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County Commissioners back from retreat at Jekyll Island
Bryan County

JEKYLL ISLAND – Looking like extras from a scene in Downton Abbey, white-clad members of the Jekyll Island Croquet Club knocked balls at various wickets on a chilly Monday afternoon on the front lawn of the Jekyll Island Club.

Inside, in one of a number of conference rooms at the historic hotel, members of the Bryan County Commission sat around a long table, talking infrastructure and how to pay for it. It was all part of the county’s first planning retreat of 2023, held March 19-21 at the hotel. Its purpose, Chairman Carter Infinger said, is to give commissioners the opportunity to focus on county business in a relaxed setting absent distractions.

“It’s good to get in a place where we can really focus on Bryan County without interruption, without worrying about day to day business back at home,” he said. “This way we can take a deeper dive into the things we need to look at.”

The cost to taxpayers is expected to be around $10,000, Infinger said, a price tag which includes food and lodging for six commissioners and at least half a dozen county staffers, most of them department heads.

Infinger said its money well spent. “We’re never together unless we’re at a meeting, so this is a chance to sit around together and spend a day or two going back and forth,” he said.

“We get to know each other and know one another’s thought processes.

We discuss things openly, and the public is invited.

We don’t go play golf, there’s no entertainment.

We do get to go to dinner together. But it’s mostly two-and-a-half days of getting things done. And there’s a lot to be done.”

The agenda reflected that.

After discussing canal clearing, Mill Creek Church Road and recreation before lunch, commissioners spent half of Monday afternoon talking comprehensive plan updates and requests for rezoning on Highway 280 with Community Development Director Audra Miller, after a number of area property owners asked at the March 14 county commission meeting to have their agricultural land rezoned for industrial.

After hearing a number of options from Miller, who said “none of this is easy,” the consensus among commissioners Monday was that a workshop involving the landowners is in order.

After a break, commissioners began discussing Belfast Keller but went into closed session to discuss real estate. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to Highway 17 study, which is ongoing as engineers wait for traffic counts from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Tuesday’s agenda included discussions on a request by the city of Richmond Hill to support a study on a municipal airport, board appointments, the Special Local Option Sales Tax, the Richmond Hill Senior Center Building and the Chesterfield project, the six-million square foot development near I-16 in Blitchton known as the Georgia International Commerce Centre.

Retreats to discuss policies have become fairly common among local governments, and many, such as one recently held at Hilton Head by the Bryan County Board of Education, take place at resort hotels. Officials say the resorts offer rates similar to other motel chains and offer conference rooms and other services.

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