Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island
Volume 5, Issue 1
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(This will make your day!!)
Legal Action Taken to Protect Georgia’s Coast
IPJI’s Co-Directors, David and Mindy Egan, have joined with the Center for a Sustainable Coast in a law suit filed on 5 April 2011 against the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for its violation of the Shore Protection Act by using ‘Letters of Permission’ to authorize shore engineering and beachfront land alteration projects.
Contrary to the Shore Protection Act, Letters of Permission (LOPs) are issued without public notification, without review by the Shore Protection Committee, and without an opportunity for public comment. This practice is clearly illegal, as no alternatives to the formal and required permit process are mentioned or implied in the Shore Protection Act.
Neither the DNR nor the Attorney General's office has been able to produce any official records regarding when, how or why this practice came about or how it is regulated.
A review of well over a thousand pages of documents at the DNR office in Brunswick produced nearly forty examples of LOP use over the past decade or so, but there simply is no way of knowing for certain how many projects have been authorized through LOPs or how much environmental degradation may have occurred as a result of this practice.
One of the most recent and egregious examples of the use of a LOP was for staging scenes for the Twentieth Century Fox film X-Men, First Class on 4.5 acres of beachfront land on Jekyll Island this past December. That project (click here for aerial photos) is, if not the largest, certainly one of the largest ever authorized through a LOP.
In essence, LOPs are the equivalent of “Permit-Lite,” and, as such, their use undermines the integrity of the Shore Protection Act and opens the door for beachfront projects that may be contrary to the public interest.
Click here for further information regarding Letters of Permission.
Fresh News on the Jekyll Town Center Project
At the May 23 Jekyll Island Authority board meeting, the companies contracted to build the Jekyll town center’s two convention hotels, retail shops and condominiums presented conceptual designs for their projects and reported on the status of their efforts to obtain financing for what they plan to build.
- Jekyll Landmark Associates (JLA) showed its architectural drawings for a 200-room, full-service convention hotel which will be branded under either the Hilton or Westin name. The upscale, beachfront hotel will be largely five stories in height. The site will be elevated 4 feet, bringing it to 16.5 feet above sea level. JLA had hoped to break ground on the hotel by now but has had trouble obtaining the necessary financing. A JLA spokesman said the company is optimistic that it will have financing in hand by the end of the summer.
- Phelps Development Group showed its floor plan and design for a four-story, 130-room limited-service hotel to be operated by Hyatt Place. A spokesperson for Phelps said that the final details of financing had just been worked out and construction of the hotel could be begin as early as August, with a completion date possible by mid-summer of next year.
- Winding Road Development Company presented its model and drawings for the retail/ restaurant/condominium portion of the town center project. The four-story complex of three buildings will include 46,000 square feet of commercial space and an additional 118,00 square feet of loft condonmiiums and professional office space for a total of 164,00 square feet. The commercial area will include a mix of restaurants, clothing stores, and specialty shops. The 63 loft condos will average 1,100 square feet in size and are projected to sell for roughly $445,000 per unit. Winding Road has yet to secure the necessary financing for its Jekyll project but is working on an application for funding through the federal EB 5 visa program, which allows foreign nationals and their families to obtain U.S. citizenship if they invest at least $500,000 in a project that creates a minimum of 10 American jobs. A Winding Road spokesman said that federal review of its EB 5 application should take between four and six months. Winding Road also said it will continue to explore other avenues for financing its Jekyll retail/condo complex.
Financing for the private components of the town center project may now be easier to obtain thanks to the Georgia General Assembly’s passage of a bill (HB 234) which allows builders of tourism-related facilities, including convention hotels with conference centers, to recover as much 25 percent of construction costs in Georgia sales- and use-tax rebates.
Construction of Jekyll’s new convention center, which is being financed through a $50 million bond issue, continues to move along on schedule, with roughly 40 percent of the 128,000 square feet building having been completed and a finishing date projected for June of next year. The beachside convention center will be LEED Silver Certified and will feature 78,000 square feet of prime meeting space, including a 4,500-seat ballroom suitable for large conferences and special events.
Redevelopment of the Buccaneer Resort and the Georgia
Coast Inn Properties Still on Hold
On February 22, 2011, Trammell Crow, Inc.—the developer holding the lease on the now vacant Buccaneer and Georgia Coast Inn properties—informed the Jekyll Island Authority board that development of the company’s Jekyll properties “will not be economically feasible until the general economy, hospitality and second home markets improve” and until after “the delivery and stabilization” of the two new convention center hotels to be built as part of the Jekyll town center project. The JIA has the option of canceling Trammell Crow’s lease when its current extension expires and seeking another developer for those properties or continuing to collect ground lease payments from Trammell Crow while waiting for Trammell Crow to make a decision on what to do with the two properties and when.
Future of Jekyll Oceanfront (Clarion)
Resort Remains Unsettled
The future of the Jekyll Oceanfront Resort remains unsettled nearly three months after the hotel-condo complex closed its doors. A March 10, 2011 attempt to auction the 14.5 acre beachfront resort—which was appraised at $11.6 million—fell through when the high bid of $4.75 million was rejected by the owners. Several companies have since looked at the property but none has come forward with an offer to buy the failed resort. At the May 23 JIA board meeting, it was reported that property is about to go into receivership.
