IPJI’s Co-Directors, David and Mindy Egan, have joined with the Center for a Sustainable Coast in a law suit filed on 5 April 2011 against the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for its disregard of the formal and required permit process for land alteration and shore engineering activities within the jurisdictional area of the Shore Protection Act.

Instead of adhering to the Shore Protection Act—which includes a lengthy list of requirements and restrictions regarding issuance of a permit, and provides for public notification of a request for a SPA permit, assessment of permit applications by the Shore Protection Committee, and an opportunity for members of the public to request administrative and judicial review of decisions reached by the SP Committee—the DNR has been issuing letters of permission, which are handed out without public notification, without review by the Shore Protection Committee,  and without an opportunity for public comment. No alternatives to the formal and required permit process are mentioned or implied in the Shore Protection Act.

The use of letters of permission not only is without a legal foundation but there are no records of when, how or why this practice came about, and no official records regulating their use or specifying provisions for monitoring/enforcing the terms included in a letter of permission. In effect, letters of permission are the equivalent of “Permit-Lite,” and, as such, their use undermines the integrity of the Shore Protection Act and opens the door for beachfront projects that may be contrary to the public interest. 

The most recent use of a letter of permission was for staging scenes for the Twentieth Century Fox film X-Men on 4.5 acres of beachfront land on Jekyll Island this past December. That project is the largest ever authorized through a letter of permission.

Supporting documents regarding the DNR’s use of letters of permission:

Southern Environmental Law Center letter to DNR questioning the practice of use of Letters of Permission.

Letter from Environmental Attorney, Don Stack,  to the DNR and Attorney General questioning the practice of use of Letters of Permission.

Petition filed in Glynn County Superior Court regarding use of Letters of Permission.