Area Eyes Path to Growth
The Brunswick News November 6, 2004 - "Area Eyes Path to Growth"
Although the following is an important first step in considering growth
rates and implications for our region, it was disappointing to see that
critical environmental issues were neglected in the article.
In this article, the reporter chose to focus on infrastructure and
taxing issues instead of the growth implications for natural resources.
I am hoping to convince News reporters to augment this article with a
follow-up on related environmental issues.
Note also that the number of building permits quoted (10,500) is
significantly lower than the number of "residential units" represented,
since duplexes and apartment buildings receive only one permit each. For
the same period (1999 - 2001), the number of housing units was 12,774.
The Executive Summary of our State of the Coast Report is on this website.
Please call or email the Center if you'd like to discuss these issues.
The Center For A Sustainable Coast
November 06, 2004 By David Royer -
The Brunswick News
David Kyler crunched the numbers on
population growth along Georgia's coast and was astonished at what
By the time today's children leave college, population in the
11 Georgia counties studied by
his non-profit environmental organization, the
Center for a Sustainable Coast, will top 1 million, nearly
200,000 more than the current population of Atlanta's
home county of Fulton.
Glynn, McIntosh, Camden, Brantley, Bryan,
Charlton, Chatham, Effingham, Liberty, Long and Wayne
counties are growing at a rate of about 20 percent per
decade, Kyler said. Building permits for some 10,500 new homes
and apartments were issued in this 11-county region
between 1999 and 2001, the most recent years for which
data is available.
Today coastal Georgia, called by some the
last frontier for undeveloped land on the East Coast,
is the fastest-growing region outside of Atlanta, in
the fastest-growing state east of the Mississippi
"What this means is a much greater burden on facilities and infrastructure," said Kyler,
executive director of the St. Simons Island-based center.
More people mean more demand on water and sewer
systems, and police and fire departments, services typically
provided by local governments.
"If taxes can't get these facilities in place
in time to meet this demand...you're going to end up
with a crisis situation of one kind or another," Kyler
In the face of this looming threat, local
governments along the coast are taking different approaches
to lay the foundations for growth.
Officials in Camden County, which has seen
its population jump from 36,925 in 1992 to 44,702 in
2002, are not ashamed to say they are aggressively
But the county stands out more for what it
doesn't have - namely, any water or sewer systems
outside incorporated areas.
Water access is handled by an outside
contractor, Woodrow Sapp. Lately, developers are even being
asked to chip in their share for some essential services.
The developers of Sanctuary Cove, a 750-lot subdivision and golf course near Dover Bluff,
are building a new fire station nearby to serve the subdivision and surrounding area at the
request of the county. The arrangement will save Camden County
$500,000 in construction costs.
The public-private partnership is a model
that works well for Camden County, which currently has
2,000 residential lots approved for development in the
north end of the county, said county manager and
planning and building director Charles Akridge.
"We don't have any overhead," Akridge said.
By farming out services to private companies, the
small county was, in effect, "achieving an economy of
Camden County could begin providing some
services in the future, but for now, it is content to let
private companies with more money and expertise handle
the jobs, he said.
In Glynn County, which currently supplies
urban services to much of the county, the only
impediment to growth may be the maintenance of its existing
water and sewer lines.
The county's population rose from 63,608 to
69,039 between 1992 and 2002, but some of the water
lines in use today are temporary lines installed by the
U.S. Navy 50 years ago.
County commissioners are spending millions
over the next few years to upgrade sewer lines in the
south end of the county, increase water pressure in the
north end and replace clogged, cracked pipes that run
under St. Simons Island.
Thursday, commissioners moved closer to
developing a master plan that will guide maintenance and
expansion for water and sewer systems on St. Simons Island
to accommodate the growth expected there.
But growth may be slow in coming to more
remote areas like Everett City, in the northwest corner of
the county, where residents still depend on well
water and septic tanks, said county administrator Charley
With so much attention focused on the islands
and the areas surrounding the city of Brunswick, it
could be years before the county runs services out that
"There's many pockets in the mainland we're
not going to get to for ages, I'm sure," Stewart said.
In 1999, the county contracted the management
of its water and sewer services to an outside
contractor, American Water Services, in an effort to save
money by outsourcing.
But the public-private relationship has been
a rockier road in Glynn County than in Camden. Commissioners have been gradually severing their
relationship with American Water after a series
of billing and management problems erupted this
Even tiny McIntosh County, which boasts that
it still does not have a stop light in the county, is
going through its own population boom, experiencing a
rise from 9,027 to 11,150 between 1992 and 2002.
With relatively high-end golf communities and waterfront developments moving into the area,
the small-town mentality is slowly changing, said
Frank Lunsford, chair of the county's planning
In order to make itself ready for growth,
Lunsford said, the county has updated its master plan and
is reviewing its ordinances to make sure they are
up to date.
"We are in the process of making sure our
ordinances are in line with the development that's coming,"
Like the county's larger neighbors to the
south, Glynn and Camden counties, McIntosh County is
working to make sure it will be ready for the day when the
coastal population edges toward 1 million.
"I would say we're a sleepy little community
that's waking up," Lunsford said, describing a
situation that could apply not just in McIntosh county, but in
all of Georgia's coastal counties.