower limit. Officials in part were concerned about the danger of having too many boats on the lake.

Unless they have a home and dock on Lake Davidson, skiers must use a muddy access path off Transco Road in south Iredell to get their boats onto the lake.

Lake Davidson is on the Mecklenburg/Iredell line, along Interstate 77. The lake is a part of Lake Norman via a culvert below I-77, Davidson officials explain in a five-page Lake Davidson Fact Sheet. Lake Davidson is about 125 acres, compared with Lake Norman's 32,475 acres.

Terry Lord, president of Lake Norman Ski Club, a nonprofit group that promotes all water sports, including canoeing and kayaking, said he's concerned by government trying to restrict who can use the lake.

“It's the fact that you're trying to limit a body of water that can support a whole bunch of activities,” Lord told me last week.

Davidson and Mooresville have discussed an “interlocal agreement” for several years that would make uniform the restrictions on boats docked at or accessing the lake.

Discussions began when a large, yet-to-be-named subdivision on the lake's north shore in south Iredell seemed imminent, the fact sheet says. Work on the development's 400 to 600 homes won't begin for several years, Davidson officials said.

Davidson approved the agreement last year, but Mooresville postponed a decision to further examine the issue. Officials from the towns will discuss the agreement again on Tuesday.

Instead of limiting the public's access to Lake Davidson, government should be more concerned with protecting its fine water quality, said John Akin, a Lake Davidson resident who skis the lake with wife, Pam Pearson; son, Cooper, 20; and stepdaughter, Sammy Warnement, 15.

Akin belongs to the citizens' group PLEASE@LKD (Preserve Lake's Environment Access Safety & Evolution.) and said runoff from development should be the concern.

“The watershed area around the lake has 100 times more impact than a few boats,” he said. He said he counted only nine powerboats using the lake on July 4, traditionally the busiest of the year. Most days, he sees only one or two boats on the lake, if any, he said.

The issue should be “striking a balance between density and development and natural resources like this,” he said on the lake last week.

Residents are welcome to attend upcoming Lake Davidson meetings between Davidson and Mooresville officials, Davidson spokeswoman Sara-Lynne Levine said. “We understand their concerns, and we encourage them to come to the meetings,” she said.

Levine said skiers have other safe places to use, including neighboring Cornelius Lake and Lake Norman.

Skiers say they like Lake Davidson because it's safer than Lake Norman with its thousands of boats. Lake Davidson also has less wind, because the I-77 causeway between Lake Norman and Lake Davidson blocks the prevailing winds coming from the southwest, Akin said.

Akin said he'd like to see the towns involve residents more when considering lake regulations. While residents won't be able to comment at Tuesday's meeting, they can offer their thoughts during a public meeting in Mooresville on Sept. 3, officials said.