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TVA gives floating boat houses 30 year sunset

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In 30 years, floating boat houses must be removed from TVA reservoirs. That's the decision of a vote by the TVA board of directors Thursday.

The original proposal was for 20 years, but the TVA president and CEO Bill Johnson brought the new recommendation to the board. Despite a wave of protest from people speaking at the meeting, the board made final a 30-year sunset.

Dozens of people came from around Tennessee to the TVA board of directors meeting at a Paris Landing State Park in Middle Tennessee, fighting for their right to keep their boat houses on the water.

"We contribute to the local economy with purchases from the marinas, gas stations in town, as well as grocery stores, restaurants, insurance companies and hardware stores," said one speaker.

They were arguing for the good the tourism does for the communities, while several pointed to studies showing the boat houses aren't harmful to the environment. One marina owner said it could put her out of business.

"So not only has my cash flow taken a huge hit, my marina is now devalued...so my marina has now gone down $700,000," she said.

In response to a fair use argument, one speaker said if marinas close it could in fact limit public use of the reservoirs.

But Johnson urged the Authority to remember its responsibility to manage environmental safety and crowded shorelines.

"Like state and national parks, which prohibit private residential use of public resources, the land and water TVA manages are own by the public," Johnson said. "What is being asked for is a permanent use of public property, and the words that were used this morning were, 'we want it in perpetuity, and we want it in eternity.' So the idea that these floating homes have a perpetual right to stay on assets owned by the public does not seem to me to be a particularly good stewardship resolution."

The TVA estimates there are 1,800 floating homes on 16 TVA reservoirs. The existing boat houses must comply with specific regulations for continued use, and no new permits will be issued.

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