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Environmentalists blast development
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A dispute has arisen between environmentalists and regulators over a housing development on the Liberty-McIntosh county line.
According to Altamaha Riverkeeper Deborah Shephard, the Tranquility development near the South Newport River has not installed an 1,800 cubic foot stormwater basin as planned.
Stormwater was supposed to collect in the basin before it could carry pollution into the river and marshes.
“This particular development has been disastrous to the area, and their disregard for the environment is contributing to the destruction of the nearby marshes,” Altamaha Riverkeeper James Holland said. “They failed to install the proper filtration systems and silt fencing, but the state really doesn’t care so why should they?”
When the riverkeepers spoke to the Environmental Protection Department, Shephard said, regulators said the environmental safeguards were supposed to be installed in phase I, but since the developers had moved on to phase III they were not required to go back and finish the incomplete work.
But Brunswick EPD Manager David Crosby disputed those claims.
“I sent an inspector down there, and the basins are now supposed to be installed in a future phase, and he also did not see any problems or violations with the silt fencing,” he said.
“Since McIntosh County does not have a local issuing authority, the enforcement of these environmental regulations can slip beneath the radar,” EPD Director Michelle Vincent said. “Due to the EPD’s limited budget, the overall efficiency of our enforcement may sometimes depend on these complaints.”
The EPD blames a limited budget for not being able to enforce all environmental regulations, and it appears as though they are offering more of an excuse rather than an answer to the problem, Holland said.    
“You can trace the complacency and inactivity all the way to the governor (Sonny Purdue),” Shephard said. “He is not willing to protect our resources as he ignores the policies that have been put in place to protect the environment.”
Vincent said Shephard’s statement is incomplete since Purdue helped create a new organization called the Environmental Advisory Council that will offer its first recommendations for managing pollution in early June.
Tranquility representatives did not immediately return calls from the Coastal Courier.
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