Smith Mountain Marine Business Association (SMMBA) comments on the revised SMP:

posted Apr 22, 2013, 6:03 AM by Site administrator   [ updated Aug 2, 2014, 10:00 AM ]


SMMBA represents marine related businesses that serve the communities of Smith Mountain and Leesville Lakes.  Our perspective and approach to comments relate to how to lessen the negative impact of unneeded SMP regulation on our business members, citizens that make use of our services, and the local economy.

SMMBA continues to support the earlier comments filed by the Tri-County Relicensing Committee on the 31 December 2010 Draft SMP (See eLibrary no. Number: 20110415-5003), and requests the Commission carefully consider those comments in their entirety, since there was overwhelming stakeholder support (over 70 comments) in support of those comments.

We have thoroughly reviewed the Offer of Settlement and its Appendix A. changes to the 31 December 2010 DRAFT SMP.  We acknowledge that many changes in this Offer of Settlement will benefit residents and the local business community.  Our comments that follow supplement the Offer of Settlement and address items missing from the SMP Steering Committee comments, previously filed by TCRC and endorsed by SMMBA and approximately 70 other stakeholders.

General Comments

Since the SMP was first invoked in September 2003 it has negatively impacted both the schedule and cost of doing business in this project.  Our members remaining in business reflect that pre-SMP it took hours to get necessary permits and to schedule inspections.  Post-SMP implementation, permits and inspections now take weeks to months to obtain, making it impossible to efficiently schedule work.  Pre-SMP, businesses spent time marketing and developing business; post-SMP, businesses spend that time processing and re-processing permits.  This has cost our community dearly and many long-time profitable businesses have disappeared, taking with them jobs and revenues that benefited our community.

Probably the most exasperating aspect of unneeded SMP regulation is that this regulation has failed to preserve or enhance the scenic, recreational and environmental attributes of the Smith Mountain Project.  In fact SMP regulation has negatively impacted those attributes it sought to protect and preserve:

·         Since SMP regulation, shoreline stabilization is more regulated than what the Army Corps of Engineer’s nationwide permit (NWP) 13 allows throughout the United States.  (NWP 13 permits stabilization up to 500 linear feet of shoreline with provisions to protect sensitive wetland habitats.)  The end result of the added SMP regulation is that the project boundary, which the SMP was designed to protect, is being eroded away by wave action from boating and wind.

·         Un-stabilized islands, a key project scenic resource, continue to disappear because of SMP imposed non-beneficial stabilization restrictions.

·         Dredging operations are limited to 8 months of the year and are more regulated than what ACOE NWP 18 allows, so less minor dredging is occurring, resulting in more properties losing access to project waters from tributary and stream sedimentation deposition.  Only four dredging businesses remain in limited operation.  The SMP requires the licensee be notified 10 days in advance of the planned dredging.  Inspections are performed by the licensee that too often deny the minor dredging in areas where dredging was previously performed.  We note that NWP 35 is proposed to be included in the SMP to permit maintenance dredging of marina basins and entrances and we view this as positive.  We also feel that the maximum dredge depth should be changed to allow for an 8 foot draw down.

·         SMP measures to protect a wooded “buffer function” restricts stabilization of the soils and discourages beneficial landscaping that positively halts upland erosion and resulting water quality degradation.

·         Maintenance of privately owned lands between the project boundary and the water’s edge has been virtually halted to encourage the growth of non-beneficial  and nuisance vegetation like black locust, scrub pine, paradise trees, blackberry bushes, poison ivy -- justified as beneficial scrub/shrub habitat.

·         Dead and dying trees continue to collapse into project waters adding to scenic blight and the debris burden -- justified as benefiting fishery habitat.

·         Increased sedimentation harms the native fishery, limits private and public recreation, degrades water quality and creates scenic blight.

The implementation of shoreline management hurt our local economy, resulted in jobs losses, increased the cost of doing business, discouraged private investment, added to the decline of real estate values and lowered revenues available to the surrounding counties.  Given the absence of any positive metric or indication that the Commission’s Shoreline Management policy has proven beneficial or is working in this project or any other Commission regulated project, the agency responsible for this costly regulatory blunder should be reducing requirements, collaborating with communities, and relying more on existing federal, state and local regulations.  Instead, the Commission continues to layer more regulation upon historically proven and effective regulations, increasing its licensee costs and driving the cost of electrical power.

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