JEKYLL ISLAND -- A legislative committee finished two days of
work yesterday in a clubhouse overlooking three of the state
resort island's immaculately manicured and pricey golf courses.
Although no one mentioned it, Jekyll Island was the spot where
the Department of Natural Resources drew a line in the sand on
its own environmental laws. It was here that former executive
director George Chambliss gave the order to clear land for nine
new holes of golf without securing the necessary environmental
Chambliss lost his job over the incident, and a new executive
director hosted DNR Commissioner Lonice Barrett and the study
committee this week. The committee probably will introduce
legislation in January that will lead the state into a federal
program designed to protect the environment of a two-deep tier
of coastal counties.
The committee heard some objections to coastal zone management
yesterday but they were drowned out by a chorus of endorsements
from people who said the program is needed as quickly as
possible to save Georgia's 117-mile coastline from
Under the program, all state and federal environmental
regulations would conform and be coordinated by a single state
agency. Not all permits could be obtained in one office, but
state and federal agencies would meet monthly to ensure
Savannah engineer Bill Foster, a member of an advisory
committee that worked on the coastal zone management proposal
for nearly four years, said the Department of Natural Resources'
Coastal Resources Division in Brunswick is protecting the coast
"It's very predictable. They are surely watching the store,"
Foster said. "The fact is, federal rules and regulations are not
He warned that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration would hand down burdensome and confusing
regulations along with the roughly $1 million in federal funding
Dewey Benefield, an executive with the Sea Island Co., warned
that Georgia is headed down the same road it took in 1979, when
he worked four years on the program only to have the state
decide not to participate.
The problem is the same now as then: Although NOAA says the
state has little work to do to enter the program, they keep
adding requirements, Benefield said. …