Coastal Groups File Challenge to Sea Island Spit Development
Media Contacts:
Steve Caley, GreenLaw, 678-595-8828
David Kyler, Executive Director, Center for a Sustainable Coast, (912) 506-5088
Deborah Sheppard, Executive Director, Altamaha Riverkeeper, (912) 437-8164

February 20, 2014 (ATLANTA) - The Center for a Sustainable Coast and the Altamaha Riverkeeper filed a challenge today to the Glynn County Islands Planning Commission's (IPC) procedurally flawed approval of zoning ordinance amendments that will allow construction of a dangerous and ill-advised subdivision on the southern end of Sea Island, also known as the "Spit." The coastal protection groups are represented by GreenLaw senior attorney, Steve Caley.

At its January 21 meeting, the IPC breached procedure by approving a preliminary plat submitted by Sea Island Acquisition to subdivide a portion of an eroding portion 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 that already has 750 signatures, with more being added daily.

The groups assert that the Glynn County Board of Commissioners has 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 will allow the construction of a road and two bridges through valuable marshland, hasten the destruction of an area that has already eroded 100 feet in just the past 10 years, encourage home building in an area that is not even 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, stresses the importance of public engagement in the process. "We are calling on the Glynn County Commission to overturn the actions of the Island Planning Committee and hold a properly noticed public hearing to fully consider the implications of this proposed development," says Sheppard.

The groups are hopeful that the Board will act to preserve the last remaining pristine area on Sea Island and reject the zoning ordinance amendments that would allow the proposed development.

Interested parties wanting to follow the issue may like the Save the Spit Facebook page and spread the word on Twitter using the #savethespit hash tag.


Altamaha Riverkeeper is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the habitat, water quality, and flow of the Altamaha River, Georgia's largest river, from its headwaters in North Georgia to its terminus at the Atlantic Ocean and its coastal estuary. ARK represents more than 1,000 members who live, work, and recreate in the Oconee, Ocmulgee, and Ohoopee River Basins and their feeder streams that make up the 1,400 square mile Altamaha River Watershed.

GreenLaw is a non-profit law firm that has provided free, high-quality legal representation to environmental and community organizations throughout Georgia for more than 20 years. GreenLaw's coastal initiative is headed up by Steve Caley, a respected attorney with 34 years of experience handling complex cases, including a successful civil rights challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999.

The Center for a Sustainable Coast, formed in 1997 by a group of public-spirited environmental professionals and concerned citizens, is dedicated to improving the responsible use, protection, and conservation of coastal Georgia's resources - natural, historic, and economic.
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