By Megan Reed
DCN Regional Staff
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will delay an increase in permit fees for docks on Lake Lanier, following an announcement earlier this year about increases in 2020. Those increases were challenged by several legislators, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.
The Corps will hold off on permit fee increases to do a national review of shoreline management fees, according to a social media post from the Corps’ South Atlantic Division.
The increases, announced in June, would have gone into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, and affected the Corps’ South Atlantic Division. Under the revised fee schedule, new dock or facility permits would have gone from $400 to $835, and re-issue permits would have increased from $175 to $835.
In June, Collins, a Lake Lanier resident and dock owner, sent a letter to the Corps asking for an explanation for the permit fee increases. Then in August, he was included in another letter asking the Corps to justify the fee hike and suggesting that a gradual increase would have been better.
Collins said he was happy to hear that the fee increase is on hold.
“I’m very encouraged that the Corps took our concerns seriously and made the decision to hold off on increasing permit fees. Residents of the Ninth District living on or near Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell — and those throughout the southeast living near Corps waterways— will no longer be hit with significant and unexpected fee increases come January,” Collins said in a statement.
Collins said he had been in contact with Maj. Gen. Diana Holland, who oversees the South Atlantic Division, and he hoped to work with the Corps as it evaluates the fees.
“I want to thank Maj. Gen. Holland for meeting with me today to discuss my concerns and explore ways in which the Corps could accomplish their intended goal without placing an undue burden on individuals and families living throughout the southeast,” he said Monday. “I look forward to continuing to engage with the Corps as they study this issue.”
Jennifer Flowers, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association, said she was grateful for Collins’ advocacy and was also glad the Corps was reevaluating its decision.
“We applaud the South Atlantic Division for actually listening and having the courage to push the dock fee increase back and really look at it on a broader, wider scale,” Flowers said.
She said she hopes the Corps includes more stakeholders such as the association and dock owners as it reconsiders the fees. That public input was missing from the first decision to increase fees, she said.
“One of the biggest concerns was that it was around a 430% increase in the (re-issue) dock fee, and there were concerns that there was no information backing up that number or the significant increase,” Flowers said. “There were no details of why it had to be increased that much at one time.”
According to the corps, the increase had been needed to cover the costs of administering the permits.