The Islands Planning Commission deadlocked for a second time on approving a preliminary plat for the Sinclair Tract which calls for 245 single-family residential lots on roughly 128 acres of land on St. Simons Island.
As it was in the last IPC meeting, one member was absent. The discussion started a little after 9:30 p.m. and ran until around 11 p.m., ending with a 3-3 vote, which means the commission took no action.
Commissioners Carla Cate, Ed Meadows and Odessa Rooks voted against the plat while Chairman Desiree Watson, Patrick Duncan and Joel Willis voted in favor of the plat. Stan Humphries was absent.
According to Watson, some of the concerns raised related to the conservation easement over half of the property, trees, traffic and cultural features. She also said questions were raised about asking for approval when it appeared a developer would not be able to build what was presented on the plat.
“There were a lot of very good questions that were raised about what that proposal is, and I’m interested in getting more information and clarification about how it meets county ordinances,” Meadows said of the meeting that ended after press time on Tuesday.
Nearly half of the property is under a conservation easement that was given to the Atlantic Coast Conservancy. According to the documents establishing the easement, only two houses can be built on a 60 acre portion of the 128 acres. A letter from Five Rivers Conservancy, however, states that Atlantic Coast supports the plat, which shows more than 100 lots planned for the easement.
Cate asked about the cultural features on the property, most notably a nearly 200 year old cemetery plot and tabby ruins. They were marked on the plat, but residential lots were still laid over top of them.
According to Watson the representative of the applicant, Ocie Vest, said the Georgia Department of Natural Resources would make a decision on that.
Commissioners also pointed out that, even if they did approve the plat, the northern half of the property was under a conservation easement and only 100 lots could be built on in the southern half due to restrictions in the planned development text, Meadows said of the meeting.
Ocie Vest pointed out that establishing plat even though a conservation easement is present is common practice to establish better value for the land, Watson said.
Some members of the commission were also uncomfortable making decisions on applications for which no water and sewer is available until after a joint committee meeting with the Mainland Planning Commission and Brunswick Glynn Joint Water and Sewer Commission.
The commission voted to allow public comment on the plat. A number people from Frederica Township spoke, some people were concerned because the lots would be exempt from the tree ordinance.
Watson said she felt like the applicant answered the commission’s questions satisfactorily, but the vote was tied all the same.
Not much in the way of guidance was given to the applicant, but commissioners did ask for more clarification on concerns raised at the meeting.
Watson said the Sinclair Tract will be discussed at the next IPC meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 16 in St. William Catholic Church, 2300 Frederica Rd. on St. Simons Island.