Monday, May 3, 2004

Builder of dock has pal in D.C.

Others along lake can't get permits

The Associated Press

BRONSTON, Ky. - Some property owners at Lake Cumberland are upset that an upscale resort was given permission to build the first new dock on the lake in nearly a decade thanks to the intervention of a congressman.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., put language in the federal budget exempting the resort from a ban on such new mooring facilities. A partner in the resort is a Rogers contributor. Rogers said that had nothing to do with helping get the new dock.

In a statement to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Rogers said he helped the resort - The Villas at Woodson Bend - because the project would boost tourism and bring development and jobs to the area. The resort is preparing to build the new dock.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake, has turned down all requests for new private or community docks for years, including others from developers whose projects could arguably boost development.

Robert Haynes, who unsuccessfully sought a community dock for a lakefront subdivision where he lives near The Villas, said it isn't fair for the resort to get a dock when others have been denied.

"Something in the system's not right," said Haynes, a retired machine-tool builder.

The Corps of Engineers was not involved in getting the exemption for The Villas. Language in the federal budget directed the agency to modify its rules specifically for the development.

The Corps banned new private docks - those serving individual homes or a group of homes, called a community dock - on the lake beginning in January 1995.

The reason was that by the time the Corps began a 1994 update of its shoreline management plan, there were more than 300 individual and community docks on the lake.

That proliferation of docks raised concern that further private development would detract from the "environmental, aesthetic and recreational values" of the lake, leading to the ban on new private moorages, according to the 1994 update.

"We wanted to keep it where it was an attractive lake," said Brant Norris, a conservation ranger for the lake.

Norris said the stretch of the lake fronting The Villas is in an area that was classified as protected - meaning new private docks were not allowed - since at least 1987.

Corps officials said the ban on new private docks has been generally well accepted.

The president of The Villas, Robert Kenison, pushed for a dock for the resort while the Corps was taking public comments for the 2002 update.

That effort failed. But Kenison had better luck in the federal appropriations act approved in early 2003.

The massive budget included one sentence directing the secretary of the Army, through the Corps, to modify the management plan for the lake "to allow for construction of a privately owned moorage facility at Woodson Bend Peninsula" on the South Fork of the Cumberland River.

The exemption was for The Villas at Woodson Bend.

Kenison gave Rogers campaign contributions of $500 in 1997, $1,000 in October 2002 and $1,000 in August 2003, the Lexington newspaper reported.

Rogers has chaired various House Appropriations subcommittees since 1995.

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