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Lake Davidson Focus of Horsepower, Pollution Debate

High-powered boats have always been on Lake Davidson, but development has increased their presence. Lots of those shoreline developments have community docks for large boats. At the same time, the lake has become more accessible to canoers and kayakers, users that don't always appreciate the large wakes that big boats cause. There are now efforts to restrict the size of boat motors on Lake Davidson. The issue was the subject of a public hearing last night in Mooresville. Davidson controls zoning on Lake Davidson's southern shorelines; Mooresville controls the northern end. Officials from both towns have been meeting this summer to seek consensus on an issue that's evoked strong opinions. About 150 came to last night's meeting. Doug Oldenburg spoke for a group called Friends of Lake Davidson. "I have signed statements here from over 240 people supporting our concerns and urging you to recommend that our two towns adopt and enforce a 10 horsepower regulation on boat motors," he said. In fact, Davidson has already adopted a 10-horsepower limit. But the town hasn't enforced the rule because it doesn't have a zoning enforcement officer. Mooresville has not horsepower limits. Davidson Mayor John Woods says the two towns are hoping to agree to a vision for the 341-acre lake. "It creates an unusual opportunity to create a really unique water feature facility for limited and very special uses," he says. Speakers throughout the evening focused on boating safety, lake pollution and development. Some blame the large horsepower boats for increasing pollution. Water-skiers and owners of high-powered boats, like John Akin of Davidson, argue it's development that's responsible for increased lake pollution. "There's no factual proof that motorized boats harm the Lake Davidson environment now or ever. Let's focus on the most pressing issues in Lake Davidson: overdevelopment and density in the watershed area," Akin told the hearing panel. Davidson restricts development on portions of the 341-acre lake. Davidson officials would like Mooresville to adopt similar protections. Most speakers on both sides of the issue agreed the towns should restrict development and work to preserve water quality. Mooresville commissioner Frank Rader is leery of imposing horsepower restrictions that have never been in place since the lake was created 45 years ago. "The question for those who have been listening, as well as those who have been speaking is if the preponderance of evidence sufficient to change the use for the next 45 years," Rader says. A working committee hopes to make a formal recommendation to the two town boards by year's end.