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Mega-dock appeal denied
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In 2007, the developers of the now defunct Tranquility on the South Newport Development in North McIntosh County applied for a permit to build a 1,400-foot community dock.
Altamaha Riverkeeper has battled the state for more than three years to prevent the permitting and construction of this dock. After ARK obtained a favorable decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals in May, the state and a collection of banks — successors to the foreclosed upon developer — requested that the State Supreme Court hear the case in a last-ditch effort to defend the dock.
ARK’s counsel in the case, Don Stack of Stack & Associates, received notice on Oct. 6 that the Supreme Court refused to hear the state’s and bank’s petition, thus rejecting the efforts to overturn the earlier rulings of the Court of Appeals and the Superior Court.
Stack said, “On behalf of ARK, we argued that the underlying issue of burden of proof had been improperly shifted to ARK to demonstrate the flaws in the permit rather than requiring the applicant (the developer) and the state to demonstrate that the permit was in the best interests of the state as is required by the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act. We contended that the permit was wrongfully issued based upon the lack of information provided to the Coastal Marshland Protection Committee.
“In short, the CMPC could not make a proper decision based upon the information submitted by the developer and blindly accepted by the state. In essence, the state had authorized a science experiment by requiring the gathering of information only after the dock was built, which would  demonstrate the lack of impact to the marsh. Because the state’s petition for cert was denied, the case could now return to the Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings should the state continue to insist that the long dock proposed for a subdivision that is no longer viable is somehow still necessary and appropriate.”
ARK Executive Director Deborah Sheppard said, “It is long past time that the state stopped defending this faulty permit. This ruling defeating the proposed long dock is a significant success for marsh protection. The court’s rejection of the state’s position confirms that the state is obligated to act in the best interests of the marsh and all the citizens of the state, not just developers. One would hope that on behalf of all taxpayers the state would quit trying to justify a permit that should never have been issued in the first place.”
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