Chatham County Leaders Say EPD Is Dragging Feet On Boat Ramp Exp - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Turner Creek Boat Ramp Proceeds Despite Possible Lawsuit

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Chatham County leaders are proceeding with a risky plan to expand a local boat ramp on the islands, despite not having the approval of state regulators.

County leaders voted Friday morning to move forward, after saying they have heard nothing but crickets in four months of attempts to reach out to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Now they leave themselves open to a possible lawsuit.

The Turner Creek Boat Ramp sits right between Whitemarsh and Wilmington Islands off of Johnny Mercer Boulevard. Right now the boat ramp only has one ramp, and on a busy day, that can cause some pretty big lines. That's why county leaders want to put in a new ramp with two lanes. They'll also install restrooms and a paved parking lot.

But the EPD has not approved construction because of the impact to the surrounding marshland. County leaders voted last month to make one final push to get an answer from the EPD, and they say they still heard nothing. So, now it's time for action. And they'll start accepting construction bids right away. County leaders say they are still hoping to obtain the proper permits from the EPD so they can move forward legally.

An EPD spokesman told News 3 Friday afternoon that they looked at the county's proposal and requested a revised plan. They say they still have not received that revised plan. And that's where they stand.

 

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Chatham County leaders want to expand a local boat ramp on the islands, but first they have to cut through some red tape.  

The Turner Creek Boat Ramp sits right between Whitemarsh and Wilmington Islands off of Johnny Mercer Boulevard.

Right now the boat ramp only has one ramp, and on a busy day, that can cause some pretty big lines.  That's why county leaders want to put in a new ramp with two lanes.  They'll also install restrooms and a paved parking lot. 

But the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has not approved construction because of the impact to the surrounding marshland.  So Friday morning, commissioners voted to petition state regulators for the next two weeks, who they say have ignored them for more than three months.  If those attempts to reach out to state officials don't come to fruition soon, District 4 Commissioner Patrick Farrell says he wants to move forward with construction anyway until state regulators make them stop. 

"I am trying as we speak to push this project forward.  I've been trying for years to get this thing going," said Farrell. 

If the county does move forward without state approval it will be up to the EPD to decide if they want to sue.  But Farrell and Project Engineer Nathaniel Panther each say they are confident their argument will hold up in court. 

Farrell says construction will take about six months once it begins. 

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