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Corps dock permit lottery excites select few
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Bill Felder of West Hall waits Wednesday to watch a random drawing online of applications for the remaining Lake Lanier boat dock permits. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had 277 applicants for 174 remaining permits. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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Hear Diane Teaver of Lula talk about her hopes of getting three boat dock permits

BUFORD — With her hopes high, Diane Teaver drove to Buford on Wednesday morning, stopped at Starbuck’s Coffee and settled in at a meeting room at the Spring Hill Suites Hotel.

She didn’t leave disappointed.

The Lula woman secured spots in line for the 174 remaining permits for docks on Lake Lanier in a lottery sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and conducted by a Florida-based contractor.

Upon hearing that she would be the 29th person to have one of three applications reviewed, she gave high-fives to the few people around her and was all smiles.

"It’s great. I’m excited. It was worth driving here for," Teaver said.

Only a couple of people showed up early for the lottery shown by video feed at the hotel across from the Mall of Georgia. The lottery was shown live on a couple of pre-arranged Web sites, so applicants and others could view the drawing from home.

Teaver made the trip because she thought "it would be interesting to talk to some people (who could) answer my questions," she said.

Ernest Noe, chief ranger with the corps at Buford Dam, was on hand to watch over the proceedings and help people as needed.

The corps’ management plan and an accompanying Environmental Impact Statement completed in 2004 set the limit of boat docks available on the lake at 10,615.

The agency stopped issuing permits two years ago, as the drought began to dry up the lake. Earlier this year, after the lake’s elevation began rising because of a wet winter and spring, the corps released the moratorium and set up the lottery.

After a 90-day submission period that ended earlier this month, the corps ended up with 277 qualified applicants. Additional applications had been weeded out for various reasons, including more than two had been filed for the same property.

Applicants could file requests for more than one dock, however.

Teaver was one of those, seeking permits for three. Her other permit applications landed at No. 100 and No. 119 in the lottery.

"They are an investment for my children," she said. "I immediately signed up to get one on each (piece of property), if I could, and just kind of help the resale value."

Bill and Diane Felder of West Hall had tried for five years to get a dock permit but, for various reasons, hadn’t succeeded. They were persistent, contacting the corps regularly, in their pursuits.

"This is our last-ditch effort," Diane Felder said of the lottery in an interview before Wednesday. "If this doesn’t work out, then I don’t know what we’re going to do."

They were selected at No. 81 in the lottery.

"I’m glad they put our name in the hat. I’m glad I hadn’t made somebody mad enough that they had just taken our name out completely," Bill Felder said Wednesday, laughing.

For those whose name was drawn at No. 175 or farther down the list, all hope for a dock isn’t completely lost.

The plan now — after the official results are posted online Monday and stay up 30 days — is for the corps to start contacting applicants in the order their names were drawn and set up an appointment for an on-site review.

It is possible to get the corps’ OK or denial in that meeting. Applicants who get a verbal OK have 90 days to get the proper paperwork to the corps for the permit, which carries an assortment of fees, Noe said.

"Until we issue that last permit, we’ll keep that list valid," he said.

Noe roughly guesses the entire process will take about a year to complete.

"Appointments will be booked at a rate at which staff feels is appropriate to allow for proper evaluation," according to a document Noe handed out at Spring Hill Suites.

As for Teaver, she was taking the whole process in stride.

"I think (the lottery) is a good idea. It seems fair. I mean, if I walk away with nothing, it’s nothing gained, nothing lost," she said.

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