Target: Eric Landon, Camden County Planning Chief
Goal: Save an important wildlife haven on Georgia’s Cumberland Island from a planned property subdivision.
Officials from Georgia’s Camden County have approved plans allowing the subdivision of 88 acres of land for a housing development on Cumberland Island, the largest and southernmost of Georgia’s Barrier Islands. Nearly all of the 18-mile stretch of coast and interior oak forests are protected as a federal preserve, yet nearly 1000 acres are privately owned although under strict zoning laws preventing large-scale development. The current proposed development would result in the rezoning the 88-acres to allow for paved roads, which are required for a housing subdivision. This sets a very chilling precedent for Cumberland Island’s wilderness, and may encourage other property owners on the island to seek further rezoning. The county planning commission must be urged to listen to the many appeals that have been raised regarding this development.
Cumberland Island is home to a unique and largely unspoiled coastal salt marsh ecosystem, and has some of the most pristine beach habitats on the Atlantic Coast. It is famous for its herds of feral horses, the descendants of some of the first horses brought to the island centuries earlier. It also is a crucial sanctuary for sea turtles, whose numbers have rebounded ever since most of the island gained federal protection in the early 1970s. There are no bridges connecting Cumberland Island to the mainland, and many visitors come by ferry to seek the solace and solitude of the island and its wilderness as a way to escape and reconnect with nature.
It was with the intent of allowing Cumberland Island to return to its pristine natural state that the legislation which now protects most of the island was put in place. Allowing some of the remaining privately-owned land to get carved up for development, especially in places which would be in view of campsites or near the especially ecologically sensitive beaches, would appear to be violating the spirit–if not the letter–of the original laws.
Many local residents and conservation groups have already spoken up against this proposed development plan, but they will need more support. Stand with them and sign this petition to urge the Camden County commissioners to stop this harmful development proposal.
Dear Mr. Landon,
The plans to allow a zone variance which would enable the subdivision of 88 acres of land on Cumberland Island must be halted so that appeals from conservation groups and experts can be heard. The development plans threaten to set a precedent which would violate the express purpose of legislation enacted in the 1970s to protect Cumberland Island’s wilderness for future generations to enjoy. Large-scale development on this island would be a devastating loss for animals such as horses, sea turtles, armadillos, feral pigs, peregrine falcons, and many others.
What is also concerning is that one of the proposed parcels would be less than a quarter mile from a major campground, which would likely impact visitors’ ability to enjoy public land. This is more than an issue of allowing private property owners to do with their land as they would choose; the development plan would have wide-reaching effects that would likely have negative repercussions for the island as a whole. The noise pollution from heavy equipment and possible harm done to watersheds could affect the Cumberland Island ecosystem. Public open space should belong to all, and should not be carved up for the enjoyment of a few.
I am asking you to listen to the appeals from the many conservation groups who have joined together in voicing their concerns regarding this project. For the good of both the many visitors and the vast numbers of animals who call this place home, please stop the destructive subdivision development on Cumberland Island.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Linda N.