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Speedy Justice or Speedy Development.

Tybee council retreats from rezoning plan

Public pressure forces councilmen to rethink change that would have nearly tripled housing density in some areas.

By Greg Bluestein
Savannah Morning News

Succumbing to intense public pressure Thursday night, Tybee Councilman Walter Crawford backed off a plan to rezone a significant portion of the island's residential lots.

The rezoning effort -- which would have reduced lot sizes for some residences from 12,000 square feet to 4,500 square feet -- was tabled on a 5-1 vote. Only Councilman Jack Youmans supported the proposal.

"I know there's a lot of sentiment tonight," Crawford said to a raucous, standing-room only crowd. "I'm going to make a recommendation that we table this issue until we have a public forum and get full and complete input into these proposals."

Before the motion to postpone, island residents voiced concerns about the impact of rezoning, which could have almost tripled the housing density of the areas under review.

"If there is going to be a change like this, we need to be protected," said David Ason.

"The question is what are we going to leave behind -- what is this place going to look like in 30 years?" he asked as the crowd erupted in applause.

Former council member Mallory Pearce agreed.

"Any of these changes would severely impact the infrastructure," he said. "I know some people are interested in making money, but there are a substantial amount of citizens that are more interested in living here. You need maximum political input as to what citizens want."

While many at the meeting felt vindicated after the zoning change was postponed, not all were happy with the outcome.

Longtime resident Susie Cary said she was embarrassed by the way the issue was affecting residents.

"Politics are politics but neighbors are neighbors," she said to the crowd. "Y'all need to get together, because we're making fools of ourselves. This is not Tybee Island. Let's quit all the bickering."

Outside the meeting, Cary, who works in the city police department, said Crawford was harassed at home by phone calls in the middle of the night.

"This is the worst I've seen it ever. It's embarrassing to me to see the way the city has turned out," she said. "We all moved down here because it was a Mayberry town. But now, hell, I don't know what kind of town it is."


Tybee City Council members also clashed over a plan to amend planning commission regulations. The change, approved on a 4-2 vote, eliminates legal advertising requirements for construction prior to planning commission meetings. Prospective builders would still have to advertise projects before the city council meeting. "We're just trying to give the citizens a speedy justice," said Crawford.


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