SAVANNAH, Ga.: Ga. lawmakers weigh big change for Jekyll Island | State News | Macon.com

20
Jan

SAVANNAH, Ga.: Ga. lawmakers weigh big change for Jekyll Island | State News | Macon.com

SAVANNAH, Ga. — For more than four decades, development of hotels and attractions on Jekyll Island has long been governed by a seemingly simple law mandating that 65 percent of the state park’s land must remain unspoiled.

Now Georgia lawmakers are being asked to make a big change to the key policy that has guided conservation on the island getaway since 1971. Both conservation groups and the state authority that manages Jekyll Island want to do away with using a percentage to limit how much of its land is open to development and instead insert a fixed number of acres into the law.

The compromise was hatched last year as the Jekyll Island Authority and environmentalists debated how to calculate the island’s acreage, particularly whether marsh should be counted as land, for a new master plan to guide the park’s future. Identical bills that would write the deal into state law were introduced in both the House and Senate last week as the Legislature opened its 2014 session.

The House measure’s main sponsor is Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming, who says he learned firsthand how difficult it can be to agree on the exact size of a barrier island when he served as chairman of the legislative oversight committee for Jekyll Island. Beach-raking storms and natural tidal erosion can literally shrink an island’s land area, he said, while new technologies can alter the way we measure it.

“This is a wonderful thing for lawyers because they get to continue to argue about all this,” Hamilton said. “Why don’t we just stick a stake in the ground and say here’s the amount of acreage we can develop?”

via SAVANNAH, Ga.: Ga. lawmakers weigh big change for Jekyll Island | State News | Macon.com.

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