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Corps stops issuing new dock permits on Lake Lanier

Lake Lanier has reached its limit of 10,615 docks, so no new dock permits will be issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.

However, the corps will revisit the number of dock permits every year and if any have become available in the meantime, starting in March, “we will review sites until those available permits have been issued,” Chief Ranger Ernest Noe said.

“At this time, we have a list that is about 170 strong with people wanting to have their sites reviewed,” he added.

Mary Thompson of Lanier Appraisal Service in South Hall said she expects the permit limit will affect sales on new lots.

Still, “there is a market for lake access and views without the high ticket sale price of those that include dock permits,” she said.

For years, the corps has made a concentrated effort to issue the remaining dock permits.

The agency has used a couple different methods to distribute the permits since 2004, when the cap was set by the agency’s Shoreline Management Plan and environmental impact statement.

Initially, the agency tried a first-come, first-served method, then stopped accepting applications in April 2007 when a drought gripped the Southeast and sent lake levels plunging.

Lanier dropped to a historic low water level of 1,050.79 feet above sea level on Dec. 26, 2007, with full pool at 1,071 feet in the summer. The drought also caused issues for existing docks, many of which were on dry land.

In 2009, the corps went to a lottery to distribute the remaining permits — nearly 174 at that point. But that still didn’t exhaust permits, so the corps reverted in September 2014 to first-come, first-served.

Overall, the process was a slow one for applicants and the corps.

“About one out of every 10 to 15 requests are approved,” Ranger Russell Lundstrum said in an interview last fall, when the number of available permits had dropped to 30. “They don’t meet site requirements for one reason or another.”