Marsh Protection Rules Draw near to a Consistent Approach; the Board of Natural Resources Will Study the Proposed Rules Today

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ATLANTA - Marsh development rules that drew scorn from some property owners and environmentalists - but praise from developers - passed a Board of Natural Resources committee Tuesday, setting the stage for the end of a battle over sensitive areas of Georgia's coast.

The full board is scheduled this morning to consider the regulations, which supporters say would make the Department of Natural Resources' efforts to enforce state laws protecting the marsh more consistent.

The rules lay out how the agency would decide whether to grant permits to commercial property owners wanting to disturb the marsh to erect a dock, walkway, boat ramp, marina or similar structure. The rules would require connected "upland facilities," such as buildings and parking lots, to be built at least 50 feet away from the marsh.

The regulations would also set standards for cleaning up storm water that can carry pollution into the marshes, and for impervious surfaces, such as concrete, that can route tainted water into the marshes.

They would not cover private property or commercial construction that isn't related to a structure that extends into the marsh, though a bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced legislation requiring a permit for any construction within 50 feet of the marshes.

Developers and their representatives said the rules were a fitting compromise.

"They're not perfect. ... But I think they're pretty darn good," said Patricia Barmeyer, an attorney for Land Resource Companies, which is involved with a court battle over how much authority the state has over marsh-side developments. …


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