Council delegates lake regulations to working group

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Pawhuska City Council agreed April 1 to delegate to a working group the development of a document that will include revisions to municipal regulations for persons who lease lakefront lots at Bluestem Lake.

The council held a sometimes rambling discussion of lakefront property regulations April 1, and Ward 3 Councilor Mark Buchanan suggested that a working group of city staff members should be empowered to develop a document that would incorporate concerns voiced during the meeting. That working group is to include City Attorney John Heskett, Interim City Manager Tonya Bright, Interim Police Chief Lorrie Hennesy, and Code Enforcement Officer Steve Hughes.

At-Large Councilor Steve Tolson questioned when the work on the document would take place, given that new lake lot leases are to be approved and placed in effect by July 1. Heskett indicated he and other participants in the development of an updated document could get something back to the council expeditiously, with a view toward the council making any changes it would like and then sharing the final product with the public before enforcing it.

Hennesy argued April 1 that she needs to be able to share her observations of what actually happens at Bluestem Lake with any person or group developing revised regulations. She noted that she has been directly involved for the past three years in enforcing city regulations at Bluestem Lake.

“This has been my thing. I know this stuff,” Hennesy told the council.

Bright observed that numerous elements of the city’s existing lake regulations for Bluestem Lake and Lake Pawhuska seem to be out of date.

One thing that Hennesy pointed out is that lake lots are not the standard, square size that the city’s official language makes reference to. Some of them are actually “pie-shaped,” she said. Hennesy argued the official language regarding the lots should be changed to reflect holding people responsible for “the land allotted to you by the city.”

Hennesy emphasized she wants to function as a peacemaker among persons using the lake, and she told the councilors that lake use is on the increase.

“We have a lot more people coming to our lake than you guys think,” she said.

During a follow-up interview, Hennesy said her concern is that the council could decide to take action in such a way that it will unintentionally stir up conflict at Bluestem Lake.

“That’s exactly what I’m afraid will happen,” Hennesy said, also confirming it is her view that lake users are mostly getting along pretty well right now.

Hennesy suggested changes in four areas – changing the official language to get rid of references to standard-sized lots; clarifying the specific circumstances under which lake lot leases may be revoked; arranging for city government to have a boat in place at Bluestem Lake for use in response to medical emergencies; and creating additional lots.

Asked by Mayor Roger Taylor whether the city needs to look at mandating that women must wear an upper garment or top in public, Hennesy answered in the affirmative.

“That is something that you need to think about, yes,” Hennesy said, commenting that women can legally appear in public in Oklahoma without wearing an upper garment or top.