The forward to Jekyll Island’s recently revised 2021 Master Plan Update (MPU) states that “avoiding overdevelopment” is the plan’s emphasis. Nice words, but, in fact, the MPU does not deal with how to prevent overdevelopment but with how to help mitigate its effects. Skirting the issue in this way will not stop the steady slide toward overdevelopment of Jekyll Island.

If the island has indeed reached its functional capacity, as indicated by the 2018 Jekyll Island Carrying Capacity and Infrastructure Study, then the MPU should oppose further commercial and residential development of the island. Instead, the MPU merely says that the JIA “must consider“ how future development might affect the island’s character and that the JIA must “invite public comment and discussion of any change in land use.”

“Considering” an issue is not the same thing as doing something about it. “Inviting” public comment on redevelopment is not the same as embracing it.

The most recent stimulus for public concern regarding overdevelopment is the proposed replacement of part of Jekyll’s golf course complex with an assisted living facility, retail shops and a hotel. The JIA, through the MPU, should table this controversial proposal and instead formulate a detailed, forward-looking capacity plan that will impose a moratorium on development and preserve what’s left of Jekyll’s traditional character. The JIA’s stated goal of preserving “the uncrowded and natural character encounter that sets Jekyll apart from other destinations” would clearly be best served by taking this bold and insightful step.

David Egan

Jekyll Island

More from this section