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Archive for the 'Lake Martin Area Info' Category

The Major Towns Around Lake Martin

What are the major towns or cities around Lake Martin, Alabama? I get this question from time to time when I am talking to buyers on the phone about Lake Martin real estate.

Major towns around Lake Martin

I have written here before that I usually get my best and most effective blog post ideas from my buyers. When one of my buyers asked me this question today, I realized I have never written about it here.

I am biased because I grew up in Alexander City, and sell on the lake now, but I think it would be a wonderful community for anyone.  The three major towns closest to Lake Martin are:

1. Alexander City (aka Alex City) (1 hour 10 min from Birmingham, 45 min from Auburn, 1 hour from Montgomery)

2. Dadeville  (1 hour 30 min from Birmingham, 30 min from Auburn, 1 hour from Montgomery)

3. Eclectic  (1 hour 30 min from Birmingham, 45 min from Auburn, 25 minutes from Montgomery)

If you are a researcher and would like to know more beyond the Wikipedia articles I linked above, here are some great resources for the area:

Lake Magazine and Lake Martin Living are lifestyle magazines, Alex City Outlook is a paper, the Dadeville Record is a paper, here’s a link to their viewer:  http://boone.newspaperdirect.com/epaper/viewer.aspx

or their sites:

http://www.alexcityoutlook.com/

http://lake.lakemartinmagazine.com/

http://living.lakemartinmagazine.com/

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Lake Martin Gets Bigger and Smaller

Yes.  Lake Martin is now bigger AND smaller.

When I talk to people about Lake Martin waterfront real estate, they are usually amazed by the size of our lake770 MILES of shoreline is the number I’ve told people for as long as I can remember.  That’s a huge lake, especially when you consider only 30% of the shoreline is developed.

But a new measurement is showing we have even more shoreline than that!  880 miles to be exact.  According to an article in the Alexander City Outlook, Alabama Power’s new measurements show the lake has MORE shoreline but LESS water (measured in acres) than previous estimates revealed. I was once a pre-engineering major, and among the many reasons I washed out was the fact that I can’t grasp how you can have more shoreline but less acreage. Nevertheless, this is interesting news!

Everyone adjust your Lake Martin trivia accordingly.

DCIM101GOPRO

The Lighthouse From Up High by: John Coley

Here’s the Outlook article:  New figures show Lake Martin has more shoreline 

Also – according to this article, we may not know whether FERC has approved the new winter water level request until next summer.  So don’t expect an answer anytime soon.  These. things.  just. take. a. long. time.  To read more about the relicensing of Martin Dam, check out the links below:

Update on Lake Martin’s FERC Relicensing

FERC Lake Martin Meeting Recap

If you’re considering a Lake Martin real estate purchase at Lake Martin, give me a call.  I’d love to share my knowledge, my experience, my trials, and my errors, with a good bit of Lake Martin trivia thrown in on the side. No extra charge!  John Coley  334221 5862, or click here to contact me.

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Lake Martin Market Reports Yield Great Feedback

The Lake Martin waterfront real estate market is a unique animal. I try hard to provide meaningful market reports, built on math and not assumptions. I recently sent out my 2013 Year End Review via email. In it, I asked for suggestions on how to improve my report.

Letter from readersI received two very interesting emails, and thought I would publish them here. I would like to once again thank these readers for their input, and continue to ask for suggestions, and challenges, to my published numbers and analysis. With such a small number of homes sold each year, it’s critical to have good information. You won’t ever hurt my feelings if you think I am wrong or looking at something the wrong way. On the contrary, I would love to hear from you.

Here is the first email:

On Feb, 2014,  “Paul” wrote:

Just read though your email – great to see sales and construction activity continue to climb. You mentioned that you do not necessarily see price appreciation…..yet. Presumably you have the aggregate of sales dollars per annum. Does that not evidence any increase in avg sale/property?
Just curious because I was wondering how much the rate environment (which is still very favorable) could have an impact on discretionary/second home real estate purchases.

And my response:

Begin forwarded message:

From: John Coley
Subject: Re: sales data
Date: March, 2014
To: “Paul”

Hey “Paul,” thanks for your email. I don’t really look at aggregate sales dollar figures because I am not sure it is representative. For instance, the aggregate sales data in 2013 is going to be about double of 2008. But – 263 homes were sold in 2013 compared to 137 homes in 2008. If you looked at aggregate sales data you would be tempted to conclude that values have doubled since 2008, which certainly does not meet the smell test. I don’t know of any market anywhere that has doubled since 2008. In fact, I think values dropped slightly in 09 and have been steady since then. My bell curve chart and real world examples (homes bought in 08 that are for sale now) confirm that. But it is certainly interesting to consider.

