Stakeholder Comments

George Vogel II, Esq. Comments to FERC 23 February 2005

posted Dec 6, 2014, 10:32 AM by Site administrator

As a learned and respected real estate attorney Mr. Vogel's comments are every bit as relevant today as they were in 2005:

" ... I believe it has been the opinion of attorneys and courts over the past 40 years that owners of property adjoining the lake have vested property rights in the land below the 800 foot contour line adjoining their property and to the use of the waters of Smith Mountain Lake. However, the position of AEP at this time is that adjoining land land below the 800 foot contour line, but merely have a revocable license. In my opinion this conclusion is wrong and contrary to the documentation of ownership of the land below the 800 foot contour line.
    ... The problem with revocable licenses is that they expire upon a conveyance of the property by the owner to whom the license is issued, and at the whim of AEP can be revoked at any time. The waterfront rights on Smith Mountain Lake and the right to construct boat docks is a very important element in the value of the owners property. A lot without access to the lake, even though it may have a view, may bring $40,000.00 to $50,000.00, whereas a similar lot with lake access and the right to construct a boat dock may bring $400,000.00 to $500,000.00.
   ... In my opinion AEP is using the Shoreline Management Plan and the licensing process to acquire rights to the property adjoining Smith Mountain Lake that they did not acquire in their purchases and condemnation proceedings 40 years ago."

Read Mr. Vogel's entire letter attached below:

The Shoreline Mismanagement Plan -- Dave Gresham Hardy, VA

posted Dec 6, 2014, 10:30 AM by Site administrator   [ updated Dec 8, 2014, 4:39 AM ]

    Many local folks don’t understand why the Shoreline Management Plan is having such a negative impact on our property values, even catastrophic in some cases. With that in mind, here is an explanation of a few of the many problems. Keep in mind that none of this addresses the fact that AEP and FERC had no right to dictate what we do with our property in the first place. That oversight belongs to state and especially local authorities, who were doing an excellent job of using common sense and comprehensive zoning when the “plan” was unleashed on us.

 ... I’ll summarize as follows: To create the Lake, AEP purchased the right to store water on our properties. This is all they bought. Forty years went by and then they essentially took our property rights and started telling us what we can or cannot do with our shorelines.  It’s over 10 years since they implemented this fiasco and the results are crystal clear: Life changing financial losses for some property owners and sorely diminished real estate values for everyone else. Enough is enough. Repeal the Shoreline Management Plan. 

Read the remainder of Dave's Commentary attached below:

Supporting Comments from Multiple Stakeholders

posted Dec 6, 2014, 9:58 AM by Site administrator   [ updated Dec 6, 2014, 4:17 PM ]

12/4/2014  The [Shoreline Management Plan, or SMP] lays out specific regulations associated with dock and marina construction, island protection, shoreline stabilization [erosion], flotation materials, resource protection areas, public access, vegetation cover, woody debris, protection of cultural resources and other activities on or around the lakes, Shepelwich [AEP Spokesperson] wrote in an email to ABC 13 News. The SMP seeks to balance progressive development and environmental issues around the lakes [Smith Mountain and Leesville].

12/3/2014 17:41:09
I think you are fools to support anyone wanting to build a 100 foot long dock on SML. I live there on the water and would love property rights for
homeowners but not abusers. How much would my property value decrease if I lived beside your poster child? CURB Commentary -- The SMP allows docks up to 100' long.

11/18/2014 23:16:03 I support the SMP.  CURB Commentary -- This stakeholder's dock built was before 2000 and never had to deal with an APCO inspection.

11/18/2014 15:26:28 They were helpful when - 1) I requested the over-sized dock, built prior to SLM, to be grandfathered ... and 2) when I needed exact determination on where to put a new retaining wall near the lake.

Multiple Complaints from Multiple Stakeholders

posted Dec 6, 2014, 9:55 AM by Site administrator   [ updated Dec 13, 2014, 6:37 AM ]

12/6/2014 My wife and I both live on the lake and we both support your efforts against APCO. My property lines extend out into the lake. I applied for approval for a Jet Ski ramp to be added to my dock. It was a nightmare, not to mention it cost me thousands of dollars to comply with their requirements. Those people are not at all reasonable, they remind me of arguing with a rock. If they feel they should be doing something useful, they should be working on the over flow of garbage flowing into the lake during heavy rain storms. Please accept our donation to help with the fight.

