Alex Kearns wrote this response to Sam Candler, a Coca-Cola heir who is attempting to develop an 87-acre subdivision on Cumberland Island and petitioning the county to rezone 1,000 acres on the island for additional development:
Yesterday’s edition of the Savannah Morning News included a letter to the editor by the Very Reverend Sam Candler, Dean of The Cathedral of St. Philip (Atlanta), Cumberland Island landowner, member of Lumar, LLC (the “hardship” variance), and one of the individuals who are herding the County commissioners and administration toward rezoning the 1,000 acres of remaining inholdings on the Island.
Rev. Candler states “Our families would be as horrified as anyone if huge subdivisions were developed on Cumberland. Thus, we are investigating ways to limit the number of houses that might be built per year.”
Might I suggest that they stop urging the County to rezone the 1,000 acres to allow for development then? 1 house per every 2 acres (the number I’m hearing most often) would result in 400 houses…eventually. Who cares how many they’re allowed to build each year? Does it truly matter whether the Island is destroyed slowly or quickly? (It brings to mind the old Greek proverb “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”)
From the Very Reverend Sam Candler: “”The common good” is an aspiration used by many folks, too, from environmentalists and philosophers to economists and politicians. In our present world, so quickly connected by communication and travel and trade, the challenge of a truly common good – a common good for the whole world – is critical. Today, all our reflections and endeavors, whether they be religious or political or economic, will be tested by the value they bring to a common good.” https://www.stphilipscathedral.org/…/What-is-Good…/
Where, sir, is the “good faith” in compromising a Global Biosphere Reserve and violating the enabling legislation of Cumberland Island? Where is the “common good” in impacting the lives and livelihoods of St. Marys citizens, sullying the experience of 60,000 people per year who visit the Island, and risking the integrity of complex ecosystems?
He states (in the letter to the editor) “Finally, of course, our families have lived there; we have been baptized and married and buried on that island. It is a holy place.”
How very fortunate they have all been to have had such a wonderland in which to vacation – and I do not begrudge them that. Some of us are born heirs to vast fortunes and some of us are not. Luck of the draw. What I do question is why that should serve as some sort of argument for rezoning: “We’ve been here for a long time so we should be able to negatively impact a national park.”
Please note: I am not attacking Sam Candler, impugning his character, or in any way “disrespecting” him. In fact, I like Sam and have enjoyed my time with him. I am simply confused by the contradiction between what he writes and his actions.
Certain Island families speak often about their contributions to the creation of Cumberland Island National Seashore, and I could not admire their past actions more. But one wonders why they would not be the first in line to want to continue that work by protecting and enhancing the wilderness nature of Cumberland. Instead, they risk tarnishing their proud legacy for all time and destroying that which they claim to consider “holy.”
Join Wild Cumberland, St. Marys Earthkeepers, and other organizations and concerned citizens coming together on Saturday, June 24, in support of Cumberland Island National Seashore. The gathering will take place from 10am to 4 pm at the Gilman Waterfront Park next to the Cumberland Island Mainland Visitor Center.
There will be music provided by Friese Studio of Music, booths and exhibits, speakers, face painting, and food trucks ( Chet’s BBQ, Tony’s Outrigger Seafood, Bar None Vending, Sweet Luncheonette). Everyone in attendance will receive a free ” Don’t Develop Cumberland Island” t-shirt.
Join the fun and raise your voice to support an undeveloped Cumberland Island.
This letter written by Diane Klement powerfully expresses the main concerns about the proposed subdivision. Feel free to copy and personalize this letter, and then send it to to the Camden County Commissioners today. Thanks to Diane and to all of you for flooding the commissioners with letters like these.
Dear Camden County Commissioners,
Nestled off the Georgia coast, Cumberland Island remains one of the state and nation’s greatest natural treasures. Designated as a National Seashore under the control of the National Park Service, the natural beauty, biodiversity, and inexplicable magic of the island has enchanted and inspired its visitors since 1972.
However, the Camden County Board of Commissioners plans to rezone 1,000 acres of this land to allow for residential development by Lumar LLC which represents heirs of the Coca-Cola founder and other island landowners. These 1,000 acres of privately owned, fee simple inholdings which describes land owned completely, without any limitations or conditions, cannot currently be developed for residential purposes. If this rezoning occurs, then Cumberland will be transformed into essentially an exclusive gated subdivision.
A Cumberland Island adulterated by houses and septic systems would completely contradict the legislation which established the National Seashore. This legislation states verbatim that “the seashore shall be permanently preserved in its primitive state.” Thus, how can the Camden County Commissioners and Lumar LLC disrespect this imperative? Do the Camden County Commissioners work for the Candlers and wealthy developers, or the people?
As citizens, we must remember that the Cumberland Island National Seashore belongs to us. We cannot let private interest sully the ethereal beauty, wilderness, and unique ecological state that defines this public land to so many who love it. Thus, as citizens, we must act now to preserve this land for future generations so that they too can explore the maritime forests, undeveloped beaches, and marshes that define Cumberland Island.
To act, please contact the Camden County Commissioners at (912) 510-0464 or visit their website http://www.co.camden.ga.us/80/Commissioners for more information regarding Commissioner meetings, emails, and addresses. Also, follow Save Cumberland Island and the Cumberland Island Coalition on Facebook for updates and more information regarding the situation.
