There is a new Coastal Comprehensive Plan proposed for Georgia’s coastal region, including Bryan County.
Mike Gleaton, director of planning and environmental management division of the Department of Community Affairs, gave an overview of the plan at the recent Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center’s (CGRDC) Board of Directors’ meeting on Oct. 10 in Richmond Hill.
Georgia’s coastal region is the second fastest growing area in the state; because of its extraordinary assets, the coastal counties must be treated with special care, the plan’s summary said.
"The plan is for all the coastal counties to consider as they develop their comprehensive plans. The RDC will review the comp plan and provide the county with comments on how consistent it is with the coastal comp plan. What the committee is advising this to be is a mandatory review, and the county would possibly have to make adjustments to their plan if the coastal agency felt there needed to be changes made to stay consistent with their vision of the coastal region," said Jim Frederick, Director of the DCA’s office of planning and quality growth.
Much of the discussion at the meeting will possibly be taken into consideration for the county’s comprehensive plan, slated to be completed next year.
"It’s not only for Bryan County but Pembroke and Richmond Hill as well," said Tricia Reynolds, director for the CGRDC who is in charge of coordinating Bryan County’s comprehensive plan.
"At this point, there are a number of guiding principals and strategies advised by the committee for the local governments to be considering – there are all kinds of suggestion for preservation and quality development," she said.
Reynolds said the Coastal Comprehensive Plan still needs to be presented to the state legislature, followed by public forums over the next couple months.
"We’re blessed with a great economy, tremendous and valuable natural resources, and a beautiful environment. And the challenge is going to be to keep all that going as we continue to grow," Gleaton said.
"We have roughly half a million folks that live in this region now, and it’s important as we add people and growth, we manage what we call ‘the problems of prosperity.’ Because good things happen with growth and challenges also arise."
The advisory committee has spent the last couple years evaluating the current forces affecting Georgia’s coastline, looking at options to effectively deal with those forces and putting them all into a plan for addressing coastal issues now and into the future.
"Everything is really incentive driven. There will be the regional development commission who will look at the county implementing its plan, and if they’re doing well they’ll become eligible for some special grants and loans," Frederick said.
As Frederick put it, the positive incentives give the county encouragement to rise to the standards the plan presents for the coastal region.
Without a game plan, Gleaton said the results will most likely include sprawling development with incompatible land uses, which will eat up resources and cause deterioration of the Georgia coastline.
One main goal in the plan is to keep the area attractive for future development while preserving natural and cultural resources.
Gleaton explained the Regional Agenda for the plan revolves around a number of key points, including regional growth management, which will be created by following quality growth principals that will respect, protect, and enhance the coastal environment. "This region is ahead of the rest of the state," Gleaton said. "We’re working now to avoid the could-woulda-shoulda issue."
The finalized plan should be out for review, and on the web, by the end of October. For more information, visit www.georgiaplanning.com/coastal.htm.
"The vision of Coastal Georgia is to be a unique and cohesive region based upon innovation and excellence in all we do to preserve, nurture, enhance, and develop our abundant human, natural, historic, cultural and economic resources."