12/4/2014 13:51:49 We need rules and regulations. We also need someone that can understand them and have some common sense. I felt as if no one had any respect for me as a property owner. No one would even return my calls when trying to work with them. I could not get a permit to build my home due to an open permit on my dock.  I have never heard one person say that AEP was good to deal with. Not one person. Even the IRS is polite now.

11/21/2014 21:41:11 I had to wait a year for a riprap permit. I had spent a year putting together a shoreline plan--consulting experts ...  redacted at stakeholder request  ... Probably AEP will clobber me when I go to sell.  I live in fear!

11/21/2014 17:24:41
Held up closing, and they held up issuing a permit on another dock on a new construction house we were building down the street. They said we had to comply on the one dock before they would sign off on the other dock,very unfair two different property's and they knew we had two much money tired up in both homes and docks to fight and hold up closing any longer.  We bit the bullet and did what they wanted to get the property closed and get the permit on the other property.

11/21/2014 12:30:54 I purchased a lot in a pre-2005 subdivision with a deed stating a dock was allowed.  Due to a minor setback issue and neighbors unwillingness to give a waiver I went for and received an AEP variance . AEP then allowed the influence of the neighbors to make me get HOA approval before they would issue my dock permit (I am sure it would have been issued without HOA approval if the neighbors did not force this action)...After the HOA  ignored my request for approval, AEP would not recognize that HOA inaction was tacit approval, and is clearly stated in the HOA covenants. AEP's refusal resulted in protracted and expensive legal action on my part to secure a declaratory judgement from Franklin Co Circuit court. All this added $50,000 in legal and surveying expenses and the delay also cost me by loosing a lower dock builders quote.  The Franklin Co Judge stated that AEP's unwillingness to recognize the HOA's covenants was used as a "red herring" to deny my right to a dock.

11/20/2014 9:37:07 My dock access ramp had to be fixed because of 4 inches. They hit rock when driving poles. It cost me $5400 to get it fixed. They then wanted me to do all these plantings and destroy my walkway which diverts the water on my property. Once again they demanded more plants. I have not destroyed my walkway or planted any plants. I received a certified letter that no more permits would be issued to me and they would block any sale of my property until all their demands were met. Excuse my French but these people are pure a@#$%$#s to deal with. A dream has turned into the worst investment I have ever made. A pure nightmare.

11/20/2014 10:18:52 Simply cannot get rip-rap repairs and extension to unprotected 50' of shoreline done.  Erosion continues because of their SMP permit deceits,and demands.

11/19/2014 14:38:54 We applied for a permit for a new dock (replacement). APCO requires placement of our proposed storage room within 12 feet of the back of the dock. We have a 50' walkway to get to the "dock" area. Because our existing walkway is over 6' wide (a COMPLETELY arbitrary specification) APCO begins calculation of the 12 feet from where the walkway begins. In our case, the storage room would be 38 feet BEFORE the dock area begins. APCO's suggestion was to tear down our existing walkway & rebuild a walkway under 6 feet wide (cost = $10,000).

11/19/2014 12:27:06 Dock built @ 1997.  Jet ski floater and sand beach were added prior to July 2005.  Filed non-conforming documentation in 2005 - never heard back from AEP.   As I am now trying to sell property - contacted AEP to confirm all is in order.  Had to remove jet ski floater and sand beach as they were "not in prior to 2003."  Confusion - what was the 2005 non-conforming documentation all about?  $6000 to put beach in -- @2500 to remove it.

11/19/2014 12:27:06 Because my original floater was too big, I had to spend $7,000 to have 2 smaller floaters built. The floaters are dangerously small. More than 2 people on them and they start to capsize. People have almost been hurt getting on and off their boats.  I would have built a much bigger dock in 2006 if there had been no SMP.  I had a friend who had a permit to build a dock which he did and AEP kept pushing off his inspection because he didn't agree with some of the things they were asking him to do. They pushed their inspections past the expiration of his permit at which point he was required to remove a good portion of his dock because the shoreline management plan had been put in place. It cost him quite a bit of money.

