Savannah Chatham County Public Schools, Construction and Maintenance of an Educational Dock Facility, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, Richardson Creek, Chatham County, Georg


This serves as notification from the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources of a request from Savannah Chatham County Public Schools for the construction and maintenance of an educational dock facility under Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) 12-5-280 et seq., associated with the Oatland Island Wildlife Center located on Richardson Creek, Chatham County, Georgia. The project is less than 1/10 of an acre and is considered a minor alteration of coastal marshlands under O.C.G.A. 12-5-280 et. seq.

The existing dock facility was constructed in the mid-1970’s to serve as an educational area for the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. The enclosed dock house and support structures sustained extensive damage during Hurricane Irma and are no longer serviceable. The applicant proposes to reconstruct the walkway and fixed deck 1ft. further above Mean High Water (MHW) than the existing damaged dock, build a new partially-enclosed covered area on the new fixed deck, and maintain use of the existing pilings, floating docks, and gangways.

The proposed dock will consist of a 12.2ft. x 21.4ft. walkway leading from the upland to a 2,101sq.ft. irregular fixed deck. A 22.7ft. x 31.6ft. partially enclosed covered area will be located on the northwest corner of the irregular fixed deck. A 12sq.ft. wooden gangway support on the north side of the fixed deck will support a 2.8ft. x 18.9ft. gangway that will access a 9.9ft. x 39.5ft. floating dock. A 10sq.ft. wooden gangway support on the south side of the fixed deck will support a 2.8ft. x 16.8ft gangway that will access a 9.9ft. x 39.1ft. floating dock. The proposed dock facility will extend into the waterway approximately 44ft. at a location in the creek that is 130ft. wide at Mean Low Water (MLW). The nearest dock facility is approximately 1,350ft. to the south, and there are no dock facilities on the waterway to the north. As proposed, the project will impact approximately 3,262sq.ft. (0.07 acres) of coastal marshlands.

The upland component will consist of a10ft. x 12.2ft. concrete path and a 13.2ft. x 12ft. concrete ramp within the 50ft. marsh buffer. The path and ramp will provide ADA access to the dock facility from the grass parking area.   

It is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate that the project is not contrary to the public interest and that no feasible alternative sites exist. Impacts to coastal marshlands must be minimal in size. In passing upon the application for permit, the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee shall consider the public interest: (1) Whether or not unreasonably harmful obstruction to or alteration of the natural flow of navigational water within the affected area will arise as a result of the proposal; (2) Whether or not unreasonably harmful or increased erosion, shoaling of channels, or stagnant areas of water will be created; and (3) Whether or not the granting of a permit and the completion of the applicants proposal will unreasonably interfere with the conservation of fish, shrimp, oysters, crabs, clams, or other marine life, wildlife, or other resources, including but not limited to water and oxygen supply. 

Please provide this office with substantive, site-specific comments as to why the proposed work should or should not proceed.  Comments and questions concerning this proposed project should be submitted in writing by the close of business on December 20, 2018 to Paul Tobler, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, One Conservation Way, Brunswick, Georgia 31250.

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