Now is the time to stop the development planned for Cumberland Island. A coalition of environmental organizations have teamed up to create the SAVE CUMBERLAND ISLAND facebook page, and they will be spearheading efforts over the next week leading up to the county commissioner’s meeting. Public outrage is monting, but now it needs to be funneled into action. This next week may be our only chance to stop the development on Cumberland Island. Join the discussion on the new facebook page and contact the county commissioners:
Regarding the public hearing concerning the Camden County Planning Commission’s decision to grant a hardship variance for a proposed subdivision on Cumberland Island, a mutual decision has been reached between the involved parties to postpone the hearing until April 4th.
Says Bill Sapp, Senior Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, “Given the numerous parties involved and in order to give the important issue of preserving the natural, wild character of Cumberland Island the time and attention it deserves, the Camden County Planning Commission will hear our appeal on April 4th. The overwhelming public response, both from local residents as well as from visitors far and wide, is a testament to this iconic island and those who want to see it protected now and for future generations.”
David Kyler, executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, wrote a powerful op-ed about Cumberland Iskand in this week’s edition of Connect Savannah. An excerpt appears below. Read the entire op-ed at connectsavannah.com.
We now face a proposal for subdividing a parcel on Cumberland Island into ten lots intended for individual homes, to be decided under the authority of Camden County and its planning commission.
If approved and built, this development would fundamentally reverse the 46-year-old agreement to safeguard Cumberland Island as America’s premier example of responsible coastal stewardship. The National Park Service must be held accountable to tax-payer obligations by implementing a plan that prevents development.
Some $100 million in federal and land conservation funds have been spent to secure and maintain a pristine future for Cumberland Island. Passively allowing the hard-won and costly national struggle for Cumberland’s protection to be negated by a careless local government decision made in disregard for national priorities would be both shameful and absurd.
Can there be any doubt that once additional real-estate development is permitted at the Cumberland National Seashore, similar proposals will further undermine the future of our unsurpassed coastal treasure? Would we tolerate such threats to Yosemite or Yellowstone – comparable national assets?
Resolutely defending the promise and longstanding public trust that Cumberland will not be developed honors our national identity and our word. It would be deplorable and demoralizing if we allowed this glorious gem of Georgia’s coast to be stripped of its enchantment. The serene experience of Cumberland must not be debased by the destructive disturbance of more residents, more buildings, and more vehicles.
If we’re truly committed to safeguarding places of exceptional natural beauty, surely we will hold Cumberland Island sacrosanct. The opportunity to experience one of America’s most magnificent places must not be lost to this and future generations.
As Americans and Georgians we must reassert our conviction that such revered natural treasures must not be irreversibly degraded in the misguided pursuit of private objectives benefitting a few at the expense of the many.
Cumberland guardians should voice concerns by contacting Camden officials via the clerk’s office, firstname.lastname@example.org .
Watch a powerful video of a loggerhead sea turtle nesting on Cumberland Island National Seashore.
The photo shows where the 88-acre development will be located in relation to Sea Camp dock, where most visitors arrive on Cumberland Island. It will literally be within a stone’s throw of the visitor center. The development property extends all the way across the island to the wild, pristine beach.
Send a quick email to the Camden County Commissioners urging them to deny the variance permit for this proposed subdivision: email@example.com
The island needs you now more than ever. Thanks for your help.
The “no bicycles allowed” sign on the Duckhouse Trail at the beach was recently vandalized — torn off. Bicycles regularly use both Duckhouse and Willow Pond Wilderness Trails. As if mocking the Wilderness, the National Park Service allows campers to bicycle with all their camping gear to Brickhill Campsite, as long as the bikes are left at the road. The strip of road was removed from Wilderness by special interests (Greyfield), and is within sight of the campground.
So many of you have asked what you can do about the Cumberland Island variance appeal. Lumar LLC wishes to divide 87.51 acres 1/4 mile from Sea Camp on Cumberland Island into 10 plots so that they can build a “family compound.”
The best and most effective action you can take is to contact the Camden County Commissioners and express your feelings. Send your email to the County Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will ensure that all Commissioners receive a copy.
NOTICE REGARDING THE CUMBERLAND ISLAND APPEAL
Camden County Planning & Development
The Camden County Board of Commissioners will have a PUBLIC HEARING
DATE: February 7, 2017
TIME: 5:00 pm
LOCATION: Government Services Building located at 200 East 4th Street, Second Floor, Commissioners’ Chambers, Woodbine, GA 31569.
PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA ITEMS:
1) ZV2017-01 Appeal by William R. Bruce (and other signing individuals), of the December 7, 2016 Planning Commission decision to approve Hardship Variance request ZV2016 – 8, to allow up to a 10 lot split minor subdivision, having unpaved road frontage, since there are no paved streets on Cumberland Island. The property is 87.51 acres. Tax Parcel 181 006, Zoned C-P (Conservation Preservation). LUMAR LLC, owner.
2) ZV2017-02 Appeal by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the National Parks Conservation Association and the St. Marys EarthKeepers, of the December 7, 2016 Planning Commission decision to approve Hardship Variance request ZV2016 – 8, to allow up to a 10 lot split minor subdivision, having unpaved road frontage, since there are no paved streets on Cumberland Island. The property is 87.51 acres. Tax Parcel 181 006, Zoned C-P (Conservation Preservation). LUMAR LLC, owner.