FAQs

GENERAL

What is a Shoreline Management Plan?

A Shoreline Management Plan (often referred to as an SMP) is a comprehensive plan intended to manage the multiple resources and uses of a lake’s shoreline so that the resources and uses are consistent with a utility’s license requirements and project purposes, and address the needs of the public. The Shoreline Management Plan balances the many competing interests associated with the construction of structures along the shoreline.

Why did Appalachian Power Company (Appalachian) develop a Shoreline Management Plan?

Appalachian is licensed to operate the Claytor Project (Project) by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission.) The Project includes Claytor Lake. Appalachian has an obligation under its license from the FERC to manage the different occupancy and uses of Project lands and waters. This includes the construction of boat docks, piers and erosion control structures. The FERC license for the Project includes the requirement that Appalachian manage the lands within the Project boundary in such a way as to protect the resources of the Project. These resources include the environmental, public recreation, cultural, scenic, and power production resources.

Appalachian developed the Shoreline Management Plan to assist with the management of the area within the Project boundary. The goal of the Shoreline Management Plan is to provide public and private access, protect and enhance the non-power resources (scenic, recreational, and environmental) and the Project’s primary function, the production of electricity.

Prior to the approval of the Shoreline Management Plan, docks serving multi-family type dwellings and docks with more than 10 slips required resource agency review and prior FERC approval. One goal of the Shoreline Management Plan is to provide detailed requirements for these types of development plans that take into account the protection and enhancement of the scenic, recreational and environmental values so that a development plans meeting the SMP can be approved without additional agency and FERC review. An updated Shoreline Management Plan, as approved by FERC Order Approving Updated Shoreline Management Plan on November 13, 2017, is now in effect.

Why does the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s interest extend beyond the power production aspect of the project to the shoreline?

FERC has oversight and regulatory authority over all of the activities and lands within the Project boundary of the Claytor Project. Under Section 10(a)(1) of the Federal Power Act, FERC is required to ensure that any project for which a license is issued will be best adapted to a comprehensive plan for improving or developing a waterway for the use or benefit of interstate or foreign commerce, for the improvement and utilization or waterpower development, for the adequate protection, mitigation, and enhancement of fish and wildlife, and for other beneficial public uses such as recreation. In 1986, the Electric Consumers Protection Act amended the Federal Power Act to require FERC to give “equal consideration” to non-developmental interests when issuing a license for a hydropower project. To carry out its responsibilities, FERC has not only the authority, but also the obligation, to ensure that any uses of the project boundary will be in the public interest. To that end, FERC requires the licensee to have sufficient control of the reservoir and shoreline to protect the project’s recreational, scenic, environmental and other public uses.

What is the "Project boundary?"

The Project boundary for Claytor Lake is generally the area within the 1850-foot elevation contour reference to National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD), except in those areas defined by survey beyond the referenced elevation contour. The Project boundary is depicted on the Shoreline Classification Map (link “Project boundary” in previous sentence to Shoreline Classification Map).

Under what authority can Appalachian Power Company manage what is being built on the shoreline?

With few exceptions around the lake, Appalachian owns all the property lying below the 1850 foot elevation contour at Claytor Lake, where the full pond is at the 1846 feet elevation. For those locations that are exceptions, Appalachian still possesses land rights for that shoreline via Flowage Right and Easement Deeds which, like its fee simple ownership rights, give Appalachian legal rights to regulate what is built below the 1850 foot elevation contour. Appalachian does not prohibit all construction on its property or flowage easement lands below the 1850 elevation contour. However, as the licensee for the Project, Appalachian has the responsibility and obligation under its license from FERC to manage the different occupancies and uses of these Project lands. Appalachian must manage the Project lands in such a way as to protect the environmental, public recreation, cultural, scenic, and power production resources of the Project.

What is the status of the Five-Year Review of the SMP?