As to interest rates – I don’t think rates mean a hill of beans to the average buyer. I think their interest rate sensitivity is zero. I have never run the numbers, but now that I know how to do so (I plan to do it like I did for WF footage and lot size) – I might try it. Stay tuned to my blog in the next few weeks, I am publishing the math behind my studies of price per WF foot.

Great to hear from you!

And the second email:

Dear John:
You asked for input on your charts, so being a CPA I couldn’t resist giving some! The chart you are using to determine whether prices are increasing I don’t think is accurate for that purpose. For example, let’s say in 2014 a lot of people in the $700,000 price range bought a lot of houses, let’s say 25% of all 2014 sales – the chart would of course spike at the $700,000 level indicating only that more people are buying houses at that level than they did in previous years. If the $700,000 buyers were buying houses that were previously sold for significantly less (i.e. a big price increase had occurred), the chart would not indicate that.

I don’t know if you have the data, but I believe a very meaningful chart re: price fluctuations would be to calculate the dollar sales per square foot, by subdivision, by year. That would certainly capture any price fluctuations. Since the subdivisions are all in different categories (i.e. comparing the Ridge to Trillium, or Blount’s Point area to Willow Point) cannot be meaningfully done.
I would love to see a chart that lists sales dollars per square foot, by subdivision, by year. Can you get your hands on that kind of data?

Many thanks for your very valuable research.

– “C.E.”

My response:

From: John Coley

Subject: Re: Lake Martin – February 2014
Date: March, 2014
To: “C.E.”

Hey “C.E.”, thanks for your email. I appreciate a fellow numbers guy giving me input. I am always on the lookout to build a better mousetrap and to similarly test assumptions of my own.

Re: per square foot – I think this stat is extremely misleading at the lake. The reason is that so much of a home’s value is tied up in the lot. PSF analysis works well in things like condos where everything is the same, but lake property is way too diverse and has too high a percentage of overall value tied up in the lot. See a post I did on my blog, way back in 2007:

5 Mistakes When Buying Real Estate on Lake Martin

There is zero correlation between sales price and square footage of home.

In that post I also mention the price per waterfront foot of a lot and its deceptive nature. Coincidentally, I just ran the numbers on that using 2013 sales. I will be posting the results on my blog. I did a scatter plot, and a correlation coefficient calculation. Where +1 is a perfectly direct relationship, 0 is no relationship, and -1 is a perfect indirect relationship, I found that waterfront footage only has about a 0.47 correlation, or classified as a secondary correlation by statisticians. Interestingly, the size of the lot (overall acreage) has a zero correlation. This math confirmed for me that when I am valuing lots, and therefore valuing homes, the most accurate method is to start with a comparable sales method, looking at similar location, view, privacy, and water quality. I secondarily adjust for WF footage, and do not adjust at all for acreage.
I will take a look at your suggestion of analysis by neighborhood. I am doing that already for a neighborhood report, but looking at PSF data on homes in a neighborhood will vary even more greatly because of our small sample pool. That’s why I only do price analysis once a year – in Willow Point there were only 8 homes sold in the last 12 months, from 600k to 2.2 million. When your sample pool is that small, it won’t normalize easily, and one home sale can thrown the whole thing in a wreck and make year to year comparisons inaccurate at worst. But all this does make for interesting discussion!!!

Regarding your example of the 700,000 category – if you look at the most recent example, in 2011 there was a spike in the over 1 million range. You can see the hump up there. Spikes like this are the prime reason I broke it all down to price strata, and also to look a year’s worth of sales. I am trying to normalize out the outliers. But again, great food for thought! Thanks!

Thanks for your email!!

It is so humbling that people read my market reports, much less take the time to comment on them and get me to really think about the conclusions I draw.  It helps more than you know.  A huge thanks for your feedback, and please keep it coming!

C.E., in a later email, suggested that I look at the percentage of and direction of change in per square foot pricing on Lake Martin waterfront home sales. His point was that while the raw number might not be useful, the direction thereof might be, kind of like the DJI in the stock market. I think this is a cool idea and worth some further study!

