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Corps to charge more for private docks on Lanier

LAWRENCEVILLE - Keeping a boat dock behind your house on Lake Lanier will cost noticeably more starting Jan. 1.

That's when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the popular impoundment at Gwinnett's northern tip, will begin charging an administrative fee for permits and licenses there and at several lakes in the Southeast.

About 9,300 dock permits have been issued on Lake Lanier, and the fee will help cover the cost of processing the paperwork and inspecting each one, said Marilyn Phipps, spokeswoman for the corps' Mobile office.

"We have been authorized (by Congress) to charge the fee for sometime, but we have been trying to find an equitable means to do it," Phipps said.

"That has made us one of the later districts in the Corps of Engineers to implement it."

Lake Lanier and its shoreline are federal property, and waterfront land owners who install boat docks must get a five-year permit from the Corps of Engineers.

The docks must be inspected by the corps when they are installed, and then again when the permit is renewed every five years.

Now, permit applicants must pay a $10 dock fee and a $25 inspection fee, along with $50 if they build a walkway and $35 if they install electricity or water.

Those fees will remain the same after Jan. 1, but the administrative fee will up the cost of a new dock permit by $365, while renewing an existing permit will cost another $140.

Modifying an existing permit, which must be done if a dock is expanded, will cost another $90.

Revenue generated by the fee at Lake Lanier will go back to the corps office at Buford Dam, Phipps said. The other fees that are already collected are put in the federal budget, she said.

Dock owners recently began getting letters from the corps explaining the new fees.

Jackie Joseph, a Gwinnett resident with a boat dock behind her house off Buford Dam Road, said she has no problem with the new charge.

"I think it's a fair adjustment," Joseph said. "I don't believe it's going to be restrictive to anyone."

Joseph, who is president of the Lake Lanier Association, which represents almost 3,000 lake users, said she and others have questioned how the corps has been able to monitor the shoreline with the money they receive.

"I just don't know how they have operated without charging some elevated fee before now," Joseph said. "I know it has been an issue for quite a length of time."

A message left Monday with Chris Lovelady, the chief ranger for the corps at Buford Dam, was not returned.

The new fee will also apply to: Lake Allatoona, Lake Walter F. George, West Point Lake, Lake Hartwell, J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Lake Seminole.

The corps has also considered another fee that would let it train dock inspectors, but that proposal has been put on hold for now, Phipps said.