According to the SMP, Appalachian will initially review the SMP in 5 years following FERC approval. Subsequent reviews will be performed every 5 years. The review will be accomplished through consultation with a group of stakeholders similar to the steering committee. Revisions will be made to the plan based on this consultation. Further, the update will incorporate any revisions that are deemed necessary in order to protect the public recreation opportunities, aesthetic beauty, environmental features, and power production capability at the Project. SMP updates shall be submitted to the FERC for approval. At a minimum, the following entities must be consulted during any review and update of the plan: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Pulaski County and the Friends of Claytor Lake.

A revised SMP was filed with FERC on June 14, 2017. FERC issued a public notice on the SMP on August 8, 2017. FERC issued the Order Approving Updated Shoreline management Plan on November 13, 2017.

The updated SMP includes numerous changes including the following:

  • Incorporates amendments approved by the Commission by Order Approving and Modifying the Shoreline Management Plan issued on January 7, 2014.
  • Reduces approval processes for some uses while protecting environmental attributes.
  • Clarifies Steep Slope development.
  • Clarifies mapping
  • Allows shoreline stabilization in Conservation/Environmental with an Appalachian exception if utilizing bioengineering techniques.
  • Allows for uses that were previously not allowed or required a variance such as an additional walkway for ADA, taller docks, larger docks with an Appalachian Exception.
  • Allows cupolas to be exempt from height restrictions.
  • Decreases the amount of shoreline needed for a second dock.
  • Removed Fishing and Observation Piers from Public Use regulations removed (will address on a case by case basis)
  • Increases the amount of square footage allowed for multi-family docks.
  • Increases the number of slips allowed in High Density Multi-use Shoreline Classification
  • Clarifies use of boat covers
  • Clarifies use of bulkheads and retaining walls.
  • Allows replacement of docks, piers and similar structures within the 1850 foot contour elevation provided sufficient documentation is provided.
  • Improves previous inconsistencies in repeated regulations.
  • Clarifies measurement of vegetation to be removed and identifies replacement rate for vegetation to be replaced if removed without a permit from Appalachian.
  • Includes vegetation restoration rates if Project boundary denuded and there is no evidence of previous condition.
  • Clarifies that invasive species do not need a permit to be removed.
  • Removes references to US Army Corps of Engineer’s nationwide permits. (Applicants must contact the Corps prior to any shoreline stabilization and/or dredging activities.)
  • Added Exceptions (Section 3.3.2) which allows Appalachian to consider applications and permits without having to get prior FERC approval. Processes included for:
    • Additional 300 square feet to a single family dock for water dependent uses upon satisfaction of various conditions.
    • Exception to the 16 foot height restriction for single family docks upon satisfaction of various conditions
    • Additional walkway for single family docks (for handicapped access) upon satisfaction of various conditions.
    • Larger dock adjacent to steep slope upon satisfaction of various conditions.
    • Shoreline stabilization in the form of bioengineering or vegetation if adjacent to Conservation/Environmental because of wetlands, stream beds, National Heritage Communities or scrub/shrub habitat upon satisfaction of various conditions.
    • Bulkheads on an eroded bank of three feet or less upon satisfaction of various conditions.

Shoreline Management Plan Development Shoreline Classifications/Parameters

Who has been involved in the development of the Shoreline Management Plan?

The original Shoreline Management Plan was developed with the following stakeholders in ten meetings between February 21, 2008 and June 8, 2009). Pulaski County

  • Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation
  • Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality
  • Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries
  • Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources
  • Virginia Dept. of Health
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Friends of Claytor Lake
  • Skyline Soil and Water Conservation District
  • New River Land Trust
  • New River Valley Planning District
  • Virginia Outdoors

The amended Shoreline Management Plan was developed with the help of interested individuals, local governments, businesses, and state agencies. Appalachian held meetings with the aforementioned stakeholders regarding the proposed amendment to the Shoreline Management Plan on December 8, 2011, and February 21 and April 3, 2012.

The updated SMP, approved November 13, 2017, also included consultation with all of the aforementioned entities.

What is a "Shoreline Classification?"

