The Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission will conduct a community meeting Thursday to discuss the ongoing review of Smith Mountain and Leesville lake’s Shoreline Management Plan.
Residents and business owners are encouraged to attend and provide comments and recommendations for the plan that will be provided to Appalachian Power Co.
The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at Eastlake Community Church in Moneta.
The Shoreline Management Plan was created in 2003 as part of Appalachian Power’s relicensing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The license allows the power company to operate Smith Mountain Dam and the entire project boundary that encompasses both Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes.
According to the Shoreline Management Plan provided on Appalachian Power’s website, its purpose is to “provide guidelines and regulations for shoreline development at Smith Mountain and Leesville lakes.
The SMP must also ensure the protection and enhancement of the (Smith Mountain) Project’s recreational, environmental, cultural and scenic resources and the project’s primary function, which is the production of electricity.”
Appalachian Power has authority along the shoreline of the two lakes. On the more developed Smith Mountain Lake, lakefront property owners often have to apply for permits to make changes along their shoreline. Permits are necessary for constructing docks, installing riprap along the shoreline, sedimentation removal or smaller projects like removing vegetation along the shoreline.
FERC requires a periodic review of the Shoreline Management Plan since it was first created in 2003. The last review was in 2014. This current review will continue until early next year when Appalachian Power will present any newly proposed changes to the plan to FERC.
Neil Holthouser, Shoreline Management Plan coordinator for Appalachian Power, said work is currently being done internally to improve the Shoreline Management Plan and make it more clear for shoreline property owners. Those proposed changes will be provided along with any comments from the public from the multiple community meetings held by TLAC.
“We think these clarifications could help make our administration of the plan more efficient and predictable for property owners,” Holthouser said.
Along with the internal review, Holthouser also praised the efforts of TLAC to obtain feedback from the community about the plan and how it has been implemented. In addition to the meeting scheduled for Thursday, TLAC has held two previous meetings; one for lakefront developers and another for dock builders and businesses that provide dredging services and shoreline stabilization.
TLAC Chairman Lorie Smith said the meetings are essential to assure that residents are provided with an opportunity to address their concerns with the current Shoreline Management Plan. Feedback provided at any previous or future TLAC meetings concerning the plan are recorded and provided to Appalachian Power. They will also be included as part of the plans review provided to FERC.
“It is our hope to streamline processes and make them more applicable,” said Kristina Sage, TLAC’s executive director.
Once TLAC has collected comments from the public from the previous and upcoming meetings, Sage said they will meet with Appalachian Power early next year to discuss community feedback that could lead to changes to the Shoreline Management Plan. The plan will then be submitted to FERC which will begin the final approval process.