Altamaha Riverkeeper News
Sea Island Spit Challenge Goes to Court May 9
Those opposed to the proposed rock groin encouraged to attend.
The Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK) and Surfrider Foundation will have an opportunity to argue their case in court against the rock groin proposed for the Sea Island spit on Monday, May 9. The hearing, beginning at 9 a.m. at the municipal courthouse at 1229 Newcastle Street in Brunswick, is set before Administrative Law Judge Kristin Miller. The entire week has been set aside for the hearing.
“We really hope people with an interest in this issue will come by to show their support,” said Riverkeeper Jen Hilburn. “Just having a presence there helps demonstrate that the Shore Protection Committee totally discounted the interests of citizens and property owners likely to be affected by the sea groin when they approved this project.”
In December, with a key local committee member out of the country, the Shore Protection Committee narrowly approved a proposal by Sea Island Acquisition to build a rock groin at the southern end of Sea Island, ostensibly to protect a proposed eight-lot multi-million dollar subdivision where, to date, no lots have been sold and no homes have been built. All the lots are on land deemed too unstable to even qualify for federal flood insurance. The Altamaha Riverkeeper, One Hundred Miles, Surfrider and a host of other organizations, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opposed the proposal and asked the committee to reconsider it with the full committee present, but the Department of Natural Resources declined.
Anticipating DNR’s cold shoulder, Altamaha Riverkeeper and Surfrider in January filed their petition for a hearing before an administrative law judge seeking to reverse the Shore Protection Committee. ARK and Surfrider, represented by GreenLaw, are arguing that the project would adversely affect the sandsharing system on the downdrift southern side of the groin (potentially impacting the adjacent East Beach area). The petitioners are also arguing that wildlife and wildlife habitat critical for endangered Sea Turtles and Piping Plovers, among other species, would also be adversely affected, contrary to the requirements of the Shore Protection Act. And finally, Petitioners are arguing that the Shore Protection Act’s preferred solution, beach nourishment without a groin, is a reasonable alternative.
One Hundred Miles has also filed a petition seeking an order to reverse the decision. Their case has been joined with the Riverkeeper’s petition. At the same time, the Altamaha Riverkeeper and other individuals and organizations opposed to the 100-yard rock sea wall have also raised alarms with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has pending before it an application to proceed from Sea Island Acquisition. The Corps said it received public comments from more than 170 separate responders, overwhelmingly in opposition to granting the permit. The Corps has asked Sea Island Acquisition to respond to many of the questions raised before it makes a decision.