A state court upheld Georgia’s Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee’s denial of a permit for a private marina proposed to be built in state marshlands on Wilmington Island, east of Savannah, Georgia.
The court ruled that the permit applicant, Bull River Bluff Properties, LLC, had not demonstrated that its asserted need for a marina could not be satisfied by existing facilities in the area, including a marina located next door.
The proposed marina would have included a walkway extending over three football fields long through the pristine marshlands along the Bull River in east Chatham County, an area with one of the coast’s highest concentration of marinas and docks.
These individual structures may potentially have a larger, cumulative negative impact caused by the shading of marsh grass and accumulation of floating mats of dead marsh grass known as “marsh wrack.”
Both shading and marsh wrack can harm marsh vegetation productivity by covering marsh that usually receives sunlight.
The Southern Environmental Law Center intervened in the proceedings on behalf of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, Ogeechee Riverkeeper, and Savannah Riverkeeper to help defend the Committee’s decision.
The legal decision is the second ruling on Bull River Bluff Properties, LLC’s application to construct a marina to serve its existing Bull River Bluff condominium development.
“This ruling is a win for the Georgia Coast and all who enjoy one of the country’s special natural places,” said Nate Hunt, staff attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The Court makes clear that to obtain a permit to construct a marina in public marshlands, an applicant must show that its need for a marina cannot be satisfied by existing public facilities. The use of existing facilities makes sense, because it ensures marina services are provided for the public and ensures the pristine marsh is not unnecessarily impacted.”
Press Release, February 26, 2014