The Shoreline Management Plan includes a shoreline classification system to identify categories of use along the shoreline within the Project boundary. The classifications are as follows:

  • High Density Commercial
  • High Density Multi-use
  • Public Use
  • Low Density Use (including low density commercial, low density public use, low density multi-use and single family-type residential)
  • Steep Slope Protection
  • Impact Minimization Zone
  • Conservation/Environmental

The exact definition of each of the classifications can be found in the Shoreline Management Plan. To define each shoreline classification, parameters were developed by a work group consisting of representatives from Appalachian, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Dept. of Environmental Quality, Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries, Pulaski County, Friends of Claytor Lake, and interested residents. These parameters can also be found in the Shoreline Management Plan.

What is a "Parameter?"

Parameters were developed for defining each type of shoreline classification. The parameters were then applied to the actual shoreline to determine how each section of shoreline would be classified. For example, the parameters for defining shoreline for future Low Density Use structures include:

  • Areas not otherwise classified, or
  • Shoreline with areas of existing single family docks and piers.

A complete list of parameters for each shoreline classification can be found in the Shoreline Management Plan.

Why was boating density used as a parameter?

Boat density was considered as a parameter in determining the type of shoreline that is suitable for future high-density boat dock projects. The intent is to not place a high-density use in an area of the lake that currently has an existing high-density boat use. This may be the opposite of how it is done on the land, but on land, additional lanes and traffic lights can be added as traffic increases. The lake is a fixed area that cannot be widened to accommodate increased boat traffic in a narrow cove.

Aerial photos of the lake on 13 randomly chosen holiday, weekend, and week days between April and October 2007 were collected and analyzed. Boating density grids were calculated for all aerial flights. The grids were converted to acres per boat. Appendix C of the Shoreline Management Plan contains the boating density maps.

REGULATIONS

Where can I get a copy of the regulations to build a dock?

Regulations can be found within the Shoreline Management Plan which is available at http://www.claytorhydro.com/relicensing/mgmtPlan.aspx or you may request a copy of specific regulations by calling (540) 489-2556 or emailing Lisa Hammock at lhhammock@aep.com.

How are Dock Limitation Lines/Extended Property Lines determined?

As defined in the glossary of the Shoreline Management Plan, dock limitation lines delineate dock construction limits between adjacent parcels. These lines are shown on the subdivision plot approved by Appalachian and the municipality and recorded in Pulaski County. Extended property lines are linear extensions of the property lines shown on county tax maps or on a recorded survey prepared by a Licensed Land Surveyor of those lines landward of the 1850-foot contour line projected into Project lands and waters for Claytor Lake.

As a developer, I want to give the owners of off-water lots in my subdivision a boat dock on the lake. What are my options?

There are several options available to serve off-water lots. A community dock in a low-density use classification allows two slips per 100 linear feet of shoreline. More than two slips per 100 linear feet of shoreline would require location in a High Density Multi-Use classification or in a High Density Commercial classification. In a High Density Multi-Use classification, community docks on a subdivision access lot or a courtesy pier with a boat ramp can serve off-water lots provided the structures meet the High Density Multi-Use regulations.

How do you count personal watercraft (PWC) slips?

Lift areas used for storing personal watercraft (e.g., jet skis, waverunners, etc.) are not counted in the total number of slips for the dock as long as the lift area dimensions are not such that it could be used or modified to dock a boat. These lift areas will be included in the overall square footage of the structure.

Why does my permit require the installation of reflectors on my dock?

All dock permits issued after the implementation of the Shoreline Management Plan on December 27, 2011 include the requirement to install white reflectors on each outermost waterward portion of the structure and every 6 feet on both sides. This is a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries recommendation to enhance navigational safety by helping to alert mariners of structures on the lake. Vessel operating lights reflected by the white reflectors help operators of vessels underway on the lake to distinguish both floating and permanent structures. Final inspections of docks and assignment of permit applications will not be issued until white reflectors have been installed.

I have a sink on my dock. Do I have to remove it?

Sinks and/or sanitary drains that existed prior to the implementation of the Shoreline Management Plan (December 27, 2011) shall not be modified, expanded, or rebuilt. No future permits will be issued until such sanitation facilities are removed from within the Project boundary.

Can my dock be rebuilt if it is damaged or destroyed?

