Cumberland Island's Private Landowners Make Rezoning Request Amid Public Opposition

May 25, 2017

A ferry is the only way to reach the Cumberland Island National Seashore.
Credit Cumberland Island National Seashore / National Park Service

A new poll finds most Camden County residents don’t want more houses built on Georgia’s Cumberland Island National Seashore.

The public opinion poll by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research was commissioned by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

More than 70 percent of respondents said they oppose a rezoning request by the few private landowners on the federally-protected barrier island.

Many cited concerns the county’s approval would open the door to more development, which would have a negative impact on both the environment and the local economy.

Jamie Ferguson belongs to the extended Carnegie family, which has owned land on Cumberland Island for generations. He said his family is looking for some balance between their responsibilities and their rights.

“None of the private land owners are developers. None of them plan to build a large number of houses, sell any property or subdivide," he said. "What we’re simply trying to do is maintain our property rights and a reasonable use of our land going forward.”

Former St. Mary’s City Councilman Sam Colville is opposed to the rezoning request.

“If this property is rezoned as they request, there will be nothing to stop the development of their properties either by them or by a developer to whom they could sell," he said, "and that’s what our concern is.”

The Cumberland Island National Seashore is famous for its undeveloped beaches, salt marshes and wild horses. It’s managed by the National Park Service and is accessible only by ferry.

Camden County officials have asked all parties to reach a compromise on the rezoning request by June 1.

Cyd Hoskinson can be reached at choskinson@wjct.org, 904-358-6351 and on Twitter @cydwjctnews