Authority, task force dispute amount of Jekyll development
The Brunswick News
By Nikki Wiley
May 21, 2013

A member of the board of the Jekyll Island Authority is urging the authority to set a fixed number of acres that can be developed and lay to rest the debate whether marsh can be counted as land.

Bob Krueger, board member and former chairman, suggested Monday during a non-voting work session determining the amount of acreage available for development and using the number for future planning.

The comments, made at the first public session on the master plan update, are in response to the recommendations made by the 65/35 Task Force, a citizen group charged with determining how to measure the island and how much of it is developed.

A state law prohibits more than 35 percent of the island from being developed.

"I would like to suggest that we go back, and we look at this in a different way," Krueger said. He wants to find out how much is left to be developed and leave it at that.

"Then, to me, simplistically, you fix the issue," Krueger said."

The 65/35 Task Force says the island has already surpassed that amount by 3 percent.

The authority disputes that and contends the number is around 32 percent.

Task force members, using LiDAR technology, say total island land mass is 3,817 acres, not counting marsh.

Counting marsh, the authority says it's 5,543 acres.

Some task force members have said the authority is simply trying to overmeasure the island's landmass so there will be more land for development.

Jekyll officials have suggested the measurement doesn't comply with the law limiting development and told the state Attorney General's office it is outside the bounds of the law.

Authority officials say they are waiting for the attorney general's recommendation before deciding what to include in the master plan.

Even if the authority was to determine what acres could be developed and use that for planning, it still must determine the actual landmass of Jekyll, said David Egan, a member of the task force and co-founder of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island.

"It's certainly an interesting idea, but first off you would have to determine what number of acres you are talking about," Egan said.

Some board members are concerned about the island's financial future and say the master plan should include guidance for future boards and provide a way to return revenues to projects that have been put on the back burner, like the amphitheater that was once a major attraction.

"We need to make sure that we generate more money than we spend, or the island is just going to shrivel up," said Mike Hodges, chairman of the board's finance committee.

Board member Steve Croy suggested including benchmarks in the plan to review progress.

"Don't wait until we have hotels falling down and numbers on the island getting low," Croy said.
"What we're doing now should have been done 12 years ago."

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at nwiley@thebrunswicknews.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.