Background Regarding the Coastal Marshlands Protection and Shore Protection Committees
The Marsh Protection Committee was created in 1970 with passage of state law that protects the public trust tidal wetlands (Coastal Marshlands Protection Act, O.C.G.A. Section 12-5-280 et. seq.).
Shore Protection Committee was created in 1979 with passage of the Shore Protection Act (O.C.G.A Section 12-5-230 et. seq.), which protects the sand sharing system --- the beaches, dunes and sand bars and shoals. Both of these habitats are deemed vital areas of the state.
The Committees issue permits for waterfront development such as marinas and community docks, residential and commercial shorefront development, beach crossovers, beach nourishment, and bank stabilization. These activities are part of DNR’s regulatory program, which is a component of Georgia’s Coastal Management Program.
The Board of Natural Resources appoints the Committees. Until recently the Committee composition was three members. In 2004, legislation was passed expanding the Committees by 2 members effective July 2004. Three of the five must be from the coast. The DNR Commissioner is an obligatory seat; the other member may be from the coast or anywhere in the State. Currently, all members including the DNR Commissioner are from the coast.
The Marsh and Shore Committees are chaired by GA DNR Commissioner Mark Williams. The other Committee members are Sonny Timmerman, an engineer and planning director from Liberty County (term 2011-2014); Henry Williams, a retired civilian engineer with the Kings Bay nuclear submarine base (term 1997 – 2013); Rick Gardner, owner of an independent aviation consulting company, and former Bryan County Commissioner (term 2010 – 2015); and Stan Humphries, a retired CPA from St. Simons Island (term: 2013-2016).
The same Committee members serve on both committees, which meet simultaneously.
Committee meetings average approximately every two months in frequency. Meetings are always held on the coast. The schedule is variable depending on the projects in the queue that are ready for committee action, the schedule availability of the Committee members, etc.
The Marsh Act provides that minor projects impacting less than 0.1 acre can be issued by the Commissioner following Committee review by mail, unless a Committee members requests that a project be reviewed at a full Committee meeting.
Coastal Resources Division serves as staff to the Committee. A Program Manager within the Ecological Services Section oversees permitting, assisted by a staff of permit coordinators. This unit also processes permits for private recreational docks. Staff provides technical assistance to applicants regarding their projects.
Briefing notebooks of project information are provided for the Committee in advance of the Committee meetings for their review. Staff issues findings and recommendations to the Committee, who will condition the permit.
On more controversial or larger projects, a public hearing may be held in advance of the Committee meeting. The Committee meetings are public meetings as well, and comment is often given by the public.
The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.
Contact your local permit coordinator at either our Brunswick headquarters office at (912) 264-7218 or at our Richmond Hill satellite office with questions or to schedule a pre-application site visit.