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Lake Lanier resort project hits the skids as residents call plan 'way too extreme'

Since 1956, over 675 people have lost their lives in Lake Lanier, which has a dark past
UPDATED JUL 13, 2021
Repeated mishaps and deaths have popularized the urban myth of 'Curse of Lake Lanier' (Facebook/Discover Lake Lanier)
Repeated mishaps and deaths have popularized the urban myth of 'Curse of Lake Lanier' (Facebook/Discover Lake Lanier)

Lake Lanier in Georgia has grown infamous in recent times for an increased number of mishaps and deaths. But, there is no denying that the water reservoir is still one of the most sought-after tourist spots in Georgia. Despite the 'curse of Lake Lanier', the location has close to 76 recreational areas including 10 marinas, 40 Corps-operated parks and campgrounds, and the Lake Lanier Islands. Now, there is the proposal for the development of a lakeside resort-style complex with 305 residential units. 

However, the plan has taken a backseat as several residents in the area opposed the construction, terming it "way too extreme". Planning Commission Chair Chris Braswell stated that the project was unprecedented in the history of Hall County, adding “There are a lot of unanswered questions." Meanwhile, in the first week of July 2021, a boat fire on the lake injured two adults, while on 4th of July, a dock sank at the 'cursed' lake endangering the lives of several passengers. Recently, another woman slipped and fell into the waters while she was twerking on a boat, sparking further conversation about the lake being haunted. 


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Problems with the new project

The 305-unit complex named 'Waterside at Lake Lanier' by FIDES Development would span across an area of 16 acres and comprise two sections. While 'The View at Waterside' would have a residential building housing 125 units, the 'Waterside Point' would have 180 units of buildings, townhomes and cottages. Amenities like swimming pools, docks, clubhouse, walking trails and dog parks will be instated in both the sections, which would be connected by a bridge. 

However, due to the high density of the constructional aspects and other implications, the project is yet to be approved by the Planning Commission. Though some residents have backed the project, most of the local neighbors have opposed the same. They argue that the massive complex would add on to the traffic, pollution and increase the overall population density in the area. 

According to John Hillman, who is a partner at FIDES Development, "Part of the exciting part about this project is we’re creating this almost standalone community that would depend upon itself." But local resident Teresa Cantrell believes, "We want to see quality residential development, but this is way too extreme."

The proposal has now been stalled temporarily and would be tabled again in August 2021 by the Planning Commission. They cited the lack of adequate details in the project plan as the reason for the postponement. 

The dark history of Lake Lanier

The reservoir situated in Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains has a shoreline running 690 miles. The lake is well known for its aqua-blue water, breathtaking scenery, and countless recreational activities. But despite its beauty, it has taken on a sinister reputation because of the disturbing number of unfortunate events that have occurred there. 

According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement, 57 boating fatalities took place at the reservoir while 145 people drowned to their deaths between 1998 and 2018. Since 1956, over 675 people have lost their lives in Lake Lanier - which has a dark history to its name. 

According to historian Monique Sampson, the US Army Corps sought the site in 1957, at a time when it had a "thriving" Black community there. On TikTok, she shared clips of forestland, farmland, old homes, barns, and a racetrack that allegedly surfaced during a drought. “[The Army Corps] drove residents out of the space, demanded that they leave, and decided to flood the entire area where the residents were. It was absolutely horrible," she said, adding: “They had all of these different amenities that they built for them, by them. The US Army Corp came in and decided they wanted to build Lake Lanier at the expense of the Black community that was thriving.” 

The initiative was part of a much broader effort to enhance the nation's rivers across the United States following WWII. Even today, concrete buildings, vehicles, bridge pieces, and other debris, even gravesites may be found in some of Lake Lanier's deepest portions, but because the lake is fully filled, the Corps of Engineers believes that these structures are not a danger to lake users.