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Sea planes hot topic at Lake Lanier master plan meeting
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Nick Baggett, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, walks visitors at the Hall County Government Center Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, through the Corps Master Plan for Lake Lanier. - photo by Scott Rogers

The prospect of seaplanes on Lake Lanier drew Mike and Debbie Smith to the Army Corps of Engineers meeting Tuesday, Feb. 25.

But as residents living on the Hall County side of the lake, they had wider concerns.

“We own property on Lake Lanier,” Mike Smith said. “We’re wondering what (Corps plans) will do to our tax values.”

From seaplanes to erosion control, the Corps is considering a number of recreation changes to its 33-year-old master plan for the lake.

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Visitors at the Hall County Government Center Tuesdsay, Feb. 25, 2020, attend a meeting open to the public explaining the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers master plan for Lake Lanier. - photo by Scott Rogers

The current plan “is in need of revision to address changes in regional land use, population, outdoor recreation trends and Corps of Engineers management policy,” the Corps says on its website.

The Corps is holding open houses this week to describe the changes, including Tuesday’s meeting at the Hall County Government Center in Gainesville. Two others are set this week — one in Cumming and one in Buford.

Officials are providing results of a study reviewing current and future recreational needs and capacity on the lake. The Corps started the study in October 2017.

The information covered a number of topics, including identifying non-recreation areas for erosion control projects, adding paddle sports launching and docks, and expanding hunting opportunities, according to the Corps.

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Visitors at the Hall County Government Center Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, attend a meeting open to the public explaining the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers master plan for Lake Lanier. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Corps’ considering allowing seaplanes on Lanier drew several people — advocates and those with concerns.

Some said they were worried about noise from the craft.

Advocates said that while seaplanes may draw onlookers, noise from the craft is minimal.

“The noise at takeoff … is a good bit less than offshore racing-type boats and lasts an average 25-40 seconds,” says a brochure from the Lanier Seaplane Pilots Association.

“I just feel seaplanes won’t be a detriment to the lake in any manner,” said Johnny Carter, a Gainesville pilot.

Residents had other concerns, as well, such as speeding on the lake.

“The lake is for families, for fun, for everyone,” said Sylvia Padrick, a lake resident in Hall. “My only concerns are erosion and people not respecting the lake like they should.”

The Smiths said they’re especially fond of recreational offerings at Lanier Point Park.

“We’d like to see that imitated,” Mike Smith said.

The results of the recreation study will be used to update the Lake Lanier Master Plan, which has been described as a “comprehensive land and recreational management tool” for the lake.

The recreational study is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

An updated draft master plan is expected to be finished, along with an environmental assessment, by the end of 2020, the Corps said.


Remaining Lake Lanier meetings

Cumming

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 4-9 p.m.

Central Park Banquet Room, 2300 Keith Bridge Road

Buford

Thursday, Feb. 27, 4-9 p.m.

Lanier Project Management Office, 1050 Buford Dam Road

Regional events