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Welcome to Lake Martin!

Welcome to Lake Martin and welcome to LakeMartinVoice.com!  If you’re researching a waterfront real estate purchase, I hope this website will become your favorite tool, and, let me be honest – I hope one day you’ll give me a call and hire me as your realtor.  I realize that the last thing buyers and sellers want to do is call a cheesy realtor, so this website is my attempt to gain your trust by putting the best real estate info into your hands and letting you take the lead.

So what’s the deal with my company’s name, Lake Martin Voice Realty?  Am I am radio station? No.  Am I a boutique ( a trendy word for small) real estate company that deals exclusively with Lake Martin real estate? Yes!

LakeMartinVoice.com exists to put all of the most accurate and most current Lake Martin real estate information in one location.

At Lake Martin Voice, you can

1)  Search the Lake Martin MLS – without a doubt, the most accurate and timely source of listing information. All realtors, all brokerages.   Sites like Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia are chronically inaccurate and out of date, so go straight to the local source, our MLS.

2)  Read Market Reports – I break down the statistics – finally, my accounting degree put to good use.  It’s hard to argue with the numbers.

3)  Learn about Neighborhoods and geographic areas on the lake – Maps, video tours, histories each area, PLUS a live feed from the MLS with homes currently for sale in each neighborhood.  A handy way to get super hyper local.

4)  Connect to my YouTube Channel – Watch hundreds of videos including home tours, community event videos, and client testimonials.

5)  Request Best Buy and Foreclosure Lists – Choose your price range and I’ll send you a hand picked list of homes with good value (IMO).  Request a list of foreclosed properties as well.

6)  Explore local news, events and issues – Read hundreds of current and past blog posts covering life at Lake Martin.

If you have more questions about Lake Martin real estate, and you can’t find the answers here, please let me know – I’d love to do the research and even post the answers right here.  You can  call me at 334  221 5862, email me at john (at) lakemartinvoice (dot) com, or click here to contact me.

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A Paddle Boarder’s Paradise on Manoy Creek

I have a new waterfront Lake Martin home for sale on the east side of the lake, 108 Leisure Lane, and every time I think about it, I want to head there with my paddle board and spend a few hours exploring.

This Manoy Creek home has 3 beds and 2 baths on a great, flat lot.  Best of all, its neighbor to the east is a 68 acre parcel of Alabama Power Project Land.  That means the area will not be developed, and that makes for privacy, super paddle boarding, fishing and skiing.  I imagine loading my fishing gear on my board, paddling along the woodsy shoreline, maybe making my way across the slough to visit a neighbor. . .

By the way, I’ve had several clients buy in this area of Lake Martin specifically for the great skiing and wake boarding spots.

If you’re interested in this home, or any property in the Lake Martin MLS, give me a call at 334 221 5862, email me at john (at) lakemartinvoice (dot) com, or click here to contact me.  I sell real estate exclusively on Lake Martin full time, and I’d love to help you with your search!

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Subscribe to Lake Martin Voice’s YouTube Channel!

It’s a YouTube channel devoted to Lake Martin and Lake Martin waterfront real estate.  And I promise it’s not about me!

I know you are bombarded by cheesy ads asking you to “Like” this on Facebook or “Follow Me” on Twitter.  I see them too, and I always think, “Why?  Why would I do that?” A lot of times there isn’t a good reason or incentive.  You can already view my Lake Martin YouTube Channel without subscribing, but if you do subscribe, you’ll be notified as soon as I upload new videos.  That means you won’t miss a thing going on at the lake.

Also, if you have the YouTube app, it will make it easy for you to keep up that way.  That’s how I watch most videos on YouTube.  I go to the app and scroll down my subscriptions, and anything with a red number on it means it has videos that I have not seen.  It’s pretty convenient.

Subscribe to Lake Martin Voice's YouTube ChannelMy goal is to be your #1 resource for all things Lake Martin real estate.  I want to have the savviest clients and readers around, so my YouTube channel is another way to get great information on homes, neighborhoods, and community events at Lake Martin.  As of today, I have uploaded 344 videos to the Lake Martin Voice channel, and 281 of them are viewable by the public.  (See private tour video info at the end of this post to learn why all videos are not public.) These videos are organized into Playlists:  How to Search the MLS, Client Testimonials, Community Info Videos, Lake Martin Neighborhood Tours, and Waterfront Home Tours.

YouTube lets you make a plug for your channel that pops up at the top of the page, and here’s mine below. Am I convincing?  Are you signing up?

 

YouTube is also where I upload Private Tours for clients who want more info on a particular home for sale, but it’s another company’s listing.  I go to the property, film a walk through tour of the home and lot, and then give the client a private YouTube link to view the video.  It’s a service a lot of my customers use to help narrow down properties to see and therefore make their trips to the lake more efficient and productive.

If you’re interested in Lake Martin real estate, I’d love to be your Realtor.  Call me at 334 221  5862, email me at john at lakemartinvoice dot com, or click here to contact me, and let’s talk Lake Martin.

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Horseshoe Bend Art on Display

The Lake Martin community extends beyond the shoreline of Lake Martin, and I love all the history that is a part of our location in central Alabama.  My kids and my wife think I am goofy about this, but I am among the many hundreds if not thousands of people that are excited about the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Alabama artist,Tommy Moorehead thinks it’s worthy subject matter as well:

Tommy Moorehead Art at Emporium Wine in Alex City, AL

Art by Alabama artist, Tommy Moorehead.

Now through April 5th, Henry Foy’s Gallery 128 at Emporium Wine,  is displaying Mr. Moorehead’s art to commemorate The Bicentennial of The Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Check it out on Facebook. Even my wife, an artist herself, was interested.

Suddenly I am not so nerdy, eh?

The official anniversary proceedings are happening on March 27, 28, and 29th, 2014 at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park (on Highway 49, a couple of miles north of Highway 280 in Dadeville, AL).  For more information, see the Park’s website here.  If you are unfamiliar with the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, it’s only (arguably) the most important early American vs. Native American battle east of the Mississippi. It was the launching pad of many famous Americans like Andrew Jackson, Davy Crockett, Menewa, and Sam Houston, and it’s right in our backyard at Lake Martin.

I sent a letter to my kids’ school last month to make sure they knew about this event, and to offer my services as possible guide.  The principal sent my letter out school wide, and then informed me that (lucky us!) it is happening during our Spring Break week.  So now, as part of our Spring Break 2014 celebration, we are bringing another fortunate family (or two) to hear the canon, see the encampments, and soak up the history. My kids are not yet convinced that this will be as fun as the beach, but I’m betting I can change their minds a little, or at least have a seed planted of love for our local history.  See you there!

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Extreme Sea Wall Repair Part 3: Completion

It’s time for the final reveal.  Much like an Extreme Makeover Home episode, Henderson and Coker Contractors have resurrected a Lake Martin seawall that was a complete fail.  This was no minor seawall fail.  This was a seawall that had fallen over into the lake and taken a lot of earth with it – and dirt is dollars in waterfront real estate.  They allowed me to tag along and film the stages of construction, and now that the water is down for the winter months, I can show you the new seawall from the ground on up.

This time of year is great for inspecting and repairing Lake Martin sea walls.  As you can see from the video below, there’s a lot more to a seawall than the few feet that are exposed during the summer months.  This is a project for the pros.  The dirt beneath your lake home is the most valuable part of your lake investment, so make sure you protect it with a strong, well built sea wall.

Did you know that sea wall inspections are not typically part of the home buying inspection process?  Buyers should contact a sea wall professional and have a separate inspection completed if they are concerned about the condition of a lake home’s seawall.

I can’t inspect your seawall, but I can help you with Lake Martin real estate. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a Lake Martin home, give me a call and let’s talk about all the factors to consider when buying or selling.  I’d love to be your realtor. (334) 221-5862

For Parts 1 and 2 of this series, click on the links below:

Extreme Seawall Failure on Lake Martin: Part 1

Extreme Seawall Failure on Lake Martin Part 2: Rebuilding

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Update on Lake Martin’s FERC Relicensing

As you probably know, Alabama Power is in the middle of the process to relicense Martin Dam.  If you’re unfamiliar with this event, click here for more information.  For those of you who have been following this process, you might be wondering what’s going on?

When we last left this subject, FERC held a meeting to say they had not approved a new water level rule curve (to determine what months they raise and lower the Lake Martin’s water level, and by how many feet they lower the winter water level).  Alabama Power has appealed this decision to FERC and has asked FERC to reconsider the matter.  If you’d like to read a copy of Alabama Power’s appeal, click here.

