Chapman Says 'Little Guy' Won; the State Senator Supported Limited Jekyll Island Growth

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Byline: BRANDON LARRABEE

ATLANTA - Those pushing for limited redevelopment of Jekyll Island claimed a victory in state Sen. Jeff Chapman's win over primary challenger Terry Carter, saying the incumbent's resistance to a sweeping plan for new hotels and condos helped put him over the top.

Chapman, R-Brunswick, has been an outspoken critic of a $352 million proposal to revitalize Jekyll Island with new condominiums, beachfront hotels and shopping centers. The island, once a winter getaway for America's wealthiest industrialists, was bought by the state in 1947 to set aside as an inexpensive beach for average Georgians.

"I simply tried to prevent the big guy from knocking the little guy off his public bench," Chapman said Wednesday. He credited his win to "the little guy, the ordinary Georgian who doesn't necessarily have a lot of influence." Chapman faces no opposition in the general election.

But Linger Longer Communities, the private partner crafting a proposal for the island's future, said the results wouldn't change the company's plan.

With 96 percent of precincts reporting in the primary, Chapman received 54 percent of the vote. The numbers included 88 percent on Jekyll Island, where residents led a grass-roots challenge to Linger Longer's plans for the park.

"I do think that it is a victory for the position that Jeff championed on Jekyll," said David Egan, head of the Initiative to Protect Jekyll Island, which favors limited redevelopment.

Chapman said the vote and the public input Linger Longer received in recent months sent a clear message as the company redraws its plans.

"When they do that, they just simply need to take into consideration [that] this is public property and that they're going to have to be patient and thoughtful and think long-term for the public's benefit, not to build and sell and make a fast buck and go on," he said. …