The sand is quickly dropping through the proverbial hourglass on House Bill 271, and at present it is not scheduled to receive a vote this week.
Wednesday, the state Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee took up the legislation for a hearing only. That hearing lasted fewer than 15 minutes before the committee adjourned for the day.
State Department of Natural Resources staff worked with coastal legislators on the bill, which is meant to clarify jurisdictional boundary lines for the Shore Protection Act, which was passed 39 years ago to preserve the sand-sharing system of the Georgia coast.
Before it cleared the House of Representatives with a 174-0 vote March 3, a floor amendment gave a slight tweak when it comes to public property. The boundary line, according to the bill, lies, “25 feet landward of the landward toe of the most landward sand dunes, or 25 feet landward of the crest of a visible and functional structure associated with a shoreline stabilization activity, or (i)n the absence of any such sand dunes or structure, 100 feet from the ordinary high-water mark.”
By definition, parts of Sea Island would be regulated differently than parts of Jekyll Island, which did not help the opposition to the bill among environmental groups that already did not like it as it was introduced earlier this year.
For instance, David Kyler of the Center for a Sustainable Coast maintains there is geological evidence a jurisdictional area of 100 feet — at a minimum — is needed from the most landward feature, whether it be a dune, a wall, rocks or the high-water mark, without differentiation between public and private property.
Also, following the bill’s passage in the House, Megan Desrosiers of One Hundred Miles wrote in a legislative update, “Unfortunately, the proposed change would potentially endanger future beachfront structures, impair wildlife habitat, restrict access to public beaches and compromise the sand-sharing system.”
Her organization is seeking to eliminate the differentiation between public and private property, and the 100-foot jurisdiction line from the high-water mark applied to both.
The General Assembly is slated to close out the 2017 session by the end of the month.