Reservoir plan could be updated

Residents voiced concerns about issues with current plan
Feb. 17, 2014 @ 07:11 PM

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to update its shoreline management plan for Kerr Lake, and a public forum last week prior to the snowstorm gave residents and property owners the chance to voice concerns about issues with the existing plan.John H. Kerr Reservoir Shoreline Management Plan, which has not been revised since 1995, provides guidance and information on effective management of the shoreline. The public comment period is scheduled to end next Friday, Feb. 28.

The plan also describes the types of private use allowed for boat docks, walkways, vegetative clearings and erosion control structures. Shoreline allocations, rules, regulations and other information relative to use of the shoreline are addressed in detail.

“It seems like most people here are looking at rezoning, and we tell them to write down their suggestions and put in the box,” said Chuck Opet, operations project assistant manager with the Army Corps of Engineers at John H. Kerr Reservoir.

He said the process usually doesn’t take more than a year.

Jean West, who owns a lake lot at Grassy Creek, said she came with her husband to suggest the Army Corps rezone the shoreline along their property to allow them to build a dock.

“They used to allow it, and all our neighbors have one built,” West said.

The couple purchased the lot after the shoreline was rezoned, but existing docks were grandfathered in because they were built before the rezoning.

The 1995 management plan breaks the shore into four different categories: limited development, public recreation, protected and prohibited access shorelines.

In January, a moratorium was placed on the issuance of new shoreline use permits and add-ons to existing permits, which is commonly applied during the Shoreline Management Plan review and update process.

The Army Corps of Engineers is in the scoping period of the process that involves a 30-day comment period, a scoping letter and public listening sessions.

In the next part of the process, a draft plan and Environmental Assessment is developed using comments received. The Army Corps of Engineers will hold another 30-day public comment period for the draft plan and Environmental Assessment and review the public comments for 90 days.

If the corps determine that impacts are not significant, it would prepare a finding of no significant impact. If it finds that significant impacts may or will occur, it would prepare an environmental impact statement.

Brenda and Tom Tankersley are hoping a shoreline management update might change existing policies for solar panels on docks, which are required to have light reflectors.

“It’s not high voltage; it’s not going to electrocute someone, but that is their concern, and I completely understand that,” Tom Tankersley said.

He said he finds the sessions useful because it allows people to open up the discussion about topics, such as solar panels, that might not be addressed otherwise.

“The more people they hear asking, the better,” he said.

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