invisible hit counter
Sea Island plan on agenda
After a two-month delay to allow for negotiations with neighboring property owners, Sea Island Co. is returning to the Islands Planning Commission today to seek approval for an eight-lot subdivision between the Atlantic Ocean and the Black Banks River.

On the agenda for the meeting at 6 p.m. at the St. Simons Island Casino, 530 Beachview Drive, is a review of a preliminary plat for the development known as Cloister Residences East. The property is an undeveloped, 7.3-acre area southeast of the The Cloister hotel on Sea Island.

Some neighbors of the property and some other citizens have expressed concerns about the proposed development and the effect it could have on Sea Island's infrastructure and natural resources.

James Holland, a self-described environmental advocate and former Altamaha Riverkeeper with the environmental group of the same name, contends that at least one lot is in immediate proximity to the island's salt marsh.

"On those eight lots, there's an awful lot more questions than answers," Holland said. "Lot No. 8 extends out into the marsh. There are areas that are only 60 feet wide, and 50 feet of that is going to have to be marsh buffer. That only leaves 10 feet to do something with."

Holland says two other lots are in an area where sand dunes have eroded. He describes the area as "delicate," and one sometimes used by sea turtles for nesting.

In an email to planning commission members, Frederick Marland, a marine scientist and a retired employee of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, argues that the location is "unstable" for the proposed development.

"As the ocean rises, what are today's spring tides (that are usually high when the Earth, sun and moon are in line) will be tomorrow's high tide line," Marland wrote.

"It is clear the site lacks enough land for construction, never mind on a spit without stable dunes, now fast eroding with elevation barely above average tides and flooded on spring tides," Marland wrote.

The planning commission staff, however, has recommended approval of the proposed project.

Jim Gilbert, Sea Island Co. lawyer, told the planning commission at its December meeting the company was negotiating with a lawyer for neighbors of the property who were concerned about the development. He estimated then that an agreement would be reached before the planning commission's January meeting. He did not immediately return calls seeking additional comment Monday.

Also on the commission agenda is an unrelated request from Island Sites, owner of the western portion of the Shops at Sea Island, to reduce a 50-foot buffer along Sea Island Road on St. Simons Island to 30 feet. The request was made by William Stembler, president of Georgia Theatre Co., which operates Island Cinemas 7 at the site.

While agenda documents do not outline the reason for the request, Bill Edenfield, agent for Island Sites, said Monday the request is to match the buffer to what is required on neighboring plots and to accommodate a future bike trail.

"The buffer to the west side of that (Island Sites location) is 30 feet," he said. "What this request is, is to make this buffer the same width."

* Reporter Kelly Quimby writes about government and other local topics. Contact her at, or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

View Full Site