University of Georgia, Construction and Maintenance of an Educational Dock Facility, Burton 4-H Center, Horsepen Creek, Tybee Island, Chatham County, Georgia

Tybee Island, Chatham County, Georgia

This serves as notification from the Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources of a request from the University of Georgia for 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 University of Georgia Burton 4-H Center located on Horsepen Creek, Tybee Island, 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 Burton 4-H Center education facility was established on Tybee Island in 1947. Existing structures include a 30ft. x 7.3ft. of Living Shoreline (218sq.ft.) authorized in 2011, and an additional 390ft. x 15.3ft. of Living Shoreline (5,967sq.ft.) authorized in 2014. An existing 13.5ft. ft. x 22ft. educational platform (297sq.ft.) was constructed prior to the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act (CMPA). CMPA Permit #366 also authorized the construction and maintenance of a portion of the existing educational dock facility consisting of a 6.33ft. x 152.66ft. elevated walkway (966.3sq.ft.) that leads to a 14.25ft. x 10.25ft. fixed deck (146.1sq.ft.). A 3.5ft. x 24ft. ramp (84sq.ft.) provides access to a 16.1ft. x 10.42ft. floating dock (167.8sq.ft.) A secondary 4ft. x 49.5ft. walkway (198sq.ft.) continues from the fixed deck and leads to a 14.25ft. x 10.25ft. secondary fixed deck (146.1sq.ft.).  Total impacts to coastal marshlands from the existing projects are approximately 8,190sq.ft. (0.19 acre).  

Current hydrologic conditions at the existing educational dock location have impacted navigation on Horsepen Creek during all tidal cycles. The applicant is proposing to remove the existing fixed decks, ramp, float and a portion of the elevated walkway. The applicant is proposing to leave the living shoreline and a 30ft. x 6.33ft. section of the existing walkway (189.9sq.ft.) that will be used for educational opportunities. This will result in approximately 6,375.9 square feet of impacts to coastal marshlands from previous projects.  

A new educational dock is proposed to be located approximately 160ft. east of the existing facility. The structure will include a 6.66ft. x 179ft. elevated walkway (1,192sq.ft) with an 10ft. x 20ft (200sq.ft.) covered observation deck at its midpoint. The terminal end will consist of a 6.66ft. x 23.33ft. covered fixed deck (155.4sq.ft.) with a 5ft. x 6.66ft bumpout (33.3sq.ft) that holds a 4ft. x 17ft ramp (68sq.ft.) accessing an 8ft. x 24ft. floating dock (192sq.ft.). Covered areas over the observation platform and terminal end will not exceed 12ft. in height from the decking to the roof peak. 

Horsepen Creek is approximately 46ft. wide at Mean High Water at the dock site. The proposed facility will extend approximately 5ft. seaward into the creek at Mean Low Water (MLW). A cradle will be installed to support the floating dock and keep it elevated a minimum of 2ft. above waterbottoms. The proposed structure will be approximately 575ft. from the nearest upstream structure and 1,821ft. from the nearest downstream structure. Total impacts to coastal marshlands for the proposed educational facility total approximately 1,840.7sq.ft. (0.041acre). Total impacts to coastal marshlands for the remaining existing and proposed impacts are approximately 8,216.6sq.ft. (0.20 acre).

The upland component of the project consists of the construction of an elevated 4ft. x 20ft. wooden walkway (80sq.ft.) that provides access to a 10ft. x 20ft. observation platform (200sq.ft.) landward of the educational dock facility. No changes to the upland component have been proposed.

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.

A detailed public notice with drawings has been distributed and is available by visiting the Division’s website: under “Public Notices”.

Please provide this office with substantive, project-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 September 19, 2021 to Deb Barreiro, Department of Natural Resources, 185 Richard Davis Drive, Suite 104, Richmond Hill, Georgia 31324.

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