This isn’t Gary Nevill’s first, or second, time around the Mainland Planning Commission’s block.
While it’s his second term appointed by Glynn County Commissioner Bob Coleman, the surveyor with Shupe Surveying Company on U.S. Highway 17 has served two terms from 2002 to 2010, under a different county commission.
“On a planning commission, I think they should have a surveyor, an engineer, a landscape architect, or even an architect, just because of the way those professions deal with the rules. They read them, they interpret them, they have to follow them,” Nevill said. “As a surveyor, we deal with zoning and subdivision regulations. Maybe not on a daily basis, but I refer to this manual every week, and I probably talk to staff every week.”
After exiting the U.S. Marine Corps, Nevill attended the University of Florida, where he earned a land surveying degree and now holds the position of vice president at Shupe Surveying.
“The underlying foundation is they know the ordinances, and they know them better than a regular citizen of Glynn County,” he said. “I can’t think why someone would want to pick that up and read it unless they have to.
“We’re entrenched in these rules, and that’s one reason why we’re looking forward to the rewrite. I’ll be involved in the planning commission and one of my partners (at Shupe Surveying) will be on the stakeholder committee. We have a real vested interest in this and seeing these rewritten correctly.”
Among the changes he’d like to see is more leeway for the planning commissions in making decisions about site plans and zoning recommendations. He said the county’s zoning ordinance allows for approval if something checks the boxes, and denial if it doesn’t.
“Basically if I said ‘This meets all the requirements but I don’t think it’s good for the community,’ I would probably say that I will not vote against it because it meets the requirement but I would not vote for it.
“There isn’t a caveat in there,” Nevill said. “If you meet all the requirements, there’s nothing in the rules that says, ‘But if it is not something good for that neighborhood or for Glynn County, what is our recourse for steering them in a different direction or not approving it.’ In other words, if you wanted to put a high-rise apartment in the middle of St. Simons Island next to the school, is there a way to say ‘No?’ In the regulations, we don’t see it. I’m hoping that can be addressed in the rewrite. That might be more planning commission rules and regs, but there might be something in the zoning they do for approval.”
As an example of new rules he’d like to see, Nevill said the county commission should have authority to further review applications that “check the boxes” but would be a detriment to the surrounding area or the county as a whole.
Along with some more technical amendments to the ordinance, he said he’d also like to see it streamlined.
“Just make it easier to follow,” Nevill said. “Right now you have to jump around back and forth. There are some shortcomings in other parts of the ordinance.”
In his fourth overall term on the planning commission, Nevill said he’s glad to have an injection of new blood.
“I’m really glad for the new members we do have, and I’m looking forward to hearing their input,” he said.