Coastal Groups File Challenge to Sea Island Spit Development
GREENLAW PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Steve Caley, GreenLaw, 678-595-8828
David Kyler, Executive Director, Center for a Sustainable
Coast, (912) 506-5088
Deborah Sheppard, Executive Director, Altamaha Riverkeeper,
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
"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
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.