Jekyll preservationists see victory in primary

Savannah Morning News
Morris News Service
Created 2008-07-16 23:30

ATLANTA - Those pushing for limited redevelopment of Jekyll Island claimed a victory in state Sen. Jeff Chapman's win Tuesday over Georgia primary challenger Terry Carter, saying the incumbent's resistance to a sweeping plan for new hotels and condos helped put him over the top.

But Linger Longer Communities, the private partner crafting a proposal for the island's future, said Wednesday the results would not change the company's plan.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting in the GOP primary, Chapman, of Brunswick, claimed 54 percent of the vote - or 9,402 ballots - to Carter's 46 percent, representing 8,003 votes.
The numbers included 88 percent of the vote on Jekyll Island, where residents have led a grass-roots challenge to Linger Longer's plans for the park.

"I do think that it is a victory for the position that Jeff championed on Jekyll," said David Egan, head of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, which favors limited redevelopment.
Chapman said the vote and the public input Linger Longer has collected in recent months sent a clear message as the company redraws its plans.

"When they do that, they just simply need to take into consideration (that) this is public property and that they're going to have to be patient and thoughtful and think long-term for the public's benefit, not to build and sell and make a fast buck and go on," he said.

A woman who answered the phone at Carter's office said he was "taking some time off."
During the campaign, Carter hammered Chapman's efforts to fight Linger Longer's expansive redevelopment plans in the General Assembly.

Chapman succeeded in blocking any development on the island's ecologically fragile South end in 2007 and spearheaded an effort earlier this year to bar new hotels or condos along a stretch of public beach facing the Atlantic Ocean.

While the legislation failed, Linger Longer announced it would abandon plans to build in the area.

Carter also blanketed the area with mailers and phone calls in an effort to unseat the two-term senator.

Jim Langford, the Linger Longer executive overseeing the Jekyll project, said nothing in the results would change the next draft of the company's proposal, which is still being developed.

"I didn't know we were in a fight with winners and losers over Jekyll," he said. "Jeff Chapman gave us some specific feedback and some general feedback over the past several months, and we listened to him, and Terry Carter gave us some feedback, and we listened to him, too."

Published on SavannahNow.com (http://savannahnow.com)