code-breaking

At least not in Glynn County, Georgia. Nor, I suspect, many other places where duplicitous Republicans reign. In some instances, “protection” is a euphemism for extorting money that you shouldn’t have to pay out, if our public servants were doing their job. The Mafia and home insurance come to mind. Which is why, when the term is used by those whom we’ve hired to “serve and protect,” we are relieved to think that, at last, somebody’s doing their job. Think again.

Glynn County, Georgia, which is situated on the Bight of Georgia and has about a dozen miles of ocean front of which it can boast, claims to protect its stretch of beaches and dunes with a “Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone,” as described in Section 762 of the Zoning code. If we remember that codes are designed to deceive, that a code-breaker would be handy comes as no surprise.

Section 762 is not lengthy. Why, along with all the other sections slated for revision, it has languished on the County Attorney’s desk, instead of being forwarded to the County Commission for public consideration and adoption, is a puzzlement. Especially since the only changes involve substituting the word “zone” for “district” and giving violators somewhat less time before they risk being charged with some unspecified criminal infraction.

    762.1 Intent of District

It is the intent of this section that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone be protected from tides and high water storm surges, winds and erosion; that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone occur without adversely affecting the existence or natural features of the beach and dune areas, and that development within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone occur without subjecting adjacent property or property further inland to additional potential danger from actions of wind and water.

    762.2 Establishment of Subzone Areas.

The Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone shall be as follows:

Area A – A shorefront area with an established active/stable dune sequence extending from the mean high water mark to the first landward occurrence of either:
1) Native trees twenty (20) feet in height, or an inhabitable building existing on April 25, 1979.

2) A line fifty (50) feet landward of any seawall structure existing on April 25, 1979, unless otherwise varied or determined by the Department of Natural Resources.

Area B – A shorefront area without an established active/stable dune sequence extending from the mean high water mark to the first landward occurrence of either:
1) Native trees twenty (20) feet in height or an inhabitable building existing on April 25, 1979.

2) A line fifty (50) feet landward of any seawall structure existing on April 25, 1979, unless otherwise varied or determined by the Department of Natural Resources.

    762.3 Establishment of the Beach and Dune Development Setback Line

A development setback line shall be established as follows for the two (2) areas within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone. The purpose of the development setback line is to delineate those areas within each subdistrict where development is permissible.

Area A – The Development Setback Line shall be located forty (40) feet landward of the crest of the most seaward stable dune, as determined by the Glynn County Commission following consultation with the Islands Planning Commission.

Area B – The Development Setback Line shall be located twenty (20) feet landward of the mean high water mark, as determined by the Glynn County Commission following consultation with the Islands Planning Commission.

    762.4 Permitted Uses

1) Landward of the Development Setback Line permitted uses shall consist of those uses allowed within the underlying zoning district.

2) Seaward of the Development Setback Line permitted uses shall consist of boating, swimming, sunbathing, picnicking and other recreational uses not inherently destructive of the existence or integrity of the beach and dunes.

762.5 Conditional Uses The following uses may be permitted seaward of the Development Setback Line on a conditional basis in accordance with Section 904 provided that the applicant demonstrates that the proposed use will have no significant adverse environmental effects, such as increasing the potential for beach erosion or interference with existing established dune sequence, and increasing the exposure of inland properties to wind, water or wave damage.

1) Seawalls, jetties, bulkheads, revetments, groins, breakwaters, streets, utility lines, swimming pools, decks, boardwalks or fences.

2) Excavation of sand and/or disturbance of vegetation in Area A.

3) No development, grading, filling or other land alteration shall occur seaward of the Development Setback Line other than those conditional uses listed and approved above.

    762.6 Other Requirements

All permanent structures placed within the Beach and Dune Protection Overlay Zone, but not including accessory structures incidental to the principal structure, shall have a minimum first floor elevation of one foot above the FEMA flood elevation. The construction shall be on pilings rather than fill and construction standards shall conform to Department of Housing and Urban Development design and construction guidelines for high risk areas.

What we have here is a good example of the importance of the preconceived notion. If one proceeds from the assumption that ocean and wind are threats from which the dunes and beaches have to be protected, then man-made structures of all sorts, including asphalted parking lots, can be defined as protective. Developers, it turns out, are people who come to protect us from (Mother) Nature’s insults. The environment is not to be coddled. It doesn’t envelop; it threatens to destroy. Ergo, to counter the threat, development is deserved.

East-Beach-R6

All of which goes a long way to explain why Glynn County has designated thrity acres of vegetated sand dunes for medium density residential development. So, when the fund balances get too low, instead of raising the millage or increasing a sales tax, they can just reach into the “surplus land” cupboard and sell off the dunes for a cool three million or more. It is said “they’re not making more land,” but on the Bight of Georgia, Mother Nature has been increasing the resource base for over fifty years. Some people can remember when the Coast Guard Station was on the edge of the ocean. Now it’s back about 800 feet.

 

###
Editor's Note: This story also appeared at Hannah Blog. Image proved by author and appears to be a public document carrying a copyright from QPublic.net (fair use).

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."