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Corps starts to work through dock requests
Permit process reopened in September on first-come basis
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working through an initial wave of applications for remaining boat dock permits on Lake Lanier, since the first-come, first-served process was reopened Sept. 16.

Staff members have called about 25 applicants and scheduled appointments for 17 of those requests, said Chief Ranger Ernest Noe, who is overseeing the process.

“At this time, 11 positive recommendations and five denials have been made,” he said.

As of Nov. 20, the corps had received 189 requests. The agency got 160 requests on the first day, with 144 of those in the first hour, Noe said.

The corps had used a lottery started in 2009 to distribute the remaining 187 permits and ended up approving 121 permit “equivalents” out of 281 requests, with a permit either serving as a single dock or two slips in a community dock, Noe has said.

Nearly 200 requests overall were rejected in that process.

However, “some of the requests submitted were found to not be for new permits at all,” Noe said. “They were for upgrades and didn’t need to be in the lottery process.”

Lanier’s 2004 Shoreline Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement set the docks limit at 10,615. The corps stopped issuing permits when drought struck the Southeast in 2007 and drained Lanier to a historic low water level of 1,050.79 feet above sea level Dec. 26, 2007.

The corps decided in June 2009 to restart issuing permits, but only after Lanier’s elevation had stayed consistently above 1,064 feet, and chose to go with the lottery.

“We believed it was the fairest way (to issue permits),” Noe said in August 2009. “It’s a very orderly way to do things.”

The lottery was held in October 2009 at the SpringHill Suites in Buford.

Dock reviews began later, then halted in September 2011 after another dry period had dropped the lake below 1,064 feet.

The corps was able to resume in March 2012 and stay on the task, as 2013 would go on to become one of Hall County’s wettest years on record.

The agency’s Mobile District, which governs Lanier, is meanwhile seeking public comment through Dec. 15 on a change to the shoreline plan concerning community docks.

Permit holders now have until the expiration of their permit to obtain the a final plat for the community dock from their respective local government, rather than until Dec. 1.

“Since the economy didn’t recover as anticipated, several of these developments are just now getting to a point of being able to move forward,” corps spokesman Pat Robbins said.

Comments can be emailed to docks.lanier@usace.army.mil, with 2014 SMP Update in the subject line, or mailed to Lake Sidney Lanier, Shoreline Management, c/o 2014 SMP Update, P.O. Box 567, Buford, GA 30515.

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