Marina proposal worries lake residents

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By Charlotte Underwood

A recent application to build a 799-boat slip marina across from Camp Galilee is making waves.

On March 19, an application was sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority proposing a commercial marina on Norris Lake, near Heatherly’s Point.  

This location just happens to lie directly across from the portion of the lake where Camp Galilee laid down its roots over 50 years ago.

The proposed work consists of a 799-boat capacity marina, which would be open to the general public, according to the Army Corps of Engineers information.

The LaFollette United Methodist Church currently owns the land where the proposed marina would be built.

“The church is the owner of this property and there is a contract pending.  The public notice filed with reference to building a boat dock has reference to TVA’s responsibility to rule on such a proposal prior to the sale,” said Pastor of the LaFollette United Methodist Church, Dr. Kenneth Faught.

The contract between the church and the potential buyer does not allow the church to comment publicly on the pending sale, which is conditioned upon TVA’s decision regarding the development of a public access property, according to Faught.

Local businessman Mark Hoskins is the potential buyer who has applied to build and manage the marina.

“My intent is to construct and operate an environmentally friendly public marina that will incorporate a modern facility with southern charm and local hospitality and a family oriented atmosphere,” said Hoskins, who applied for the proposed marina over a year ago.  

Camp Galilee Missionary Manager Bill Bennett is worried the proposed marina will create safety issues at the camp.  Galilee’s swim area is located directly across from the proposed marina site, according to Bennett.

“If they have that much traffic in that area, we will no longer be able to allow our campers to swim or go out in canoes,” said Bennett.  He also worries a dock that large would completely enclose the cove.

“The marina will be constructed in strict accordance by guidelines that have been established by TVA and the Army Corps,” said Hoskins.  He pointed out that TVA and the Army Corps of Engineers will be in charge of estimating the demand and regulating the actual capacity of the marina.  

At this stage Hoskins said he had no idea how large the marina would be, if approved.

Bennett reported problems in the past with “careless jet skiers” coming into the area and worries that with a public marina the problems will only escalate.

“The quietness of our camp and the tranquility of the lake that the kids get to experience will be severely impacted by a marina of that size,” Bennett said with concern.

Hoskins said he intends the marina to be a family oriented dock and if alcohol is available at the facility, it will be monitored closely.

“The marina will be constructed in phases to minimize the impact to Norris Lake and the surrounding communities,” Hoskins said.  

Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider the application, as long as the request is sent in by April 18, according to the public notice.

Bennett said he had sent a formal letter requesting a public hearing and thought other residents of the area might do the same.

Other residents in the Norris Crest and Turkey Cove communities are concerned about the construction of the proposed marina as well, according to Bennett.

The public notice also states the proposal must receive approval from TVA and water quality certification from the state of Tennessee as part of the Clean Water Act.

Bennett said he hopes the community will rise up and say another marina is not needed in the area.

“There are already three public and one private marinas within two to three miles of us as it is,” said Bennett.  Shanghai, Sugar Hollow and Springs Dock, along with Deerfield’s private marina are all fairly close to Heatherly’s Point.

“This facility will make available slips for people who own the interior lots at Norris Crest and Turkey Cove, which would facilitate their access to the lake,” Hoskins pointed out.

He addressed Bennett’s concern that the marina would make it unsafe for campers to swim and canoe in the cove.

“If the marina is constructed, it will be a no-wake zone, meaning it will be safe for swimmers; the way it is jet skiers can race up and down the cove,” said Hoskins.

He also addressed Bennett’s concern the cove would be entirely closed off as a result of the marina.

“As regulated by the TVA, the marina cannot occupy more than two-thirds of the cover during summer pool,” said Hoskins.

Bennett worries that when lake levels drop in the winter, the boat slips will be extremely close to Galilee’s shoreline.

Hoskins said he does plan to speak with the surrounding public to address any concerns that they may have.

All comments and concerns in regards to the proposed Pointe Marina are to be sent to Regulatory Branch, 3701 Bell Road, Nashville, TN 37214, attention: J Ruben Hernandez.

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