Recommendation 3-B:   Preserve Jekyll Island’s remaining open beachfront in its natural condition

The 1996 Master Plan states that, “All previous plans have consistently recognized that Jekyll Island’s principal attraction is the accessibility it provides to an unspoiled microcosm of the coastal environment. It is this unique opportunity upon which all future plans for the island’s viability should be based.”

Ensuring that Jekyll Island’s currently unobstructed beachfront remains open and accessible to the general public rather than developed for commercial purposes is a goal that is consistent with the Master Plan statement above and with the accessibility mandate in Jekyll Island State Park’s founding legislation. It is also in line with the development recommendations made in Jekyll Island Comprehensive Land Use Plan (prepared for the JIA in 1983 by the Institute for Community and Area Development, University of Georgia) and with the 1996 Jekyll Island Master Plan and the 2004 Master Plan Update:

  • “A linear belt of land lying along the beach shall be classified as ‘zone of no encroachment.’ This zone is to be left in a natural state or restored to its natural state. Crossover structures may be permitted, if the Authority approves them…. No new development along the beach will be permitted. Existing facilities may be rebuilt, except those classified as non-conforming uses.” -- Jekyll Island Comprehensive Land Use Plan (1983)

  • “The focus of this Master Plan for Jekyll Island is on providing new programmed activities and enhancing existing facilities and amenities rather than stressing development of new accommodations or major attractions…. Jekyll Island’s lodging and accommodations have abundant capacity, and no new major additions are needed until occupancies and revenues improve significantly.” -- “Program Recommendations,” Jekyll Island Master Plan (1996)

  • “The Authority should pursue options to enhance revenue within the 35 percent parameters of the 35/65 rule through a program of primarily redeveloping sites already considered developed while implementing a plan to assure conservation of the island’s natural resources.” – Jekyll Island Master Plan Update (2004)

The preservation of Jekyll’s open beachfront as a natural amenity and a visitor attraction gathers added importance in view of the growth of public demand for access to Jekyll’s beaches that will come with the 50 percent increase in Georgia’s population that is projected over the next 20 years. 
 
- By David Egan, Co-Director, The Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island [degan@igc.org]