Jekyll Island Conservation Plan Nears Completion
The Jekyll Island State Park Conservation Plan continues to evolve five months after the initial draft was publicly introduced by the CP Committee. Now entering its fourth and final stage, the CP has come a long way since first presented, thanks in part to input provided by several hundred IPJI members and a number of environmental and conservation groups.
The CP Committee is currently working on the final draft of the Conservation Plan, which is scheduled to be submitted for consideration by the JIA board at its July meeting. To read the most recent draft, click here.
Jekyll Island Master Plan Update on the Horizon
The first steps toward the much anticipated update of the Jekyll Island State Park Master Plan will get underway this summer. Preliminary comments by the Jekyll Island Authority regarding the Master Plan review process indicate that there will be opportunities for public involvement in shaping the review agenda and in determining the substance of whatever revisions might be made in the Plan.
As many of you may recall, this past September IPJI provided the Jekyll Island Authority with detailed recommendations regarding the refinement of the island’s Master Plan. Those recommendations, which were endorsed by nearly 1,400 of IPJI’s supporters, dealt with such issues as:
- The definition of the terms “developed” and “undeveloped” land in relation to the legal requirement that no more than 35% of Jekyll Island can be developed
- The demarcation of the boundary between upland Jekyll Island and the marshland on the island’s landward side
- The determination of Jekyll Island’s ideal carrying capacity, meaning the extent of development/human activity that the island can absorb before adverse impacts occur
- The establishment of an official JIA policy on public involvement in the process of planning for Jekyll Island’s future
- The operation and management of Jekyll’s public amenities, including the advisability of privatizing control of key facilities and amenities
Since the Master Plan serves as the island’s governing document and is the prime source of official policy, its review and possible revision are clearly of great importance for all of Jekyll’s friends. IPJI will therefore be sending out periodic updates on the review process as it unfolds and will provide guidelines on how the public can best affect the refinement of the Master Plan.
IPJI to Hold Annual Meeting
In 2010, IPJI’s board of directors, with the approval of the Office of Secretary of State of Georgia, amended the organization’s bylaws so as authorize a formal membership and an annual board meeting open to the group’s members. The inaugural annual meeting will be held on November 12, 2011 on Jekyll Island at the temporary convention center in the island’s Historic District.
At the meeting, an overview of IPJI’s mission and long-term goals will be presented by board chairperson, Dr. Barbara (“Babs”) McDonald. Co-Directors David and Mindy Egan will provide an update on the organization’s current work and immediate concerns. The guest speaker will be former Georgia State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Jeff Chapman, who is well known for his work on behalf of the public interest and Jekyll Island State Park.
Following the meeting, board member Greg Lowery will lead a “facts and fables” tour of Jekyll’s Historic District during which he will share some of the extensive knowledge he has about the Jekyll Island Club, and particularly the Maurice family's Hollybourne Cottage.
Depending on the number of IPJI members who plan to attend the November 12th meeting, other speakers and activities may be scheduled. If you plan to attend—and we hope you do—please let us know by clicking here.
Details about the meeting will be sent to all IPJI members as soon as the program for the 12th has been finalized.
NOW Is the Time to Join IPJI: Membership Is Free!
If you support IPJI’s mission but have not yet formally joined our organization, please do so now by clicking here to fill out our "Join" form. The information you provide on the form will be kept strictly confidential.
If you are uncertain as to whether you have already registered as an IPJI member, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line reading “IPJI member?”
IPJI’s ability to affect the future of Jekyll Island State Park is directly related to the size its membership. We need your support, and so does Jekyll Island!
IPJI Adopts a Beach
As part of the Jekyll Island Authority’s “Adopt-a-Beach Program, IPJI will be monitoring ecosystems and beach activities and removing litter along a one-mile stretch of beach between the boardwalk at Jekyll’s Soccer Complex and the water tower to the north. IPJI’s first work session as a beach adoptee will be held on Saturday, June 25, starting at 10:00 a.m. Work instructions and trash bags will be provided by the JIA. If you will be on the island at that time or live within driving distance and would like to join the IPJI work group that day, please contact Mindy Egan at email@example.com. Come on out and do a good thing for Jekyll!
“Operation Plover Patrol” – It’s for the Birds!
Lydia Thompson, who is well known for her work on preservation and conservation of bird habitats, has recently proposed a volunteer-based, interpretive program called “Operation Plover Patrol,” the aim of which is to help raise awareness of the plight of Jekyll Island’s shorebirds and to highlight ways to help protect nesting and resting birds, particularly the endangered Wilson Plover.
The proposed initiative includes two main strategies:
1. Create an entertaining PowerPoint program for civic organizations and schools in Glynn and McIntosh Counties. The program will focus on shorebirds, the problems they face, and ways to help protect the birds and their habitats.
2. Initiate an on-site volunteer program at the South end of Jekyll. The volunteers will be on the beach during critical times for shorebirds and will educate visitors about shorebirds and their habits.
Bike Path to Be Built the Length of the Jekyll Causeway
A $250,000 federal grant will enable the Jekyll Island Authority to build a bicycle path the entire length of the causeway leading from the state park to Route 17. Click here for press article.