Judge to weigh sea wall off ritzy Sea Island

An administrative law judge in coastal Georgia will weigh Monday whether Sea Island can build a sea wall to protect eight upscale, yet unbuilt, homes on the so-called spit of land below the posh Cloister hotel.

Environmental groups are appealing a December ruling by the state Department of Natural Resources allowing Sea Island to build a 350-foot-long rock groin perpendicular to the spit to keep sand in place. A 120-foot wall parallel to the beach would also be constructed. A sand dune, with up to 120,000 cubic yards of sand, would be added to further buffer the homes from tides and waves.

A rising Atlantic Ocean, huge tides and erosion could threaten the homes whose lots alone run between $3.5 million and $5.5 million. Between 2003 and 2013, the beach alongside the planned development shrank by 108 feet — a rate more than double the mean erosion rate, according to a Georgia Southern University geologist.

The proposed Reserve at Sea Island recently received final plat approval from the Glynn County Commission. State and federal environmental officials, as well as environmental groups, have also raised concerns over the project’s impact on nesting sea turtles, piping plovers and the beach at nearby St. Simons Island.

The appeal, expected to last through Thursday in a Brunswick municipal court, was filed by the Altamaha Riverkeeper and One Hundred Miles.

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