Victoria City Council voted to grant the little boat launch a permit.
An 84-year-old man won permission Monday to reopen a small private boat launch that he's been running for nearly half a century on Shutz Lake in Victoria.
On a 4-0 vote, the Victoria City Council granted Archie Leizinger a permit to open the gates to his boat landing that had been shut since early May. His family said they hoped to be launching boats by August.
A few homeowners on the Carver County lake had complained last winter that Leizinger needed a permit for the business, and that anglers using the boat access might bring zebra mussels into the lake.
The city determined that Leizinger needed to either obtain a $1,500 permit or shut down his launch.
While Leizinger's family decided whether to apply for the one-time permit and negotiate its conditions, his guardian decided in May to shut down the launch, known locally as Archie's Landing.
Leizinger, who is mentally disabled, loves talking to fishermen. He charges $6 and a Dr Pepper to launch a boat and can accommodate no more than six boats and trailers.
The 99-acre lake is known for its bass fishing. It has no public access, so Archie's Landing is the only way for outsiders -- and several of the 30 homeowners who live on the lake -- to launch their boats.
But some residents complained that the boat launch also provides access to wakeboarders who erode the shoreline, and anglers who fish too close to private docks.
Others said that shutting the landing was an attempt to close off the lake, whose waters are public.
The Minnesota Bass Federation, Cabin Fever Sporting Goods in Victoria, and many individuals rallied to Leizinger's support, donating money for the permit and dock repairs.
"The response has just been phenomenal," said Archie's guardian and sister-in-law, Sue Leizinger.
Victoria community development director Holly Kreft said that the permit does not include a requirement that Leizinger inspect boats for zebra mussels, as some suggested. Boaters are responsible by state law for keeping their watercraft and trailers free of weeds, mussels and other invasives, she said.
However, the permit imposes conditions including hours of operation, parking, signs at the launch, dock repair or replacement, and composting, recycling and trash collection.
Last week, Victoria's planning commission recommended approval of the permit after a public hearing that drew about 40 people, many wearing "Friends of Archie" stickers. At Monday's meeting, Victoria officials voted to refund the $1,500 permit fee to Leizinger. Family members said they would either return donations or use them to fund dock repairs and other costs of needed improvements at the landing.
Leizinger did not attend the meeting but family members said he is overjoyed. "I tell you, Archie's just a happy camper," said Sue Leizinger. "Before he was crying with tears of sadness, but now it's tears of joy."
Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388