Saturday, March 29, 2008

03/29 - Bid to stall Jekyll fails

Date: March 29, 2008
Section(s): Local News
The Brunswick News

A backdoor legislative attempt to keep hotels and condos away from the main beach on Jekyll Island has failed.

While that is good news for backers of a $342 million revitalization plan for the state park, it is bad news for government agencies counting on approval of the Coastal Zone Management Act to which the construction ban was attached.

Stopping the amendment on Jekyll Island also means stopping the legislation to which it was attached. The primary coastal management legislation would have extended the 2009 expiration date of the act that allows the state the receive federal funds for coastal projects.

The total measure fell by the wayside when Sen. Ross Tolleson, R-Perry, declined to push to have it added to the House Rules Committee calendar because of Rep. Debbie Buckner's, D-Columbus, amendment on Jekyll Island.

Tolleson had sponsored the original legislation to remove a sunset provision in the coastal management act that would allow it to expire in July 2009. All legislation must pass through a House or Senate rules committee in order to get a floor vote in the full body.

Buckner had added the amendment earlier this month in an attempt to halt the redevelopment of Jekyll Island, said Rep. Roger Lane, R-Darien.

The amendment included conditions that would block construction near a half-mile portion of open beach.

"Sen. Tolleson was very upset with Rep. Buckner's addition to his bill," said Lane. "He just threw his hands up, I guess."

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, said he expects Tolleson to reintroduce the measure during next year's legislative session, sans Buckner's amendment. Keen is a member of the rules committee.

Waiting a year to pass the legislation could be a risky move, but the redevelopment plans for Jekyll Island are too important to endanger and Buckner's amendment would have done just that, Lane said.

As a member of the Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Lane said he voted against the amendment earlier this month.

"The Coastal Zone Management Act is very important legislation, and it's disheartening that this amendment got in the way of it," Lane said. "But the revitalization of Jekyll Island is too serious to jeopardize."

The Coastal Zone Management Act works with the Federal Coastal Management Act to generate funds for conservation, rehabilitation and education efforts along Georgia's coastline.

Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, a supporter of Buckner's legislation, said he was disappointed with the bill's fate, but said "all kinds of things can happen during the legislative process."

Chapman introduced measures of his own in the Senate to accomplish the same objectives as Buckner sought earlier in the session, but his proposals failed to make it out of committee.

Eric Garvey, spokesman for the Jekyll Island Authority, said the failure of Buckner's amendment means the redevelopment project, which includes hotels, condos and a new convention center, is still on go.

"The Jekyll Island Authority has felt that the amendment was completely unnecessary," Garvey said Friday. "And it's regrettable that it has jeopardized an important piece of environmental legislation."

03/28 - All need access to Jekyll

Date: March 28, 2008
Section(s): Letters
The Brunswick News

We have subscribed to your paper for the last three years since moving here permanently from Atlanta.

We have been visiting Jekyll Island for over 35 years.

Your editorial published Monday, "Sneaky tactic affects Jekyll Island's future," has finally pushed me over the edge.

I have tried to rationalize your reasons for endorsing Linger Longer, and it has now become obvious.

The Brunswick News advertising revenue would increase greatly with having Linger Longer as well as having the hotels, condo rentals, sales, new retail establishments, etc. as prominent advertisers.

If you will look closely at the Linger Longer development plan, you will see that access to the primary beach areas will be monopolized by those staying in the hotels and the condos, and that readily available parking does not exist adjacent to the beach anywhere.

As a result, day visitors or those staying off the beach will have some serious hiking to the water's edge.

Jekyll is our state park and accessible to all.

Martha Lang

Preserve Jekyll Island as a natural resource

Sometimes, government decisions take on a symbolic value and make a statement about public priorities and values.

Certainly, that is the case with decisions involving Jekyll Island State Park.

The absolute top priority should be to preserve this extraordinary natural resource.

If we give any other goal a higher priority, it says something less than flattering about us as a state.

Your editorial (March 25) promotes killing the goose that laid the golden egg - again!

Celia Gruss
Sea Island

Developers destroying natural beauty of state

Today's (March 25) editorial was totally off base.

The sneaky ones are not the citizens hoping to protect their public beaches on Jekyll Island, but the "poor" developers who continue to destroy the natural beauty of the state of Georgia, be it marshland or river front.

Jane Fulcher
Sea Island

Thousands of Georgians are against development

In response to your editorial decrying Rep. Buckner's amendment to the House bill to extend Coastal Zone Management, I'd like to point out that thousands of Georgians have been polled about this proposed development and have overwhelmingly expressed a negative attitude towards it.

Most Georgians support the revitalization of Jekyll Island.

Indeed, the upgrading of Days Inn, the complete makeover of the Jekyll Estates Inn into the Beachview Club, the upgrading of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel and Crane Cottage, the tearing down of the Holiday Inn and Buccaneer in preparation of new resort facilities with many new condos are all actions which were needed and applauded.

Rep. Buckner did not oppose these projects, nor for that matter did the "average Georgian."

The majority of those polled were very much opposed to development along the beach area, which would be occupied by Linger Longer proposed project.

They would like to see this part of the pristine beach remain pristine and not blocked off by hundreds of condos/vacation homes and three new hotels.

This is not a "pretense" - it's real.

Those people occupying the condos and hotels would hog this portion of the beach, a "scarce resource" in terms of available beach at high tide.

Preserving this beach is not "micromanagement," it's good ecological sense.

Howard Sculthorpe
Jekyll Island

* For additional letters about Jekyll Island, see our Web site at

03/26 - Jekyll bill awaits uncertain fate

Date: March 26, 2008
Section(s): Local News
The Brunswick News

An amendment that would force a major change in plans to revitalize Jekyll Island awaits legislators when they return to Atlanta, but Glynn County's top-ranking House member is refraining from predicting an outcome.

House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons, has supported the redevelopment plans for the state park as chair of the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee, but he said he could not speculate on the fate of the amendment.

Keen is a member of the House Rules Committee, the next body that will consider the amendment and determine wether the House will take it up.

Introduced last week by Rep. Debbie Buckner, D-Columbus, the amendment, piggy-backing Senate legislation that would remove an upcoming expiration date of the Georgia Coastal Zone Management Act, is aimed at halting the $342 million renovation project planned for the state-owned island by Linger Longer Communities. It squeaked by the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee Thursday by a single vote.

The amendment would block construction of condominiums and luxury accommodations on a half-mile stretch of beachfront property on Jekyll Island, a vital part of Linger Longer Communities renovation blueprint.

Buckner and her supporters, including Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, say the amendment is an effort to preserve the island.

"Thousands of people from around the state are following this day by day and are in support of responsible rebuilding," said Chapman, adding that supporters have started an e-mail campaign to legislators.

"The folks at Linger Longer would be wise to embrace this amendment and listen to the people. This is what they want."

Susan Shipman, director of the Coastal Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, says the measure puts the state Coastal Management Act in jeopardy and is distressed about the overall ramifications of the legislature's failure if an extension to the act is not passed.

"I am very concerned about this amendment," said Shipman. "It puts area conservation efforts at risk."

The act was created in 1997 to allow the state to participate in the Federal Coastal Management Act.

It provides grants and funding for area organizations to rehabilitate and conserve sensitive areas of the coast. A sunset provision calls for the act to expire July 2009, and cease to exist if the measure is turned down in the current legislative session.