June 5, 2019
Mr. Mark Williams, Commissioner
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, SE
Suite 1252 – East Tower
Atlanta, GA 30334
SUBJ: Request for Alternative Public Boat Ramp Access to the
DNR/Musgrove/Guale Reserve Boat Ramp
Dear Commissioner Williams:
By this letter, on behalf of the residents and property owners of the historic German Village neighborhood known as Village Bluff on St Simons Island, I am formally requesting that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources initiate and grant approval for an access road across the Musgrove Plantation/Guale Reserve property to the DNR boat ramp located in the northeast corner of the above referenced property. The GA DNR has the full authority to grant such access by virtue of long-standing policy and practice, by virtue of the documents filed with various state and federal agencies related to acquisition of portions of the Musgrove Plantation property, and under the terms of the conservation easement applicable to the property.
As currently proposed by the St. Simons Land Trust, supported by actions of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Glynn County Community Development Department, Village Drive is proposed as the sole access road to the new boat ramp. Should this decision stand, German Village will forever be negatively impacted. This negative impact is totally avoidable.
In all possible scenarios, the access road to the boat ramp should originate along the one mile of frontage the Musgrove Plantation/Guale Reserve property has on Lawrence Road, and should be contained entirely within the Musgrove Plantation/Guale Reserve property and along its border shared with Village Bluff subdivision, rather than through the Village Bluff subdivision via Village Drive.
As such, the boat ramp access road can and must totally avoid using Village Drive, which is a narrow, limited access residential road that runs through the heart of the quiet, established neighborhood of German Village/Village Bluff. Within the German Village neighborhood, children currently play and ride their bikes in front of the homes that front Village Drive. At present, and for almost a century, the only traffic concerns by residents, parents and the children in the neighborhood is the traffic generated by local residents and the occasional driver who is lost and mistakenly turns on to Village Drive.
As one viable, alternative boat ramp access route, the German Village residents propose, and I support, that the DNR and the St. Simons Land Trust use the existing, platted maintenance road, which is legally referenced and acknowledged in the grant application documents and environmental site assessment report as a cleared but unpaved road called “Contractors Road.” The proposed route could then cross the existing drainage ditch and follow the northern edge of the Musgrove Plantation/Guale Reserve property, terminating at the boat ramp.
It is my understanding that the existence of the residential subdivision to the north of Musgrove Plantation/Guale Reserve was not taken into consideration or referenced in the grant applications or conditions originally imposed by the conservation easement into which the St. Simons Land Trust and DNR entered. Necessarily, consideration of the quality of life and safety of this neighborhood is of utmost importance, and the actions of the St. Simons Land Trust in promoting use of its park must have as little impact on the adjoining neighborhood as possible.
Currently, the conservation easement permits repair and maintenance of roads existing at the time of its creation. These facts alone could eliminate the need for access to the boat ramp and park via Village Drive. Further, the current negative situation imposed by use of Village Drive as the only access to the boat ramp constitutes a change in condition that permits modification of the conservation easement to allow the location and creation of a new road on Musgrove/Guale Preserve property to access its boat ramp and other sections of the park.
As a Georgia State Representative, I stand ready to assist my constituents and the German Village/Village Bluff community in accomplishing an alternative access for park visitors to reach the boat ramp. As you know, Commissioner, I prefer to work with you for a solution that best serves all parties, minimizing the obvious negative impact to area residents, without affecting the overall project. This issue - the alternative route solution - is about fairness and reasonable accommodation for those who citizens who reside in the area and who desire minimizing the impact the Musgrove/Guale Reserve project will have on their neighborhood and chosen lifestyle.