Existing dock structures may be replaced if damaged or destroyed if documentation is submitted to Appalachian that provides proof satisfactory to Appalachian of the details of the structure as it existed prior to December 27, 2011. However, should you need to rebuild the enclosure or a walkway on your dock, you would have to do so in accordance with the regulations of the Shoreline Management Plan in effect at that time.

Do I need a permit from Appalachian to install an automatic boat cover on my dock?

An Occupancy and Use Permit is required to install an automatic boat cover if the boat cover extends beyond the existing footprint/aerial perimeter of the structure, thereby occupying and using additional Project lands and waters or if there is no current occupancy and use permit or lease in place for the structure in question. Boat covers that expand the non-conforming nature of a dock constructed prior to December 27, 2011 are not allowed.

My neighbor has a dilapidated dangerous structure. Is there anything I can do about it?

Appalachian will provide notice to Pulaski County and request that a County Building Inspector or a licensed design professional be assigned to review and evaluate the structure. The property owner will be notified and will be required to either perform maintenance work or remove the structure.

SHORLINE STABILIZATION

Will I be able to stabilize my shoreline?

Having natural shoreline is beneficial to the lake but it also needs to be balanced with the need to maintain the shoreline where wave action causes bank erosion. There are situations where erosion is not a problem such as natural beach areas or in wetland areas. In these cases, erosion control structures are not necessary.

If there is active erosion, property owners may make application for shoreline stabilization. Property owners are encouraged to first consider the installation of vegetation to control erosion (possible in the backs of coves), then bioengineering techniques (involves both plants and structure), and lastly hard-armoring (e.g., riprap). Shoreline Stabilization applications are available at http://www.claytorhydro.com/relicensing/mgmtPlan.aspx and clicking the “Forms” link, or you may request an application by calling (540) 985-2579 or emailing Lisa Hammock at lhhammock@aep.com.

Will I be able to riprap my shoreline and how does Appalachian define active erosion?

According to the Shoreline Management Plan, riprap will be allowed along the shoreline in areas experiencing active erosion. A definition of active erosion is included in the Shoreline Management Plan. Active erosion is defined as areas that are 1) bare and void of vegetation or other stabilizing material, 2) areas that are experiencing undercuts and/or sloughing off of the parent material, or 3) areas directly adjacent to the shoreline that have the potential to deposit sediment or soil material into the lake.

Do I have to replace the vegetation that is removed for the installation of shoreline stabilization?

Yes. Shoreline vegetation is important to the aesthetic qualities, environmental health and water quality of Claytor Lake. Vegetation enhances the natural beauty of the lakes, helps prevent water pollution and provides habitat for birds, mammals and fish.

Applications for Shoreline Stabilization Permit and for a Vegetation Permit are Applications are available at http://www.claytorhydro.com/relicensing/mgmtPlan.aspx and clicking the “Forms” link, or you may request an application by calling (540) 489-2556 or emailing Lisa Hammock at lhhammock@aep.com. The vegetative replacement rate is available in Table 2.5.10-1 of the Shoreline Management Plan.

Can I stabilize my shoreline with a bulkhead?

Bulkheads are not the preferred choice for shoreline stabilization due to their associated negative impacts to fish habitat and natural areas. However, there are settings/shoreline characteristics where bulkheads are necessary to effectively achieve stabilization, such as where the bank is very steep.

DREDGING

Will I be able to dredge around my dock?

According to the Shoreline Management Plan, maintenance dredging is allowed within existing slip and fairway areas.

Retaining shallow water habitat and not disturbing spawning areas are important to the ecology of the lake. The Shoreline Management Plan allows dredging according to certain guidelines. Dredging must be done outside the spawning period of March 1 to July 31. Only accumulated sediment can be removed and original lake bottom may not be altered. Dredging is prohibited within the buffer zone of any wetland area, and between contour elevations 1844 and 1846 in order to retain shallow water habitat.

All Corps and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality requirements also apply. Notification to Appalachian and the Corp is required for all dredging activities. See Section 2.5.8 of the Shoreline Management Plan for Appalachian’s dredging requirements.

