Cagle buries measure to save Jekyll’s shores
Amendment would have limited construction on island's beaches

The Georgia Times-Union
By Brandon Larrabee
Morris News Service
April 1, 2008

Hopes for legislation shielding a half-mile of open beach from new construction crumbled Monday after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle swatted down the latest attempt to protect the swath of sand.

Cagle ruled that an amendment that would restrict construction on the island's shoreline could not be added to a bill on dock-building. The ruling killed the measure without a vote by the upper chamber.

It marked the latest in a series of setbacks to island residents and visitors, many of whom want to see Jekyll's sagging tourist infrastructure repaired but oppose a planned $352 million revitalization project.

"Once again, the people of Georgia have not had an opportunity through their elected officials to express their concerns about Jekyll Island's open beach," said Dory Ingram, a volunteer lobbyist for the grass-roots Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island.

Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, proposed the amendment as the docks bill reached the Senate floor, site of the first legislative victory last year, when critics of dramatic redevelopment of Jekyll won protections for the island's south end.

On Monday, Chapman pushed back against claims by the Jekyll Island Authority and Linger Longer, the authority's private partner in the redevelopment plan, that his efforts would endanger the effort to renew tourists' interest in the island.

"This will not kill the rebuilding of Jekyll," he said.

But Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, said the amendment wasn't close enough in subject matter to House Bill 68, which would allow as many as four neighbors to build a single dock on coastal marshlands without requiring the extra permit needed to build a commercial dock.

"One is in regards to docks and (the amendment) is in regards to building on the shore," Williams said.

Meanwhile, time is running out on a separate measure, amended in committee to include protections for the island, currently sitting in the House Rules Committee.

That bill would remove the expiration date for a coastal protection measure that opens the door for federal funding. That law is set to expire July 1, 2009.

Sen. Ross Tolleson, R-Perry, said Monday that he would likely request that the House Rules Committee send the bill to the full House.

Tolleson suggested he wouldn't ask for the Jekyll amendments to be stripped from the bill.

"I'll leave that to the will of the House," he said.