Jekyll group talks land criteria
The Brunswick News
August 22, 2012

Members of a citizen task force responsible for making sure Jekyll Island follows a state law regarding development continue to debate what constitutes developed land and how the island's land mass should be measured.

Under state law, only 35 percent of the island can be developed, and the remaining 65 percent must stay in its natural state.

At a Monday meeting of the 65/35 Task Force, named for the law it addresses, the group discussed using national standards to determine how to classify developed and undeveloped land on Jekyll.

David Egan, member of the task force and co-founder of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, suggested the group look to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Resources Inventory for guidance on how to define developed land.

Jekyll Island's master plan was created in 1996 and last updated in 2006. It contains criteria for developed and undeveloped land, but some task force members believe the criteria may need tweaking.

Currently, the island has about 55 acres left that could be developed before reaching the limit.

The group has discussed changing several areas on the island from undeveloped to developed. If that happens, it could put the island over its allotted development percentage, Egan said.

Those areas would include buffers surrounding golf courses and 21 man-made ponds inside the golf courses. In the original plan, 281 acres of golf course buffers are considered undeveloped, as well as about 65 acres of golf course ponds.

Criteria involving dirt roads are also the target of debate. The group agreed dirt roads in regular use should be considered developed, but it must now define "regular use."

"It's just a matter of getting to a consistent criteria to how you define frequently so it's not subject to someone's subjective opinion," said Ben Carswell, JIA conservation director and member of the task force.
Task force members will reconvene in September and attempt to nail down definitions.

Determining how to measure the island's land mass was also a topic of discussion. Members decided at July's meeting to use a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration standard on the eastern shore between Clam Creek and Beach Creek. Measuring the marsh side of the island, however, will not be as easy.

There is debate over whether marshlands should count as land mass.

All recommendations made by the task force will go before a steering committee and must be approved by the board of the Jekyll Island Authority.