For Corp requirements, please visit www.nao.usace.army.mil or call 757-201-7652.

VEGETATIVE COVER

Why is Appalachian requiring that the vegetative cover be retained along the shoreline?

Shoreline vegetation is important to the aesthetic qualities, environmental health, and water quality of Claytor Lake. Vegetation enhances the natural beauty of the lake, helps prevent water pollution, and provides wildlife and aquatic habitat.

What are the advantages of using native plants along the shoreline?

Native plants are environmentally friendly, require less maintenance and are cost effective, both in the nursery and in the landscape. In other words, they require less pesticides and fertilizer treatments and they conserve water.

  • Native plants are hardy, withstanding winter cold and dieback as well as drought conditions. Native plant material promotes biodiversity, provides food and shelter for native wildlife, and restores regional landscapes.
  • Native plants have evolved in place over geologic time. Their distribution across the natural landscape is due largely to adaptation to local and regional site and climatic conditions.
  • Native plants promote biodiversity, provide food and shelter for native wildlife, and restore regional landscapes. A native landscape can blend seamlessly with the surrounding natural landscape.
  • Native plants prevent future exotic and invasive plant introductions. Although many exotic, or non-native, plants are not invasive, some are. Invasive exotic plant material escapes, naturalize, spread, and replace the native plant communities. These exotics can be vectors of disease and insects. Kudzu, privette, and bittersweet are examples of exotics gone awry.

MISCELLANEOUS

Are beaches allowed?

The Shoreline Management Plan allows owners of beaches that existed prior to December 27, 2011 to maintain their beaches by adding additional sand above the 1846 elevation contour. However, these beach owners will have the responsibility to make sure the sand that is added to their beaches doesn’t erode away and decrease the water depth in the adjacent shoreline area. If this occurs, the beach owner may be required to dredge the accumulated sand. Existing beaches may not be expanded and new beaches will not be allowed unless in public use areas or with a variance in the High Density Commercial and High Density Multi-Use classifications.

Walls and jetties may not be added to prevent erosion or migration of sand. Vegetation may be planted to prevent the migration of sand.

May I remove woody debris from my shoreline property?

Fallen trees are trees and woody material that extend from the shoreline into the lake with the roots of the trees still attached or resting upon the shoreline. The fallen trees provide important habitat for fish and wildlife and shall be protected. The removal of existing submerged woody debris from the lake that has a diameter of 10 inches or greater at the base of the trunk is discouraged, unless such debris constitutes a navigational or public safety hazard. In the placement and construction of new docks, the removal of fallen trees should be minimized. Applicants for shoreline development will be required to mitigate for the removal of fallen trees from the lake.

I would like to construct a path to access my dock. How wide can it be and what materials should I use?

Structures located between the Project boundary (1850contour elevation) and the base elevation (1846 contour elevation) shall be limited to a structure that provides access to the dock and pilings or cables installed for purposes of enhancing stability of a floating structure. The maximum width of the access structure shall be not more than 6 feet between the Project boundary and the base elevation and must be perpendicular to the shoreline. Access paths should be sited to fit into the character of the land; the path should avoid existing vegetation and wind around existing large trees and shrubs. To minimize the impairment to the overall function of the vegetative buffer and to minimize erosion on the access path, vegetation or additional mulch should be used to cover the exposed soil. If paving material is needed, gravel, stepping stones, or other permeable material may be used especially where there is frequent use, slopes, or other factors that would prevent erosion from otherwise occurring. Paths designed for those with disabilities can be made from semi-permeable granular stone compacted to accessible surface. Three or four inches of mulch is the preferred method. It can readily be replaced and holds water. It also adds to the ability for the buffer to remove nitrogen. Impermeable materials, such as asphalt or concrete are prohibited for access paths.

Are applications available in an electronic format? The following applications may be downloaded from http://www.claytorhydro.com/relicensing/mgmtPlan.aspx.

  • Low Density Use Dock Application
  • Assignment of Permit Application
  • Application for Shoreline Stabilization
  • Vegetation Permit Application
  • Dredging Application

Applications for others uses may be obtained by calling (540) 489-2556 or emailing Lisa Hammock at lhhammock@aep.com.

