Start the permit process for Lake Martin shoreline work now, before a new Alabama Power Company permit fee structure goes into effect next year. Alabama Power Company has announced that its first permit fee increase since 2005 will become effective on Jan. 1, 2020.
Permits are required for any residential shoreline work or construction along the shoreline of Lake Martin, including seawalls, repairs, docks, boat houses and home building, as well as commercial work that applies to new marinas, pumps and projects. Non-compliance fees also will be increased.
Permit fees for work begun or conducted after the first of the year on projects for which permits are issued and the fee paid in 2019 will be charged based on the current schedule, which could be a significant savings on some projects, an Alabama Power spokesperson explained, so anyone planning permitted work is urged to begin the permitting process now.
The general construction fee for new structures or added footage to existing structures will increase from $250 to $400, an increase of more than 60 percent. In addition, general repairs that currently carry no permit fee will be $200 in 2020, and modifying a permit after it has been issued will no longer be free but will cost $100 for the updating of the permit.
The greatest increases will be felt in encroachment situations. An after-the-fact fee for non-permitted work discovered post-build currently set at $250 would be $600 after the first of the year. And failure to remove a dilapidated structure, which currently carries no fee, will cost $800, plus restoration/mitigation costs.
Permits allow the power company to monitor repairs and improvements according to a quality standard designed to protect and enhance the scenic, recreational, environmental and cultural values of the lake for the benefit of all lake users and residents.
For example, lakeshore use permits provide residents access to the water through structures like docks and boathouses.
Permits can be used to help residents protect their lakeshore properties from erosion by obtaining authorization to install bank stabilizations along the shoreline.
The permitting program also helps protect the shoreline and the environment while ensuring recreational opportunities for all lake users.
The last time Alabama Power adjusted its permit structure was 2005 – nearly 15 years ago. Much has changed over that time; one thing being that inflation has gone up more than 30 percent since 2005, and regulations have increased the need for services that may not have existed 15 years ago.
“The permitting process is one of the most important tools we have to ensure that public safety is a top priority through permitting guidelines that help us maintain water storage capacity, protect the scenic, environmental and cultural qualities of our lakes and enhance quality of life for all lake users and residents,” said Thomas St. John, Alabama Power Shoreline Management manager.
Permits have been required for construction along Alabama Power’s 3,500 miles of lake shoreline – including Lake Martin’s 880 shoreline miles – since 1992. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates Martin Dam and other Alabama Power lakes and hydro projects, allows utilities to establish fees to help cover the costs of administering a permit program.
“The company hasn’t had any fee adjustments in nearly 15 years,” St. John said. “Even with the changes, our fees will be in line or less than what other utilities with hydro reservoirs charge for similar services.”
For each permit, shoreline management team members often make as many as two to three site visits. This close and careful review ensures each permitted project meets lake- and river-specific guidelines, the spokesperson said.
“Shoreline management team members are dedicated to serving our lake communities,” St. John said. “We will meet with our customers and will help walk them through the process, making sure they understand the big picture and protect the lakes we all love.”
Those considering any work along the shoreline of Lake Martin are encouraged to contact the local Alabama Power Shoreline Management Office and apply for a permit before the new fee structure goes into effect at the beginning of next year. The local shoreline management office is located at 1296 Tallassee St., Dadeville. For the full fee schedule, call the shoreline management office or visit the website at apcshorelines.com/permits.