Local environmental advocacy group One Hundred Miles appealed to the mainland steering committee Wednesday for a last-minute change to Glynn County’s proposed comprehensive plan.
Megan Desrosiers, executive director of One Hundred Miles, made the request to members of the committee in the hope that they would support an amendment to the plan just a week before it’s supposed to go before the Glynn County Commission.
A character areas map didn’t adequately fulfill its purpose, and was more of a land use map, she contended. Properly delineating character areas is intended to represent the county’s vision for what it wants an area to be.
“That’s where the rubber hits the road,” Desrosiers said.
Desrosiers said the state Department of Community Affairs, which gives final approval to local comprehensive plans, defines a character area as a specific geographic area or district within a community that has unique or special characteristics, or could become such an area, and requires special attention due to unique development issues.
She asked the steering committee to recommend the county commission give it 30 days to amend the character areas map.
Delaying the comprehensive planning process by even 30 days could have significant consequences, said Community Development Director Pamela Thompson.
“Candidly, in my professional opinion, it is not feasible to remand this back,” Thompson said.
The plan must be approved by the county commission and reviewed by the Coastal Regional Commission and community affairs department. The county then would address suggested revisions before submitting it back to the two agencies until they give approval. The county’s deadline to give final approval and adopt the plan is in October.
“I am passionate about meeting this deadline. It can be amended as you refine and we start into the work plan and see some of these ideas,” Thompson said. “I think it is absolutely vital that we adopt this on time and that we don’t jeopardize our funding.”
Missing the October deadline could lead to the county losing its qualified status, Thompson said, which would, in turn, lead to a loss of state and federal money the county uses for a variety of things.
“Before we have an approved comprehensive plan, if we were to have a disaster or a storm such as (hurricanes) Irma or Matthew, we would not be reimbursed one single dollar for any money we (spend),” Thompson said.
Members of the committee reacted positively to the plan but didn’t want to throw off the schedule set by the community development department and its consultants. Some suggested reconvening after the plan is in place to amend it.
The St. Simons Island comprehensive plan steering committee is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to further discuss the plan at 4:30 p.m. in Sea Palms Resort’s ballroom, 515 N. Windward Dr. on the island.