Editor’s note: The following letter is written as a rebuttal to a letter and therefore is not subject to the two-week policy. This will be the only rebuttal allowed.
Replying to Don Daleen’s observation that solutions to St. Simons Island growth dilemmas lie in creating more higher paying jobs “on the mainland,” please redirect that thought to “Brunswick”. We have to break through the inertia in redeveloping Brunswick, and to incentivize profitable investment there, rebuilding a city attracting the kinds of employers and employees that Brunswick (and the county) needs to live, work, raise families, and pay taxes there.
In her Jan. 3 column, Star Parker described tax-deferred capital gains investments in opportunity zones, like Brunswick. Those, TIFs, density swaps and other land exchanges, and state incentives for qualified housing are key tools. City and county officials are looking at some of those, and should be encouraged to make them happen. It would also help if authorities didn’t approve island development plans just because they are legal. “Legal” doesn’t necessarily mean “desirable” and discretion should be exercised in those decisions.
Developers develop, lenders lend, builders build — they aren’t going to pack up and go somewhere else if there are equally lucrative opportunities in Brunswick. They are, after all, in it for the money, not the ambiance. We need to heavily disincentivize them here on St. Simons Island with high infrastructure impact fees, and equally heavily incentivize them to invest in Brunswick in mixed use development and housing. More retail, entertainment and other investments will follow. It’s time to focus development on Brunswick, “Gateway to the Golden Isles,” and away from the islands and I-95 interchanges.
St. Simons Island