Marina expansion at Lake Murray stirs wave of opposition

tflach@thestate.comMarch 18, 2013 

— A big fuss has erupted over a marina’s effort to add space for a dozen more boats in a small cove on Lake Murray.

The request by Windward Point Yacht Club is running into a wave of opposition from nearby homeowners who say it’s too much in an area already congested with watercraft.

“It’s gotten to the point where the marina is taking over our cove,” said Bill Brebner, who lives in the nearby Yacht Cove condominiums.

There are nearly 300 slips – just over half of them at the marina and more than 100 additional at the condominiums – in a cove around the corner from a sailing club and boat launch on the north side of the manmade lake’s dam.

It’s a setup allowed nearly 30 years ago, before adoption of development controls that would prevent it today.

Homeowner protests against the marina’s expansion caught the attention of federal officials who oversee the lake.

Officials at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a Feb. 11 assessment of the plan that “it appears that the proposed dock expansion does not conform to the requirements” of shoreline development standards.

A final decision is pending, as the agency looks at the situation. FERC oversees the management of waterways such as Lake Murray that were originally build for hydropower.

Boaters who don’t live on the 47,500-acre lake want more space to keep vessels, marina owner Jim Leslie said. It’s the final set of slips wanted on top of 158 now at the marina, he said.

Leslie disputes concerns that extra slips increase navigation hazards in the cove.

Experts who reviewed the expansion plan split on the proposal.

Officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers concluded there’s sufficient room to pass around the marina. But state natural resources officials and the Sierra Club say the marina is large enough already.

The feud is the latest conflict between the marina and nearby residents over problems with so many boats so close together in the narrow area.

“Adding more slips,” said Shep Rustin, who lives across from the marina, “is too many ants in the ant pile.”

Leslie’s daughter Jennifer, who helps operate the marina, calls the expansion proposal a balance between boaters and neighbors.

“We try to be as friendly to everyone as we can,” she said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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