The Altamaha Riverkeeper and the Center for a Sustainable Coast filed a challenge today to the Glynn County Islands Planning Commission’s (IPC) procedurally flawed approval of zoning ordinance amendments that allow construction of a dangerous and ill-advised subdivision on the southern end of Sea Island, also known as the “Spit.” The environmental protection groups are represented by GreenLaw senior attorney, Steve Caley.
At its January 21 meeting, the IPC approved a preliminary plat submitted by Sea Island Acquisition to subdivide an eroding area of the Spit at the southern end of Sea Island into eight lots. The IPC’s action generated widespread public concern and opposition, including a “Save the Spit” online petition which has over 750 signatures, with more being added daily.
The groups assert that the Glynn County Board of Commissioners have a legal duty to act in this case because the IPC’s action includes the approval of amendments to the Glynn County Zoning Ordinance that allow the construction of a road and two bridges through valuable marshland, hasten the destruction of an area that has eroded 100 feet in the past 10 years, encourage home building in an area that is not eligible for federal flood insurance, create a public safety nightmare with only minor storm activity, and destroy critical wildlife habitat for sea turtles and birds.
“Approving this project would set a dangerous precedent by allowing development in an extremely fragile and hazardous area,” says David Kyler, Executive Director of Center for a Sustainable Coast. “It would impose unfair and unwise burdens on the public and surrounding property owners.”
“With the current rate of erosion that is only expected to increase with rising sea levels, the already narrow Spit is eroding much faster than any other shoreline in the area,” says Caley. “Moreover, one of the lots in this proposed subdivision is barely above water under normal conditions – one to three feet above mean sea level. The time has come for the Board of Commissioners to send a strong message that passing zoning ordinance amendments under the guise of approving a preliminary plat in order to allow such irresponsible development will simply not be permitted any longer in Glynn County.”
Deborah Sheppard, Executive Director of the Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK), stresses the importance of public engagement in the process. “We are calling on the Glynn County Commission to overturn the actions of the IPC and hold a properly noticed public hearing to fully consider the implications of this proposed development. ARK encourages citizens to contact the members of the County Commission and IPC to voice opposition to developing this fragile ecosystem, “says Sheppard.
The groups’ hope is that the Board will act to preserve the last remaining pristine area on Sea Island and reject the zoning ordinance amendments to allow the proposed development.