Lake Lanier a murky situationPublished 8:58am Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tryon town officials appear to be in a conundrum. Should they or should they not spend taxpayer money to enforce regulations related to structures built over the waters of Lake Lanier.
The town has to do something to straighten out the tangled, murky mess that is the line of responsibility for the lake.
For Tryon, ownership of the lake bed only gives them so much authority in terms of zoning enforcement. It in fact means the town must sue other property owners in order to do anything about structures that violate regulations. This means going before a judge and thousands in court and attorney fees; money Tryon doesn’t necessarily have to spend.
Other issues arise from this dual ownership of Lake Lanier. Tryon owns the lake bed, but property surrounding the lake is under Greenville County jurisdiction. Lake Lanier is a private lake, therefore S.C. takes no responsibility over policing the area. This means no one checking for fishing licenses, no one ensuring that boaters wear life preservers, no one preventing littering and pollution of the lake.
The property owners surrounding the lake are also considered land owners in Greenville County, not Tryon. This means they do not pay local property taxes. The only money that comes to Tryon from lake residents would be in the form of water bills and a portion of Greenville County Fire taxes for fire protection. In this case, this means no one living on the lake is providing tax dollars that could fund extra enforcement, hence why Tryon has pitched the idea of disengaging from zoning around the lake. But Tryon did agree to enforce the lake when it accepted the water in the 1980s.
But what happens when everyone throws up their hands with regards to Lake Lanier? Could residents’ concerns grow even further? Increased recklessness and disregard for others’ property could be right around the corner. Someone has to maintain responsibility, especially if the lake is to remain a source of drinking water.
— Editorial staff, Tryon Daily Bulletin