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TLAC adds new no-wake zone, improves another

Mariners Landing (copy)

The Pointe at Mariners Landing’s no-wake zone was given approval by the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission to install six no-wake buoys around its docks.

The Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission approved some changes to navigation around the lake at its June 14 meeting in an effort to improve safety around the lake.

A long-discussed no-wake zone at The Point at Mariner’s Landing in Huddleston was unanimously approved by commission members. Efforts have been ongoing since 2020 to slow down boat traffic around the community’s nearly 200 boat slips.

Mariner’s Landing’s application requested six no-wake buoys around the multiple boat slips at The Point. With the approval by TLAC, the application will now go to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources for a final vote.

TLAC also approved an application by The Dock at SML in Penhook to make changes to its no-wake zone including an additional no-wake buoy. The marina currently has only one no-wake buoy more than 150 yards from the dock.

“What we wanted to do was to have a modification to put two no-wake buoys out there just because people have a tendency to disregard one,” said Chris Baker, marina manager.

Baker presented the TLAC board with an additional concern at the June 14 meeting of the addition of several orange buoys from a private dock neighboring the marina. He said the buoys, set at 75 feet from the private dock, are making navigation difficult in the cove.

With the orange buoys impeding boat traffic, Baker asked if the application could be altered to move the marina’s no-wake buoys closer to the marina at about 50 or 60 yards. He said the current buoys location at nearly 150 yards out was likely not its original location and was likely much closer when it was first put in place.

“I think it would cause the boaters to use a little bit more patience if we moved them back a little,” Baker said.

Neil Holthouser, Appalachian Power representative on the TLAC board, said the buoys seen around many private docks on the lake are not allowed and made a note of the buoys near the marina. He said a permit from Appalachian Power to build a dock below the 800 foot contour of the lake does not include personal buoys.

“When someone puts swim buoys out, they are throwing their arms around a greater geography than they are permitted,” Nolthouser said. “We do encourage people to come to TLAC if there is a wake issue or safety issue.”

While there was some discussion of delaying the application and sending it back to the navigation committee for further review due to the new request to move the no-wake buoys closer in, the TLAC board agreed to move forward to allow the marina to have the new buoys in place sooner this summer.

The recommendation for approval by TLAC for the no-wake buoys modifications at The Dock at SML will also go to DWR for final approval.

The addition of a shoal marker in the Penhook area of the lake near channel marker B1 was also approved on June 14. According to a report from the navigation committee, the location where the shoal marker will be placed is as shallow as 2 feet in some places.

“There are vessels that try to go through there and it is just not safe,” said Lorie Smith, TLAC chairman.

The new shoal marker was unanimously approved by the TLAC board and will go to DWR for a final vote.

Applications for no-waksurfing zones was also discussed by TLAC. There is currently only one application for a no-wakesurfing zone in the Merriman Run area of the lake. A public hearing for the no-wakesurfing zone is tentativley set for July 19 at 6 p.m. at the TLAC office, but is subject to change. The date will be finalized in the next two weeks ad advertised in local newspapers.

Smith said TLAC staff has spent a lot of time on the application to assure that everything is in order since this will be the first test for the new no-wakesurfing zones approved last year. “This is our first application,” Smith said. “This is a very sensitive matter. We need to get this right.”

TLAC also welcomed a new executive director at the June 14 meeting. Kristina Sage was hired to the position following the retirement of Paula Shoffner in March.

Sage has had previous involvement with several lake boards. She has previously served on both the TLAC and Smith Mountain Lake Association board. She also previously ran Bay Rock Marina in Hardy.

“It’s great to be here,” Sage said. “It’s great to be back.”

Sage’s first day in the position was June 13.

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