The Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee (CMPC) 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.).
The Shore Protection Committee (SPC) 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 activities that occur within the jurisdiction of these state laws including waterfront development such as marinas and community docks, residential and commercial shorefront development, beach crossovers, beach nourishment, and bank stabilization. The Coastal Resources Division, Marsh and Shore Management Program serves as staff to these committees as part of the division’s administration of these laws through the Georgia Coastal Management Program.
Per its bylaws, the Board of Natural Resources appoints the membership of these committees. For many years, the committee composition was three members. In 2004, legislation was passed expanding the committees by two members. Three of the five members must reside in one of the six ocean-facing counties of the Georgia coast. The Commissioner of Natural Resources is an obligatory seat; the other member may be from the coast or anywhere in the state. Currently, all members except the Commissioner of Natural Resources reside in coastal Georgia. Members serve 4-year terms and are eligible for reappointment to two successive terms.
Currently, the CMPC and SPC Meetings are chaired by Commissioner of Natural Resources, Mark Williams. The other committee members are Rick Gardner, owner of an independent aviation consulting company, and Bryan County Commissioner (term 2010-2019); Zachary "Zach" Harris, a lawyer practicing in general civil litigation, including business and commercial law from St. Simons Island (2019-2022); Bill Hodges, an engineer from Sapelo Island (term: 2017-2020) and Chad Barrow, resident of Savannah and owner and CEO of Coastal Logistics Group, Inc. (term: 2018-2021).
Committee meetings are held at a location in one of the six ocean-facing counties and typically occur every two months. 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 Coastal Marshlands Protection Act (CMPA) allows for minor projects impacting less than 0.1 acre to be authorized by the Commissioner of Natural Resources on behalf of the CMPC following CMPC review by mail. However, any CMPC member can request that a minor project be reviewed at a full meeting open to the public.
Briefing notebooks of proposed project information are provided for the committee members in advance of the meetings for their review. Coastal Resources Division staff issues findings and recommendations to the committee for their consideration as they deliberate on the permit application for the proposed project.
On more controversial or larger projects, a public hearing may be held in advance of the committee meeting. CMPC and SPC meetings are open to the public, who can make comment on the proposed projects under consideration during the meeting.
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.