Alabama Power Martin Dam

Basically, regarding water levels at Lake Martin, Alabama Power has appealed to FERC with two considerations:

1) Potential for downstream damage is small.

2) Potential for positive economic impact is large.

The way I understand it, FERC is not operating on any set timetable. I could be wrong on this, but I think we could hear back from them in two weeks or six months.  We will hear about it when we hear about it.

My personal hope is that they grant Alabama Power’s request for a new rule curve.  The new rule curve would only drop the winter level seven feet instead of ten feet, and allow for an optional full pool period extending into the fall.  I think Alabama Power has done a great job in proving that there is no additional risk of flooding with a seven foot winter drop.  They’ve also done a great job proving that our entire area’s economic potential would be greatly enhanced by having more water in Lake Martin.  I remain optimistic that FERC will hear the appeal and make the right decision for the Lake Martin area.

For further reading, LakeMartin.org has assembled links to original documents relating to the FERC relicensing in a helpful way. Click here to see these.

As soon as I hear anything, I’ll let you know.

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FERC Lake Martin Meeting Recap

The Lake Martin community has a once in every 40 year chance to influence our lake’s water levels. Alabama Power is in the final days of getting their “rule curve” and license from FERC. A couple of weeks ago FERC had a public meeting in which to hear discussion about their recent proposed response to AL power. In short, Alabama Power asked to bring the lake down only seven feet in the winter instead of the current ten. They also asked for the discretion, weather permitting, to have an optional full pool period into October, instead of starting to draw it down after Labor Day.

If all of this is news to you and you have no idea what I am talking about, read this post first and its related links. If you are up on the news, and have been waiting on my summary, sorry I am so late in posting it. The meeting was very eventful.

Let me try and boil down a lot of information into a few key points:

1)  Great turnout!

The Lake Martin community made its presence known.  I saw people from all over.  Well done, stakeholders!! Many groups and businesses put out the call for attendance and the response was awesome. I am not taking credit in any way, this response was way bigger than anything I could orchestrate, but I would like to personally thank the people that came because of my email. I know some folks came from as far away as Atlanta! According to the folks at CACC, the capacity in the main room was 600. They had so many people show up that they created an overflow room. I was in the main room so I have no idea how many were in the overflow, but I think that 700 total people is a pretty good estimate. The meeting started at 6:30 and by 5:30 people were already getting there. Check out the packed house below:

2)  Lots of people had to chance to speak.

From regular folks to company executives, Lake Martin stakeholders were able to address FERC’s representatives.  First, they started with elected representatives, so this consisted mainly of Alabama State Representatives and Senators. They did a pretty good job, and of course, the they were all in favor of Alabama Power’s suggestion of a 7 foot draw down in the winter and the optional fall full pool in autumn. They all touched on the huge economic potential of such a change.  I thought that Mark Tuggle did the best job of combining the facts with persuasion. After the elected representatives spoke, then a person from Alabama Power spoke. I thought this would have been Jim Crew, who is in charge of re licensing.  Instead it was another fellow whose name escapes me, sorry. He did a nice job. Then they threw it open to anyone else in the public, and we had four minutes each. In order to speak, you had to fill out a form with your name and topic. I was surprised when they called my name to speak first in this section. I guess I was the first one to fill out a form since I got there an hour early. I had some remarks prepared. I had just written “An Open Letter To FERC” – my article submission for Lake Magazine‘s August Issue. I decided to read it as my speech. But while I was waiting around, I felt like it was too long for that forum, so I edited it back pretty viciously. You can see my speech as made at the end of this post.

Some folks from LMRA and the Lake Martin HOBOs also spoke in favor. Then Steve Forehand, Secretary and General Counsel with Russell Lands, got up and spoke. Steve did an awesome job. Of course, as Lake Martin’s largest private landowner, Russell Lands stands to gain when property values increase. That’s obvious and it surprised no one that they are in favor of Alabama Power’s proposed EIS. But what was interesting to me was how Steve reminded everyone of the intense study that has happened for the last six years, and how all of the diverse stakeholders (upstream, downstream, and all around) were taken into account. He laid out, in sober detail, the solid math that supports the environmental and economic reasons for Alabama Power’s requests.

