Proposed zoning ordinance that would impact Sapelo Island moves forward

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 10:39 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2023 at 11:08 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MCINTOSH COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A proposed zoning ordinance in McIntosh County brought more than 100 people from around the state to a public hearing Thursday night.

The proposed changes would impact a Gullah-Geechee community on Sapelo Island by allowing more of the area to be developed.

The Gullah-Geechee community known as Hog Hammock has called Sapelo Island home for generations and members of that community say they’d be the most impacted if these changes pass.

WTOC was not allowed to record Thursday night’s meeting but we caught up with island residents and county officials afterward.

“I’m concerned about the Hog Hammock community and the sizes of the houses that would be permitted under their recommendations,” said Dr. Lloyd Dunn, who lives in Hog Hammock.

Previously, zoning had stated that structures should not increase the cost of living so that the indigenous population is not forced off the island.

Residents at Thursday night’s meeting say the new zoning would allow for larger buildings on the island which is a concern for people who have lived there for generations.

“If you build a 6,000 square foot house right next to my 1100 square foot or my 900 square foot house, my taxes go up too, because of your house,” said JR Grovner, who lives on Sapelo Island.

The zoning commission did add some specifications to how large structures would be - lowering the percentage of the amount of land they’re able to take up. Still, residents say that’s not enough.

“Some of the changes they made for lot size are good, but some of them are still too large,” said Dunn.

The initial proposal included the potential for golf courses and marinas on the island. After Thursday night’s hearing, the zoning board removed that from the proposal.

It’s now in the hands of the county commission – the commissioner representing Sapelo Island was in attendance Thursday night.

“I’m glad they came out in mass. I counted roughly 150-160 people in the room. I didn’t hear one person who was in support of these changes. It’s important that their voices are heard,” said Commissioner Roger Lotson.

Commissioner Lotson encouraged his constituents to attend future meetings about this as well.

The zoning board approved the zoning ordinance with those changes Thursday night. It now goes to the county commission, they’ll discuss that at a meeting on Monday.

That meeting will be at 5 p.m. at the McIntosh County Government Office.