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Respondents want coast undeveloped

State creating plan for coastal region

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POSTED: November 1, 2007 5:00 a.m.
Even if Gov. Sonny Perdue were not on a trade mission to Japan and South Korea, he would not be reviewing the comprehensive plan for the Georgia coast he ordered completed by Sept. 30.
The plan is still being finalized, and after presentation to the governor there will be a final round of stakeholder meetings like the one in Midway this past May.
A survey taken as part of the planning found most respondents thought the Georgia coast should be rural and undeveloped.
The rural and undeveloped settings were the most preferred options in a community choices survey taken at public meetings across the state and online.
Local committee members include Liberty County Commission Chairman John McIver, Mayor Tom Ratcliffe of Hinesville, Mayor Don Emmons of Midway and Paul Michael, the director of land resources for the Hampton Island development.
Mike Gleaton, director of planning and environmental management division of the Department of Community Affairs, gave an overview of the plan at the recent Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center’s (CGRDC) Board of Directors’ meeting.
Georgia’s coastal region is the second fastest growing area in the state; because of its extraordinary assets, the coastal counties must be treated with special care, the plan’s summary said.
Gleaton explained the regional agenda for the plan revolves around a number of key points, including regional growth management, which will be created by following quality growth principals that will respect, protect, and enhance the coastal environment. “This region is ahead of the rest of the state,” Gleaton said. “We’re working now to avoid the coulda-woulda-shoulda issue.”

Points raised
• Concerns about access to water,
• Governmental failure to enforce land-use regulations, ª The three Es: education, enforcement and economics and
• Building a constituency for controlled growth.
The DCA staff reported a question arising during other meetings — with high tech developments in meteorology; the public now has increased advance warnings of a hurricane’s approach. There is thus no need to expand and improve highways to accommodate a hasty last-minute evacuation, proponents say.
The committee and its staff are doing an audit of the ordinances of the 28 government jurisdictions in the six-county coastal area. They plan to report how the ordinances measure up to Smart Growth standards.
The audit compares local land use regulations against recognized best practices in the field.
Workshops like the one in Midway were part of a process started in 2005 when Perdue signed an executive order directing the Department of Community Affairs to prepare a plan for sustainable future development without compromising the region’s valuable and vulnerable natural environment.
DCA appointed a 35-member Coastal Comprehensive Planning Advisory Committee to study tourism, economic development and environmental management, housing and transportation issues affecting Georgia’s coastal area as it develops the plan.
Information about the plan is available at www.georgiaplanning.com 

Bryan County staff writer Jessica Holthaus contributed information to this article.
 

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