Satilla River Landing Comments

April 28, 2004

Submitted via E-mail and U.S. mail

Ms. Jeannie Butler
Coastal Resources Division
One Conservation Way, Suite 300
Brunswick, GA 31520-8687

Re: Satilla River Landing

Dear Ms. Butler:

As with previous projects recently considered for permitting under the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act, we advise that the project should be evaluated in its entirety, consistent with the Emerald Pointe finding. Accordingly, the CMP Committee should be provided information that ensures reliable assessment of the proposed projectıs impacts on water quality and the various species of concern. In addition to requiring retention and/or detention basins and appropriate filtration devices needed to protect water quality and aquatic species from non-point source pollution generated by the project, we stress the importance of monitoring and assessment after the project is built to ensure environmental quality.

Echoing our past comments, it is reasonable to require the project developer to share in meeting the costs of the monitoring and assessment that his project makes necessary, especially considering the significant profit that will be generated by private use of public resources. We estimate that the cost of sharing the burden of monitoring and assessment would be a miniscule portion of the revenues produced.

Further, I urge the staff and CMP Committee to consider the relationship of this proposal with several recent projects in Camden County that are either permitted or still under review for CMP permits. As we understand it, the cumulative boat storage capacity to be built with this project and the previous two projects amounts to more than 2,000 vessels. As the Committee considers this permit and others in the future, surely it is reasonable to ask them to evaluate the need for such facilities in light of other demands on coastal resources under the purview of the CMP Act. By prematurely committing the use of public resources for this or any other private projects, in issuing a permit for facilities for which current demand is lacking the Committee may be unwisely precluding the ability to meet more pressing priorities for using (or protecting) public resources that may arise.

In short, it is reasonable to expect the Committee to take into account the capacity and condition of resources they are obligated to protect as these resources are affected by, and needed to meet, existing and foreseeable cumulative demand that may (or may not) substantiate individual permits being issued. Without this broader perspective, by issuing individual permits on a case-by-case basis with no accountability of long-term need or consequences, the Committee cannot protect the public interest.

We strongly advise that you adopt an 'adaptive management' approach to permitting under the CMP Act, which will ensure both a wider perspective and a range of adjustable permitting conditions that are linked to reliable monitoring and assessment on a continuing basis. Incremental permitting fails to account for the cumulative consequences of individual permits while also neglecting to identify and evaluate competing demands for coastal resources over time that must be balanced and controlled in protecting essential ecosystem functions.

Permits should only be issued when (1) their impacts on resources are believed to be acceptable based upon the best possible science available (with the burden of demonstrating this being on the applicant), (2) such impacts are monitored for compliance with standards applicable to the permit (costs for which are substantially shared by the applicant), and (3) the applicant substantiates demand for the project that is necessary to justify its imposition on public resources in light of other factors identified by CRD in an adaptive management plan. Otherwise, over time the compounding impacts ensuing from multiple permitted activities may exceed ecosystem capacity, causing decline in resource conditions that cannot be attributed to any particular activity and for which there may no reasonable remedy. Even if there is a remedy under such circumstances, undoubtedly the cost for providing it will be imposed on the public by default rather than on the various permit holders who have profited by using public resources without being held accountable for ensuring their protection.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this permit. We welcome your response about any aspect of our comments and concerns.


David C. Kyler
Executive Director
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