One of the best speakers of the evening was the manager of Winn Dixie in Alexander City.  He talked about the huge disparity between the amount of merchandise sold in the summer and the winter.  He said that the gross sales difference in his store between summer and winter is $70,000 per week. Wow. He said at $2.30 per item, that’s 30,000 items that are not getting stocked by his employees or outside vendors coming to the community. If stock is not moving, he can’t retain his stock guys year round.  These are real people who struggle financially in the off season and could really benefit by extending the lake season.  I know he was just one example of the hundreds of businesses in Elmore, Tallapoosa and Coosa counties and beyond.

Another home run hitter was Kenneth Boone. He owns the Alexander City Outlook and the Dadeville Record, as well as Lake Magazine and Lake Martin Living Magazine, et al. He talked about the potential positive impact that a higher winter pool and a longer full pool season would have for him. He pointed out that, while he does not live on the lake, his businesses literally circle it.  Kenneth also put out hard numbers if the differences in summer and winter time revenue.

Here are a few pictures of various Lake Martin stakeholders I took during their speeches to FERC:

3)  Alabama Power is still working with FERC

Apparently there is more info that needs to be shared, and Alabama Power is working to provide this info.  At the very end of the nearly three hours of listening, the FERC folks finally spoke up. Someone from the crowd asked, cannily, “what do you need to give us 7 feet and optional full pool to October?” FERC responded by saying that everything they base their decisions on must be in Alabama Power’s application. And, they added, based on what’s in there now, we don’t see the evidence that a 7 foot winter drop will be OK. We would need more evidence. This was a ray of sunshine to me, because when I talked to each of the FERC folks separately before the meeting, they sort of acted like it would be a rarity for them to change their minds. That comment opened the door a bit for me mentally. After FERC said that, Jim Crew from Alabama Power finally stood up to talk. I suppose Mr. Crew remained silent during the meeting to give everyone else a chance to talk, even though he is clearly the expert. I also suppose there is a bit of strategy involved in letting other people make your points for you. At any rate, when he did stand up to talk, he said, in effect, “hey, we thought we addressed these points, but I am hearing we didn’t do enough. We will do whatever we can, supply whatever we can, to get the 7 foot winter drop and the optional fall full pool.” This was met with resounding applause.

4)  There is no resolution or ruling yet, so we’ll all have to stay tuned.

I wish I could say we know the fate of this re-licensing process, but we don’t.  There were a lot of great points made in favor of raising the winter water level and extending the full pool season by three months. But it was clear to me that this public meeting was just another thing FERC had to check off in the relicensing process. Ostensibly, they were there to listing in case any “new data” was presented. I judged from their tone and response at the end of the meeting that they felt none was. However, since they did talk about the possibility of Alabama Power giving enough new information that would help. FERC gave no time frame. We will just have to wait and see.

5)  597 to 3

Yes, there were some speakers that were against a seven foot winter pool. Three, exactly. Since I don’t know ho many were in the overflow room, I score the night 597 pro and 3 against. I won’t give them equal ink since they were so entirely outnumbered. One said he was a regular dude, a teacher, that owned land downstream of Lake Martin. He said he wanted to “put a face” with people that “y’all are trying to flood out.” I was surprised that an academic would make such a statement in light of the facts presented in Alabama Power’s application. The math on such a remote possibility should ease his fears.

Also, Trey Taylor spoke. He is an Elmore County Commissioner for District 2. He also identified himself as a cotton farmer whose crops might be affected by higher winter pools. Put aside the fact that no Alabama cotton farmer worth one bole would have cotton in the ground in October. Has he read the studies that show the slightly higher pools on Lake Martin would have no affect on him? I don’t think he has. I was flabbergasted that an Elmore County politician would be against this. Surely he realizes the huge economic impact to his county. Surely he realizes that a huge portion of Elmore County’s property tax comes from Lake Martin? Maybe not. If you are an Elmore County resident whose livelihood even remotely is helped by Lake Martin, click on his link above and contact him. My office is in Elmore County and I plan to let him know I do not support his reelection.  A person stood up after him and said that Mr. Taylor owns a lot of acreage and that was his motivation. I don’t know that to be a fact, but I do know that Mr. Taylor’s family is quite vested in the cotton business. One drive down 229 south of Tallassee confirms that.  Mr. Taylor gets the “cutting the nose off despite the face” award of the night in my book.