11/19/2014 11:05:42 Our dock and property were inspected prior to the dock being built.  The inspector "Ken" noticed some trees that were cut below the 800 contour line but deemed them as having been cut before we purchased the property.  We had the poles installed and banded (no floor or roof) and then didn't go any further.  Our permit expired and when we applied to get our permit back to current, APCO came back to inspect and "Ken" was the inspector.  I guess enough time had passed that he forgot that he had deemed the cut trees below the 800 contour line as having been cut before we purchased the property.  He cited us and made us put in over $1,200 worth of plants plus the labor to install them.  We tried to remind him of the 1st inspection and he didn't remember so he wouldn't update our permit until the work was done and inspected.  Our entire property had not been cleared of trees at that point so the plants he made us plant will most likely have to be moved or removed.

11/18/2014 17:40:27 To date, I have had two surveys to my property done to satisfy APCO.  They recently asked me to get yet another survey done because the last survey didn't show the water depths in my cove and the opposite shoreline (although delineated with the proper lines) did not say El. 795' (neither was requested following the first survey).  News flash....these surveys cost money!  Every verbal exchange I have had with APCO representatives has changed numerous agreed upon items from the prior conversation.  I have done everything they have asked for two years, yet they change the rules each time we speak.  I have also been waiting over 2 years for an approved planting list for trees and shrubs from APCO AND I asked them for a copy of everything in my property file they have on record and I still don't have that either.  Needless to say I am fed up!!  I have over $100,000 ready to put into the economy for building supplies, a dock builder and a boat, fuel, etc. and APCO's bureaucracy prevents local merchants from receiving my money.

11/18/2014 17:18:46 I was required to pay for a survey of entire cove to add jet ski lift!  Told that although dock in front of my property, developer must fill out all requests for modification --developer now unable to be reached as out of business.. No answer to the simple ?--who now signs if I need to change something!

11/18/2014 17:15:59 Dock built by prior owner resulted in dock house on dock being perhaps 1-2 foot too far from shoreline, but could not be fit on any other part of the dock as built (i.e. a place closer to the shoreline). APCO demanded the dock house be removed as a requirement to obtain APCO permit.

11/18/2014 16:31:23 Several years ago, APCO reps came out inspecting docks and said the walkway was out of compliance because it flared out just before the stationary dock and shed.  We have not heard anything since that time and when I contacted the local office, I was advised not to worry about it since they never contacted me again.  Either at the end of Sept. or early Oct. this year, someone from APCO left a message indicating that they wanted to measure the inside of our shed.  I have not heard any more from them.

11/18/2014 15:36:33 Loss of 5 to 10 feet of land due to erosion in many places on two properties, reducing my access to the land we own under water and use of the water flooding it, raising cost of future development, and reducing land value, even to the point that County recognized the harm and reduced our valuation.

11/18/2014 14:45:18 During the renovation of our dock a couple years ago their process caused numerous delays in permitting and sign off.  Many times their own delays would cause the process/conversation to start over because they would forget where we last left off.

11/18/2014 14:34:42 We have tried to get a dock approved since 2012.  We were provided with wrong information initially.  Now AEP is requesting us to perform illegal acts in order to obtain a dock permit ... redacted at stakeholder's request ... Because we have not been able to get a dock, it has hurt dramatically our rental capability and kept our rental rates low.

Property Owner Survey Opinions Last Post at 12/02/2014 11:25:29

posted Dec 6, 2014, 9:00 AM by Site administrator   [ updated Dec 6, 2014, 11:01 AM ]

If I were to complain, I'd be fearful of APCO retribution

SMP regulations are reasonable

APCO's SMP enforcement is fair

APCO's SMP enforcement is consistent

APCO's staff was responsive

APCO's staff was helpful

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Riprap and other issues -- Anonymous

posted Dec 6, 2014, 8:52 AM by Site administrator

11/18/2014 15:36:33

AEP rep showed up unexpectedly during rip rap repair contract work.  Our contractor was told not to use cloth under many tons of touch up rip rap; he was shocked by the surprise order and perceived harassment and became very anxious for the impact on his business and livelihood - within two weeks of the incident the contractor died due to (what I recall to have been) a sudden cardiopulmonary failure - it appears that stress caused by the injustice and inappropriateness of AEP behavior contributed to his death. Prior to that we were asked to send photos from prior decades to document the state of vegetation and use and never received clarity about whether AEP would "require" modifications - the delay and uncertainty arising from the unlawful claim of rights in the application has resulted in loss of nearly 10 feet of property due to erosion and consequent flooding.  Prior to that we were required to submit dock measurements and drawings for a dock built decades ago over land we own, and uncertainty of AEP treatment of repairs has delayed repair

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