Does Appalachian charge a fee for a permit?

Appalachian’s license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allows it to charge a reasonable fee to cover the costs of administering the permit program. However, at this time, Appalachian only charges the amount of the recording fee charged by Pulaski County.

What is the time line for dock approval?

For new docks serving single family uses, there is a minimum 2 week average turnaround time for applications received which are complete and accurate. Site inspections are conducted on all properties. If violations are detected, additional time may be required to resolve any non-compliance issues. Review time is minimized with the submission of complete applications and inclusion of surveys prepared by licensed surveyors.

Do I need a permit to add a personal watercraft (PWC) lift?

Yes. Any modification to an existing structure or the creation of a new structure requires permission from Appalachian to occupy and use Project lands and waters.

Is the Occupancy and Use Permit a building permit?

No, the Occupancy and Use Permit is not a building permit. The Occupancy and Use Permit issued to the property owner is permission from Appalachian Power Company, the licensee of the Claytor Project, to occupy and use Project lands and waters. It is a personal right issued to the adjacent property owner and, upon sale of property, a new permit must be issued to the buyer so that he/she also has permission to occupy and use Project lands and waters. Pulaski County should be contacted following the issuance of an Occupancy and Use Permit to obtain a building permit. Upon completion of the dock, the permittee must obtain a final inspection from Pulaski County and from Appalachian.

When selling lakefront property, how does a seller convey his Occupancy and Use Permit to the buyer?

All Occupancy and Use Permits issued after the implementation of the Shoreline Management Plan (December 27, 2011) and all Occupancy and Use Permits that required prior approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must be assigned to new property owners if the property is sold, in essence resulting in a new permit for the new property owners.

The seller contacts Appalachian (lhhammock@aep.com) to request a status report of the Project boundary and any permits issued for the property in question. Appalachian staff researches its records, conducts a site visit if necessary and conveys its findings in writing to the seller. Upon compliance with any permits issued and a satisfactory inspection Appalachian will state in writing that, as of that day and barring no modifications, Appalachian can execute the Assignment of Permit. If the structure is not in compliance with the permit issued or other violations are detected, additional information will be conveyed to the seller on the actions necessary to obtain compliance.

Is the buyer or the seller responsible for compliance issues?

The seller is responsible for compliance issues. However, if the property sold without the proper assignment requests submitted, then the buyer is responsible and may be required to remove the structure or bring the structure into compliance with the regulations set forth in the Shoreline Management Plan. In either instance Appalachian would ask that a new application for Occupancy and Use be submitted. Appalachian will only issue an Occupancy and Use Permit for structures that meet the requirements of the Shoreline Management Plan. Modifications to the structure and mitigation may be required.

What types of shoreline or dock maintenance can be done without a permit?
  • Vegetation less than 1-inch in caliper may be removed without a permit.
  • Existing lawns may be mowed.
  • Existing riprap may be refreshed as long as the overall height and length are not expanded nor the encroachment into the lake excessive.
What is the appeal process?

If a property owner wishes to appeal a decision made by a Shoreline Management staff member the appeal must be made in writing to Hydro Manager, P.O. Box 2021, Roanoke, VA 24022-2121.

In addition, any decision may be appealed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20426

How do Pulaski County zoning laws and Shoreline Management compare?

Pulaski County’s zoning is based on land use and goals identified in their respective comprehensive plans. It has specific language regarding development along the shoreline. Appalachian used this information in the development of shoreline classifications and regulations.

The proposed use will dictate which regulations will apply to the proposed development. When the proposed development is a “lesser” use than the Shoreline Management Plan shoreline classification, the regulations for the proposed development will prevail (e.g., a proposed residential dock in an area where the shoreline designation is high-density multi-use is required to meet the low-density use regulations). In addition, if county zoning and the shoreline classification do not match, then the more restrictive regulations will apply (e.g., a dock in the County’s residentially zoned district would have to meet the Low Density regulations, even if the shoreline classification is commercial, unless the County changed their zoning for the upland use).