TVA anticipates it will approve a permit to develop a new commercial marina on Norris Lake.
Local businessman Mark Hoskins is seeking approval to develop the marina on land he is attempting to purchase from the LaFollette United Methodist Church at Heatherly’s Point.
“The whole purchase of the land is pending an opinion from TVA,” Hoskins said. “I’m still pursuing it. It’s all in TVA’s hands, and has been for years.”
Before an individual can build a structure that obstructs the waterways, TVA must grant a 26a permit. These are required for anything from personal docks to commercial marinas and bridges. TVA issues about 2,000 26a permits a year.
Hoskins applied for a 26a permit in June 2008. TVA is in the final stages of issuing the permit.
“Making sure everything’s in line,” TVA spokesperson Travis Brickey said.
“I definitely expect it to come through this year, next couple months,” TVA Recreation Group Senior Manager James Adams said.
In considering approval of Hoskins’ 26a permit, TVA and the United States Army Corps of Engineers jointly prepared a Final Environmental Assessment. TVA also issued a Finding of No Significant Impact. These were both released on April 26.
“I know that this is huge,” Hoskins said, in reference to the FONSI. “But I don’t know what the next step is.”
Hoskins has proposed a marina with 500 boat slips, a restaurant, retail marina store, a gas dock platform, floating docks, adjacent parking lots, an aboveground fuel storing area and a public boat-launching ramp. Originally, it was to be a 799-slip marina. But Hoskins has since adjusted his proposal to a 500-slip marina.
The 26a permit will be approved in two phases, initially allowing for the construction and operation of 300 boat slips. Construction and operation of the additional 200 boat slips will depend on TVA boating capacity and safety assessments after the 300 slips are complete.
Hoskins plans to build the marina in phases, as dictated by consumer demand, according to the environmental assessment. The first phase includes construction and operation of a scaled down marina store and restaurant and construction of 60 covered slips, the boat launch, parking areas, roadways, the fuel pumping dispensing system and sewage pump out station, according to the environmental assessment. Phase two would begin once the first 60 slips are 70 percent occupied. Phase two, along with phases three through seven, involves adding 60 boat slips. Phase eight involves installing 80 boat slips. Hoskins will progress to the each phase when the marina reaches 70 percent capacity. At phase five, the marina will have to be reevaluated by TVA before any more boat slips can be installed; it will have reached its 300 slip capacity by that phase. As the marina develops, Hoskins plans to expand the marina store and restaurant.
Bill Bennett, director of Galilee Bible Camp, is among opponents to the proposed marina, which would be located across the cove from the camp.
Bennett feels the proposed marina’s close proximity to Galilee Bible Camp would be invasive.
“It will not be beneficial to the camp environment,” Bennett said. “The main thing is, it’s just been a real quiet cove for (over 50) years. (The marina will) add a lot more noise to the cove. The whole atmosphere of that cove (will change) if that marina (comes in).
If the marina is built, and all 500 slips are rented, there could be an increase in boating traffic in the area. This increase in density could be at or near threshold levels during summer peak use holiday weekends, according to the Environmental Assessment prepared by TVA and the USACE.
“The camp has been here since 1958, and has provided a service to Campbell County and the surrounding counties,” Bennett said. “I feel like we’re doing a service to Campbell County, and have for years.”
Bennett feels this service is being ignored for the sake of bringing money into the county.
“When people think about revenue, they don’t think about the (price),” Bennett said. “If you bring (in more alcohol sales), you have to bring in more police to pick up the mess.”
Bennett is also concerned about people drinking at a restaurant that is located close to the camp.
“There is no way of knowing who will be at that marina,” Bennett said.
Bennett admits those who come may be responsible. But parents let their children come to Galilee Bible Camp, he said.
“I know what happens when people drink and are on the water,” Bennett said. “If somebody does indulge too much, and is boating…”
Bennett feels the traffic on roads would be affected by another commercial marina.
Roads leading to the proposed marina would experience a slight increase in traffic, according to the environmental assessment. The increases would be concentrated primarily on Demory Road near the marina site.
Bennett also questioned the need for the marina.
“There’s really not a need for another marina,” Bennett said. “Do we need another marina with 500 boat slips?”
Sequoyah Marina and Stardust Marina each have 350 boat slips, Shanghai has 200 and Springs Dock and Ramp has 180, according to the environmental assessment.
Some of Bennett’s concerns were addressed in the environmental assessment.
“They kind of addressed (them) in the (environmental assessment), but they aren’t addressed to my satisfaction,” Bennett said. “In fairness to TVA, they have looked at these things, and they have come up with that they think are viable options. I just don’t think they are viable options.”
Some people made public comments on a draft environmental assessment. TVA responded to some of these in the Final Environmental Assessment. Those who commented weren’t identified.
One person commented that the marina wasn’t needed.
“There are plenty of marinas in the area and the project should be denied or scaled back further,” the comment said.
“The applicant has presented TVA with several proposals and over time has reduced the number of slips from 799 to 500 at complete build out,” TVA and USACE responded. “Furthermore, in order to reduce potential impacts to water-based recreation, a permit condition has been developed that would limit the approval to 300 slips at this time. A request from the applicant for additional slips would be considered after the 300 slips are at 70 percent occupancy and approval would be contingent on further consideration of potential impacts to water-based recreation through a boating density analysis by TVA.”
Another person public comment raised concerns about Galilee Bible Camp.
“Proposed marina would negatively impact the adjacent Galilee Bible Camp and its campers,” the comment said.
“The Galilee Bible Camp property is located approximately 1,000 feet west of the marina limits,” TVA and USACE said. “USACE estimates that few vessels would likely use this area west of the marina, particularly the Galilee Bible Camp frontage. Some outside fishing boats intending to go navigate to the head of the cove would first need to go by the length of the marina and in so doing should be moving at a ‘no-wake’ speed as required by Tennessee boating laws. Unsafe and irresponsible behaviors would be managed by marine law enforcement personnel.”
Incidentally, another comment complained about the lack of law enforcement on the lake.
In considering Hoskins’ proposal, TVA added certain conditions he must meet. These conditions were explained in the environmental assessment and the FONSI.
“Those conditions have been negotiated over the past four years,” Hoskins said. “I agree with all mandates.”
Hoskins is aware of the conditions and intends to move forward with the project once he receives the nod from TVA.
Among the conditions are:
View the full Final Environmental Assessment and FONSI at: http://www.tva.gov/environment/reports/pointe_marina/index.htm.