NEW MASTER PLAN IMPACTS FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF
JEKYLL ISLAND STATE PARK

After nearly two years of work, the draft (November 18, 2013) of the updated 1996 Master Plan is now available for review. Available at the link above is a video of the October 22nd public hearing on the Master Plan as well as public comments submitted to the JIA about the draft plan.

Key features of the MP:

Abolition of the 65-35 law: The MP proposes to replace the 1971 state law restricting development to 35% of the land area of Jekyll Island that is above water (dry) at mean high tide with a statute limiting development to a maximum of 1,675 acres, which is 66 acres above the JIA’s newly defined 1,609-acre development footprint. Forty-six of those acres would be limited to infrastructure, public safety and recreational projects; 20 acres would be set aside for unrestricted use.

IPJI is supporting the proposed legislation for the following reasons:

  • Locking in the exact number of development-eligible acres is a more precise way to cap development than trying to figure out the developed percentage of the island that lies above water at mean high tide;
  • Restricting development to a fixed number of upland acres ends the debate over whether tidal marsh is part of Jekyll’s land area and thus subject to the 65-35 rule;
  • The fixed acreage approach eliminates the need to recalculate the island’s ever-changing land area with each new Master Plan due to sea level rise, erosion and accretion;
  • Limiting commercial and residential development to just 20 acres—which is 35 fewer development-eligible acres than provided for in the current Master Plan—helps ensure that Jekyll’s built environment will not grow dramatically and diminish the quality of the “Jekyll experience;”
  • Development proposals that would utilize any of the 20 acres set aside for unrestricted use would require public review and approval by the Jekyll Island Legislative Oversight Committee.

The proposed legislation should include provisions to help guarantee that the fixed acreage limit cannot be raised at some point in the future.

Revision of land use classification system: The MP has applied nationally-accepted land use classification standards to determine how best to define the terms ”developed” and “undeveloped” as they relate to land use on Jekyll Island. As a result, some 200 acres that had been defined as “undeveloped” by the previous Master Plan have been reclassified as “developed.” The total number of acres now defined as developed is 1,609. The previous MP had the developed portion of the island at 1,398 acres.

Update mapping the developed and undeveloped/natural areas of Jekyll Island: The revised MP has defined Jekyll Island as 5,530 acres in size. That figure includes the upland and more than 1,700 acres of tidal marsh adjoining the island on its backside. The map on p. 14 of the MP shows the acreage breakdown of the developed and undeveloped areas but does not indicate how many of the 3,920 undeveloped acres—tidal marsh in particular—would be subject to the 65/35 law if that statute were to remain in place. Forward-looking in its focus, the MP simply shows that 1,609 acres have been developed (including 12 acres for campground expansion) and proposes to lock in the number of development-eligible acres at 1,675.