Ongoing construction of a private single-family dock on Cumberland Island has some questioning who will own and use the dock.
The permit, issued in 2015, gave conflicting information. In one section, the permit says construction was to be completed by Dec. 23, 2018, but in another section, the permit requires completion by December 2020.
The point is now moot since the DNR no longer sets a time limit on a revokable license in dock permits, said Josh Noble, Marsh and Shore Management Program Manager.
The dock must be completed, however, by April 1 as required by the federal permit granted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Noble said much of the work has already been done and the dock should be completed by the federal deadline.
The dock will have a walkway 6 feet wide and 200 feet long leading to a 14-foot by 20-foot pier head with a four-foot by 20-foot aluminum gangway which will lead to a 10-foot by 50-foot floating dock. The proposed dock facility would extend about 50 feet into the waterway.
Athens lawyer Hal Wright has closely followed environmental issues on Cumberland Island for nearly three decades. He is questioning whether the dock is really intended to for use by a single family.
The permit is granted in the name of LUMAR, a limited liability company representing property owners who plan to subdivide an 88-acre tract on the island into 10 plots. Since the tract is still in LUMAR’s name and hasn’t been subdivided, it is considered a single tract qualifying for a single- family dock.
Once the subdivision is permitted, the dock will have to be in the name of one of the property owners. Conceivably, the owner of the dock could authorize other property owners to use the facility.
“I don’t agree or disagree with folks on how they manage their upland facilities,” Noble said.
Wright said he believes the plan has been all along to build the dock before the property is subdivided, and that it will be a community dock after the fact.
“The facts underlying this permit do not suggest a single-family dock permit,” Wright said. “The dock more closely meets the definition of a community dock, serving numerous residences instead of a single private residence.”
LUMAR and at least some of the property owners are “committing fraud on the state,” Wright said.
“It’s another instance of misrepresenting things and skirting the law,” he said. “They’re already applied to subdivide.”
Once the dock is completed, Wright said it will never be torn down even if it is proved the plans have always been for the dock to be used by more than one family.
Noble said a new permitting process will have to be held if the property owners ask to make it a community dock.