Salem approves changing zoning around Center Lake dam

A Google Streetview image of the Center Lake Dam.

The Camp/Center Lakes Rehabilitation District got approval for a zoning change from Salem Monday that the district needs to pursue its desire to rehabilitate the Center Lake dam.

The change approved by the Town Board was to make a lot line adjustment and zoning change. The lot line adjustment was to allow the district to obtain an easement on one side of the dam. The district already owned the property at the other end of the dam. The state Department of Natural Resources requires any entity taking ownership and maintenance of a dam to own the property on both sides so access is not an issue, said Doug Hughes, a district board member

The dam is in a state of disrepair, but had ambiguous ownership in the past. The town has declined to take over the ownership of the dam. The district decided to pursue ownership and a rehabilitation of the dam.

“The lake district feels it is appropriate to get involved because (the dam) does control the lakes,” said Supreviser Dennis Faber who also is a member of the lake district board.

The dam is located along the north side of Highway SA where the two lakes meet.

Faber explained that the dam’s chief function is to keep the level on Center Lake — the more northerly lake — higher in times of drought.

The ultimate height of the dam will be set by the DNR. It currently is 15 inches high, but has been as low as 12 inches, Faber said.

Land owners along the natural lake shore tend to favor lower levels on Center Lake while those with propety along the man-made channels coming off the lake prefer higher levels to keep the channels naviagble by watercraft, Faber explained after the meeting.

The board vote on the lot line adjustment and zoning change to C-2 zoning were approved unanimously by the board with Faber abstaining.

CCLRD membership has approved spending up to $82,000 on the dam project.

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