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Couple hopes to hit Lake Lanier dock lottery
Bill and Diane Felder at the area where they are trying to get a permit for a dock for the boat that is sitting at the edge of the lake. - photo by Tom Reed

Boat dock permits

Those interested in pursuing a permit for a boat dock must submit a request letter by mail to Lake Lanier Permits, P.O. Box 9, Gonzalez, FL 32560. Paperwork can be downloaded by clicking here or by visiting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lanier Project Management Office at 1050 Buford Dam Road, Buford.

A West Hall couple’s five-year quest for a dock permit has come down to a lottery.

Bill and Diane Felder moved five years ago to Habersham Walk off Goddards Ford Road.

And like their neighbors, they wanted a dock to launch a boat from a neighborhood cove into Lake Lanier, at a crossing of the Chattahoochee and Chestatee rivers.

Trouble was they didn’t have the sufficient space needed between neighbors’ docks to wedge in one of their own.

"Originally, there was space for everybody on this side of the street to have a dock," said Diane Felder.

Then came a two-year drought that dropped lake levels dramatically and a moratorium on new dock permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"That was fair. ... I felt like the lake level needed to be higher before we get more docks on the lake," Bill Felder said of the corps’ action.

A wet spring pushed levels back up, prompting corps officials to reconsider the ban.

The corps’ Mobile District decided in June to restart the process, but only after Lanier’s elevation had remained at or above 1,064 feet above sea level for 30 consecutive days and the five-week forecast showed "the level or rise is sustainable."

The lake rose to a peak 1,066.71 on June 17, then, because of a lack of consistent rainfall, has been steadily declining. Lanier stood at 1,064.45 feet Monday.

The corps decided on a lottery process in settling who gets the permits, as the Lanier shoreline plan and Environmental Impact Statement completed in 2004 limited the number of boat docks on the lake to 10,615.

The lake now has 10,441 docks.

Corps officials have said they believe the lottery process is the fairest way to parcel out the remaining permits, but the Felders disagree.

"We feel like somebody may come in and buy a house that doesn’t have a dock right, and right now go ahead and put in an application and possibly get picked in the lottery," Bill Felder said.

"We’ve been doing this for five years and feel like we should be considered first."

The request period for boat dock permits on Lake Lanier began July 15 and will end Oct. 13.

About one week after the submission period ends, a final list will be published online representing those requests confirmed for an Oct. 28 lottery drawing.

The drawing will be shown on the Web and shown by video feed to a site in the Lake Lanier area. A link to the Web broadcast will be available here.

Final decisions will be provided in writing.

Last week, Ernest Noe with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said 140 applicants are vying so far for the remaining 174 dock permits.

"From our initial expectations, the number is a little low," he said. "I think there are some who are waiting until the last minute to get their request in."

If the corps ends up with 174 or fewer requests, "the lottery will be the process to put those in order," Noe said.

"Then, we would start issuing them as site conditions allow, and we would deal the rest of them probably according to our Shoreline Management Plan."