Friday, February 29, 2008

02/25 - New bill addresses Jekyll

Mon, Feb 25, 2008
The Brunswick news

Jekyll Island is Georgia's Jewel, and Democrats in the state House of Representatives want to make sure it stays that way.
A bill introduced Thursday in the Georgia General Assembly calls for keeping Jekyll Island a natural paradise, although it is not intended to halt Linger Longer Communities redevelopment plans, said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Columbus.
The legislation, House Bill 548, would create energy efficient and green building practices on the island. It also would restrict building on the beachfront property and keep the island affordable to all Georgians.
"We want the redevelopment plan to be environmentally friendly, and we want it to be in the footprints of buildings that are already there," Buckner said. "We also want to know that this will always be a place families can afford to go, and right now, we have questions about that."
Plans proposed by the Jekyll Island Authority and its private sector partner, Linger Longer, call for a $341 million revitalization that will include new hotels and condominiums, as well as a new convention center and retail district.
Buckner's bill is not wholly dissimilar to legislation introduced earlier in the session by Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, who opposes the Linger Longer Communities blueprint for redevelopment.
The key difference, Buckner said, is that her bill coincides with Linger Longer plans for energy efficient development and is not calling for the halting of planned construction.
"The Linger Longer plans are in step with our request for green building practices," she said.
She added, however, that "This bill could impact the Linger Longer plans, but that is not the key purpose."
Ben Porter, chair of the Jekyll Island Authority, doesn't see it her way. He said the measure would drastically change their plans for the island.
"Like the Chapman bills, the proposed House legislation would prohibit the revitalization of Jekyll Island and prevent the improvements which will make Jekyll the most desirable, environmentally-friendly destination on the American coast," Porter said in an email.
Buckner said her actions come from a deep-rooted love for Jekyll, where she spent her childhood riding bikes along the island's sandy shores.
"My grandfather had a bike shop on Norwich Street and we would get bikes there and ride around Jekyll," she said. "We introduced this bill because we just want to keep Jekyll unique. We want it to be beautiful and enjoyed for hundreds of years to come."
Others signing HB 548 include Reps. Brian Thomas, D-Lilburn, Dubose Porter, D-Dublin, Barbara Massey Reece, D-Menlo, and Stephanie Benfield, D-Atlanta.
David Egan, founder of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, said he favors the legislation. He said Buckner's bill falls in step with many measures his organization is hoping to enforce.
"Buckner's bill seems promising," Egan said. "Any bill that seeks to keep the beachfront property protected, we support."

No comments: