Jekyll Update: 66 Acres Added to Development

After much controversy that led to the issuance of an Official Opinion from the Georgia Attorney General, on September 16, 2013, the Jekyll Island Authority Board approved a draft master plan for consideration by the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee and the public. View plan (PDF)

The Jekyll statute limits development to 35% of the “land area above water at mean high tide.”  Based upon this statutory language, a JIA Task Force concluded that the total land area of the island was 3,817 acres, that 1,472 acres had been developed, and that 38.6% of the island’s land area above water at mean high tide had been developed.  The Task Force also concluded that 1725 acres of adjacent marsh should not be included in the total land area of the island because marsh is not land and the adjacent marsh is not above water at mean high tide. 
In the draft plan, the JIA concluded that the land area of the island above water at mean high tide is 5,530 acres and that 1,609 acres (including 12 acres of campground that has yet to be developed) or 29% of the land area is currently developed .  This conclusion is based upon including almost all of the adjoining 1,725 acres of marsh as part of the land area of the Island although most of that marsh is not above water at mean high tide.  Due to controversy surrounding the JIA’s conclusion, the JIA Board also signaled its intention in the draft plan to seek legislation in the next session to delete the 35% development limitation and substitute a fixed number of acres that can be developed.  After much negotiation, the number would be 1,675 acres which would include 1,597 acres that are currently developed, 12 acres limited to a campground expansion, 46 acres limited to health, public safety, and public recreational purposes, and 20 acres without any restrictions.Assuming the final details of any proposed legislation are acceptable, GreenLaw will support this fixed acreage legislative change to the Jekyll statute.
The Legislative Oversight Committee will review the draft master plan on October 17 at 2:00 p.m. at the JI Convention Center, and a public hearing (that will be webcast) will be held on October 22 at 6:00 p.m. at the JI Convention Center.  The JIA Board will meet on November 18 to formally consider adoption of a final master plan.
GreenLaw will continue to take all appropriate action to advocate on behalf of limited development on Jekyll Island consistent with the clear legislative intent to preserve the natural beauty and resources of this state park which the  legislature has described as “Georgia’s Jewel.”  This will include taking all necessary action to insure that any proposed legislation is consistent with the original legislative intent to preserve this unique island and limit development accordingly. - See more at: