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Proposed marina in Bryan County gets OK
marina - Roy Barnes
Former Gov. Roy Barnes, as attorney for Billy Butler, listens as the Coastal Marshlands Committee deliberates Bryan County’s permit application for a marina near Red Bird Creek. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
The Coastal Marshland Committee unanimously approved Bryan County’s proposed Waterways Township marina near Red Bird Creek during Friday’s joint meeting of the Coastal Marshlands and Shore Protection Committees at the Coastal EMC Building in Midway. The committees are under the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The Coastal Marshlands Protection Act permit application was approved with some modifications made by the committee.
In a memo to committee members, Committee Chairman Chris Clark said, “ … the area is to be used, among other things, for recreation and for facilities necessary to accommodate an authorized use.”
“We are a water community,” said Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed, in reference to the number of residents who own boats and desire more water access for recreational use.
The county agreed to a 99-year lease with the private developers of Waterways Township, Savannah Landholdings LLC, to provide access to Red Bird Creek for township residents and for local residents who do not live in the development.
 “This project would be at no cost to the taxpayers. That’s the plus,” Burnsed said.
County officials said the county also needs more dry storage for boats, and that 100 of the project’s 200 dry dock storage units would be reserved for the public.
Some people opposed the project, viewing its passing as a public betrayal.
“You are inviting a development that is going to completely destroy the Heritage Trust area,” said former Gov. Roy Barnes.
Barnes, in his role as attorney, spoke on behalf of his client, Billy Butler. Butler is part owner of the existing Kilkenny fisherman’s co-op, and he has plans, which received approval from the county’s planning and zoning office, for a 3,000-square foot marina, a dry dock and condos. Butler and Barnes have previously threatened to sue Bryan County for $10 million, alleging the county’s project will both devalue Butler’s neighboring Kilkenny marina project as well as infringe on historic preserved marshlands.
“The public interest is being subverted to a private interest,” he said.
Richmond Hill property owners Richard and Helen Dickinson, who own a second home on the marsh, were disappointed with the permit approval.
“The public interest wasn’t represented by the public servants (DNR),” Richard Dickinson said. “They made an exception for a private entrepreneur. The fact is, the public will be blocked from going in there.”
Waterways Township, formerly Genesis Point, encompasses 2,200 acres in south Bryan and will have nearly 3,000 residential units.

Bryan County News staff writer Ross Blair contributed to this story.
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