April 16, 2014 | Spotlight

Jekyll Island Master Plan Developed through Institute of Government Collaboration

Writer: Roger Nielsen

The Georgia General Assembly and the governor approved a new master plan the Carl Vinson Institute of Government developed for the Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) to inform long-term management of the state-owned barrier island on Georgia's coast.

The master plan, drafted by Institute faculty in collaboration with the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development and the UGA College of Environment and Design, clarifies how to define developed and undeveloped land on Jekyll Island. It replaces a master plan that was adopted in 1996. Legislation approved at JIA's request and signed April 14 by Gov. Nathan Deal caps the amount of land that can be developed at 1,675 acres.

"This plan was developed through a collaborative decision-making process that included dozens of stakeholders from state and local government and the private sector," said Langford Holbrook, a community planning and project management expert with the Institute.

One of the thorniest issues in drafting the "Jekyll Island Master Plan 2014" involved determining how much of the island will remain undeveloped. The new plan adopts a fixed-acreage formula to measure developed land. The formula replaces a percentage method that limited development to 35 percent of the island's land and became the focus of a long conflict about the true size of the marshy, erodible barrier island.

The JIA agreed to a formula that classifies 1,609 acres of Jekyll Island as "developed" and limits future development to an additional 66 acres—46 of which will be limited to public purposes like public recreation, infrastructure, and utilities. Most of the island will remain in its natural state. The Georgia General Assembly had to approve the change because the island is owned by the state.

An Institute faculty and staff team that included Holbrook, Danny Bivins, Jan Coyne, and Leigh Askew Elkins worked on the plan since early 2012, collaborating with a five-member team from the Fanning Institute.

"This agreement shows how the Institute of Government can help to solve long-standing issues in the state," Holbrook said.