New regulations will cause business on Norris Lake to become more expensive for many marina owners this year. This could affect jobs and prices for customers. The Shoreline Alliance is taking legal action against the Tennessee Valley Authority over some of these regulations, which were slated to begin Jan. 1.
“This is truly a David and Goliath thing,” said David Merritt, from the Shoreline Alliance. “TVA has 110 lawyers.”
For the past year, the Shoreline Alliance has been raising money to file a suit against TVA. The funds have been obtained in $20 and $30 increments across five states.
Now, the preparation has culminated in legal action.
“We did file a complaint in federal court in Jackson, Tenn.,” Merritt said. “TVA did all they could to keep it from being heard.”
On Jan. 17, the Shoreline Alliance will seek a temporary injunction in a federal court in Jackson. The purpose of the temporary injunction is to prevent TVA from enforcing the new regulations until there is a full hearing. At the hearing on Jan. 17, the Shoreline Alliance is hoping to provide enough evidence to prove it could possibly win at a full hearing.
“Whatever is decided by the federal court will apply to everyone in every state,” Merrit said.
The Shoreline Alliance’s ultimate purpose is for TVA to reevaluate its purposes regarding the new regulations, Merritt said.
“All we want it to be is fair,” he said.
The Shoreline Alliance has one primary attorney, Daniel Norwood, of Norwood and Atchley.
“Our contention is the biggest damage is the damage to the human environment,” Merritt said.
TVA has proposed new regulations and increased fees that threaten to destroy social communities built around marinas and campgrounds, Merritt said.
Most owners are experiencing a 1,000 percent rate increase, Flat Hollow Marina owner Gary Farwick said.
While TVA claims the new regulations are to make everything fair and consistent, not everybody will be subject to the new fee structure, Farwick said.
“All they’re doing is raising the rates of everybody they’re already charging,” Farwick said. “TVA keeps saying they’re doing this because they’re making everything fair and consistent, but it’s nowhere near fair and consistent.”
“This whole thing stems from what TVA’s doing with these regulations, increased fees, and illegal taxes that start Jan. 1,” Merritt said. “It’s a tax in sheep’s clothing. They are bringing devastating consequences to thousands of people’s lives all along the 11,000 miles of TVA waterways. That’s the real damage.”
These social communities are maintained because the marinas and campgrounds exist, Merritt said. However, the new regulations threaten the existence of the marinas and campgrounds, and therefore threaten the existence of the social communities that thrive around them.
“In this case, they (TVA) are causing irreparable harm to the human environment,” Merritt said. “It’s not about the money. The money can be replaced.”
However, if somebody has 50 friends that meet in social environments that are provided for by the marinas and campgrounds on the TVA waterways, and the new regulations cause these marinas and campgrounds to go out of business, these friendships can’t be replaced, Merritt said.
TVA will respond to the Shoreline Alliance’s request for a temporary injunction at the appropriate time, which is in court, TVA spokesperson Travis Brickey said.
TVA currently maintains there’s no reason to hurry up and get an injunction, Merritt said. However, the Shoreline Alliance pointed out the new regulations require campground owners to tear down decks and covers within campgrounds. This is the permanent structure requirement.
“Everybody has to come out of the campsites for two weeks of the year,” Brickey said.
Towards the end of the season, all campers will have to vacate their campsites in TVA campgrounds for a two-week period. Before campers vacate their campsites, they must remove permanent structures such as decks and roofs.
“The campsites are not intended for permanent structures (like decks or roofs),” Brickey said.
During the two weeks campers are gone, TVA will inspect the campground to make sure it’s safe and everything is working properly, Brickey said. After the two-week period is complete, campers will have equal chances to choose campsites.
TVA has agreed not to enforce the permanent structure requirements at 69 marinas and campgrounds until Jan. 31, Brickey said.
However, the new fee structures went into affect Jan. 1.