Snowmobile speed limit on Wauconda's Bangs Lake might change again

  • A snowmobile cruises along the frozen surface of Bangs Lake in Wauconda. Village officials are considering changing the speed limit on the lake for snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.

    A snowmobile cruises along the frozen surface of Bangs Lake in Wauconda. Village officials are considering changing the speed limit on the lake for snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. Courtesy of Village of Wauconda

 
 
Updated 1/16/2017 12:30 PM

Prompted by community objections, Wauconda officials are set to amend recent speed limit changes for snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles on Bangs Lake.

The latest plan, which could be approved Feb. 7, would set the speed limit at 50 mph from 10 a.m. to sunset. From sunset to 10 a.m., the speed limit would be 25 mph.

 

Until this winter, the limits had been 45 mph during daylight hours and 30 mph at night.

In late December, however, the village board voted to lower the speed limit on the frozen lake to 30 mph during daylight and to 15 mph at night. Speeders face fines of up to $750.

The speed limits were lowered after police received complaints about snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles being driven too close to people fishing, Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner said.

Local snowmobile enthusiasts are unhappy with the lower limits, however. They've voiced their displeasure in emails and phone calls to village officials.

"There was substantial activity on social media as well," Maxeiner said.

As a result, village officials including Police Chief David Wermes and Trustee Linda Starkey, who leads the board's natural resources committee, met earlier this month with John Lindberg, president of the Wauconda Snowmobile Club.

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They came up with a compromise: The daytime speed limit would return to 45 mph, and the new 15 mph nighttime limit would remain.

But after more discussion and public comments at a Jan. 10 natural resources committee meeting that was attended by many snowmobile enthusiasts, the recommendation changed again.

The committee recommended increasing the daytime limit to 50 mph and the nighttime limit to 25 mph -- the current proposal.

Starkey said the committee wanted to balance the police department's concern about safety with the snowmobile owners' desire to enjoy the lake.

The lack of speed limits for snowmobiles in other parts of the county, including forest preserve district trails, also was considered, Starkey said.

Lindberg said the proposed speed limits are "plenty safe." Dropping the daytime limit to 30 mph and the nighttime limit to 15 mph was "too restrictive," he said.

Officials noted state law includes several provisions for snowmobiles, including one prohibiting them from driving within 100 feet of another person and another prohibiting snowmobile operations that are "careless, reckless or negligent."

Trustee Tim Howe, a member of the natural resources committee, said he favors allowing snowmobile users to "satisfy their need for speed" as long as those state laws are enforced when needed.

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