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Sen. Jeff Chapman Introduces Stewardship Legislation for Jekyll

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POSTED: February 26, 2008 5:00 a.m.
ATLANTA - Sen. Jeff Chapman (R-3rd District), representing the coastal region of Georgia, including Jekyll Island, has introduced three bills, SB 426, SB 427, and SB 428, in response to opposition to the development of a condo-hotel-retail "town center" on Jekyll's main beach. These bills provide long-term stewardship for Jekyll Island State Park and limit commercial-private development on publicly-owned land.
One of the bills, SB 427, provides the legal language needed to prevent the commercialization of Jekyll's remaining open expanse of beachfront. The legislation would preserve the seashore in its natural beauty into perpetuity. According to Chapman, the open expanse of Jekyll's main beach is one of island's most beautiful features and the centerpiece of the park's attraction to visitors.
Comments the senator has received from around the state show that citizens, by and large, stand opposed to building a town center in a state park, particularly on a public beach that belongs to all Georgians, Chapman said.
"The major message I hear," Chapman said, "is let's rebuild and revitalize existing facilities instead of encouraging massive new development. My purpose with this legislation is to honor the wishes of the people of Georgia, honor the original charter for Jekyll, and prevent a King Midas touch from destroying the peaceful, natural beauty of the people's seashore."
The first bill of the three-part package, SB 426, creates an overarching principle for all of Georgia's state parks, historic areas, memorials and recreational lands. Primarily, Chapman said, it seeks to prevent state-owned properties from becoming targets for future residential development. The bill prohibits the building of single-family or multi-family residential housing or condominiums on all publicly-owned land in the state park system.
SB 428, the final bill, addresses the issue of keeping Jekyll Island affordable for all Georgians. It requires that 70 percent of all new accommodations not exceed the annual average daily rate of other lodgings in Georgia's state park system. The legislation does not affect existing hotels and allows for up to 30 percent of new rooms on the island to be priced on the high end. In addition, the bill provides needed legal definitions to prevent loopholes that exist in current law from being exploited in future development projects.
"Overall, these three bills accomplish everything necessary to ensure the revitalization of Jekyll and provide for the long-term stewardship of the people's park." Chapman said.
 

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