0507DOCKSaudListen as Chief Ranger Ernest Noe of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers explains the review process for dock permits.
Six months after restarting a process to issue the last batch of dock permits on Lake Lanier, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has found it is denying about two-thirds of the requests.
“In a lot of cases, what I’m assuming is people are putting in their last-ditch effort, trying to get their lot approved,” Chief Ranger Ernest Noe said.
“Some of (the requests) have been previously denied, and some (lots) are behind protected areas ... and some just don’t touch corps property at all.”
Noe said he expects the corps will spend at least another year reviewing requests for 185 remaining permits, including visits to proposed sites, and then rendering decisions.
So far, through a lottery that took place in October, the corps has considered 66 requests, denying 42 and recommending permits for 22 others. Only two permits have been approved.
The corps began with 281 requests.
“We attempt to update that on a weekly basis,” Noe said.
The corps stopped issuing permits more than two years ago as the drought began to dry up the lake. The agency released the moratorium as the lake’s elevation began rising last year.
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 possibility is ... that we will have permits available after we run through this lottery process,” Noe said. “In that case, we would go back to our standard policies — that would be a first-come, first-serve basis.”
Information would be sent out at the time, explaining procedures and possibly saying how many permits are still available.
Noe said that so far, the corps hasn’t run into any real confrontations over dock permits.
“We have those who, when we call them up and say they’ve been denied, laugh at us and say, ‘Yeah, I knew it. I just thought I’d try again,’ ” he said.
“Then we have those who ... are trying every ‘what if’ to get it to happen. ‘What if I did this?’ or ‘What if I modified this?’ As an adjacent landowner, I can see their points — they’re wanting to get that dock, and that’s why we’re really having to stick to the shoreline management plan pretty closely.”
Noe said a review panel generally comprising six people in various levels of corps leadership considers each request.
“So, if somebody wants to appeal our decision, they can do so — the possibility is there,” he said. “But ... pretty much, an appeal has already been processed six levels high.”