Future of Sapelo Island discussed in McIntosh Co. commission work session

Published: Sep. 11, 2023 at 10:27 PM EDT
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MCINTOSH COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - The fear of erasing history made for a packed room in the McIntosh County Courtroom where the county commission held their work session before Tuesday’s meeting - a conversation surrounding future development on Sapelo Island that locals of the island are saying would destroy the culture of the island.

This is the second meeting surrounding the proposed ordinance that would allow larger homes to be built on the island. At last week’s public hearing, the zoning board proposed changes to lower the allowed size of homes that can be built as well as remove any talk of golf courses being added to the island.

WTOC was not allowed to record Monday night’s meeting for the second time, but those in attendance had this to say.

“We love it. We would never consider changing it, we love it the way it is,” said Linda Grabitt.

Locals and island visitors lined the courtroom as the McIntosh County Commission discussed the future of Sapelo Island. A proposed ordinance would allow homes to be built over double the size of those currently on the island.

“If you allow this expansion of the homes, it’s going to destroy Hog Hammock,” said Linda Grabbitt.

Linda Grabbit and her husband have been visiting the island for years and say the culture is what keeps bringing them back.

A culture the Gullah-Geechee descendants are trying desperately to hold on to.

“Just because you have the money, doesn’t mean you care about our soles,” said Karen Grovner-Hillery, a Gullah-Geechee descendant.

“If we continue to allow people to keep making moves without involving the locals that are there, the culture is going to die out,” said Breanna Jones.

According to Commissioner Roger Lotson, he believes that the county is trying to find a compromise by already lowering the size from the original 6,000 square feet to 3,000 square feet. But, he hopes that the commission will take the time to consider the locals.

“I feel good that they heard enough to cause them to think before they cast the vote, When I walked in the building today I felt as if the vote was cast today, I would have lost,” said Commissioner Lotson.

But the future of the Island could be determined Tuesday…

“The key thing tomorrow is that we will either vote to postpone it or we will take a vote on the ordinance,” said Lotson.

Tuesday’s meeting will be held at the McIntosh County Government Office at 5 p.m.