The last opponent that spoke was Robert Morris, a self described “lawyer from Slapout.” Mr. Morris was easily the longest and least tolerated speaker of the evening. He launched into a review of his unsuccessful attempt to sue Alabama Power in 2005 on behalf of landowners that felt the power company’s water control hurt the landowners’ interests. The suit was dismissed by summary judgement, which I think means the judge rules that you don’t have enough evidence to go to trial. Anyhoo, Mr. Morris went on at length. So much length, in fact, that FERC asked him to wrap it up (the only time all night they were forced to do so). He went on for another five minutes.  He started to receive some scattered booing.  I think his entire speech was a grand ruse to troll for new clients. He was applauded, though, when he said “In closing…….” – the place erupted in cheers, he cut his sentence off, and mercifully left the podium. If he expected the crowd to be a rich till of Alabama Power haters, he miscalculated astronomically.

6)  What Can You Do? Act before August 13, 2013!

Lots of people who could not make the meeting are wondering what they can do to show their support of Alabama Power’s attempt to drop the lake only 7 feet in the winter, and have an optional full pool to October. You can go to FERC’s website and use their eComment or eFiling tool to let them know. You will be asked what project you are commenting on, and it’s the Martin Dam Hydroelectric Project, its number is P-349-173. It must be typed exactly like: P-349-173

YOU MUST DO THIS BY AUGUST 13 or IT WON’T MATTER.

If you are wondering what to write, see the LMRA site – they make the point that we would be well advised to be a unified vote. Just say that you support Alabama Power’s proposed 7 foot winter pool and the optional fall full pool. The cutoff from FERC is August 13, 2013.

And if you’re interested, here’s what I had to say:

Like I said, I edited my August article for Lake Magazine. In the magazine, it will be fuller and (hopefully) less choppy. I didn’t want to risk boring the FERC folks and other listeners with too many examples and too many sidebars, so I cut it way down. Here’s my speech exactly as I read it:

**************************

An Open Letter to FERC:

I have two points to cover in respectful disagreement with your Draft EIS for the Martin Dam Relicensing Project.

First, I think that you are severely limiting the scope of what you define as stakeholders. For instance, the statement that the optional full pool period in the fall would only benefit property owners is tantamount to saying that three extra home games played by the Washington Redskins would only benefit the season ticket holders.

Sure, the season ticket holders would love an extra Redskins game. But they would only represent the tip of the iceberg. Think about the business that sells hotdogs; the folks that work the parking lots; the people selling souvenirs. Beyond that, hotels, restaurants, taxis and convenience stores surrounding FedEx Field would love the extra games. More importantly, what if those three extra games provided enough income that the businesses could hire three extra people each? Or make their part time employees full time? Or allow a worker to finally save enough money to retire with dignity, go to school or start another business?

Extending the fall full pool season is like giving us three extra home games. The community can be transformed into a year round economy. Please don’t think the benefits are limited to property owners only. Can someone be a Wolverine outside of Michigan? Or pull for the Fighting Illini from D.C.? Or cheer The Dawgs from the Southwest? Of course.

Another thing that I think you need to reconsider is limiting the winter pool to 10 feet. Your Draft EIS claims that 10 feet is needed to allow for flood control.   I would like to question why you think, after about 40 years of dropping the lake 10 feet, that it still needs such a huge margin of error to help mitigate the danger of downstream flooding? In short, it doesn’t, because technology has increased quite a bit since 1973 when the current license was written.

I am old enough to remember watching the weatherman on TV as he gave the daily prediction on a chalkboard. Yes, the weatherman stood at a chalkboard and drew clouds or pictures of the sun in various emotional states, along with pictures of wind, rain and occasionally snow. If he was good enough, he drew the cloud actually puffing and blowing the wind. Needless to say, we were not able to zoom in on his chalk scribblings at a neighborhood level to see where it would rain. Again, that was 40 years ago. Computers that we now consider feeble took up entire rooms. Today, even the iPhone in my pocket can provide weather prediction at the street level.

Common sense tells us that the long lead times for weather prediction 40 years ago are no longer needed. 

Please don’t let an entire lake and its people be held hostage by 1973 technology. Dump the chalkboard. Check your favorite weather app and let us lower the lake only 7 feet in the winter.

Respectfully,
John Coley

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Further links:

Alex City Outlook Coverage:

Hundreds Pack Public Meeting

Ala Power: The Voices Were Heard

Coverage from WSFA Channel 12 in Montgomery:  Hundreds pack hearing on future of Lake Martin water levels

also:

WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather

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