Trouble in Glynn County

Dear Friends of SLEAT:

Having read all 127 pages of the draft of the Glynn County Comprehensive plan so you don’t have to, I’m prepared to give you a precis. However, before I get into that, let me give you an example of how our time (and probably money) is being wasted by public servants whose main purpose seems to be to keep the public in the dark.
April 28 — Glynn County published a notice in our paper of record about an amendment to the zoning ordinance.
May 4 — upon inquiry as to the text of the amendment, staff responded it would be distributed to the planning commissions on May 8 and then published on the web
May 10 — amendment nowhere to be found
May 12 — amendment distributed to planning commission but not available to public.
May 15 — Scheduled to be rubber stamped by Planning Commissions
May 17 — Scheduled to be rubber stamped by Board of Commissioners. For what purpose? To relieve the BOC from having to make decisions about our beaches.

Abandoning responsibility is next to abandoning the land.

As the draft of the not comp plan tells us in response to the project to “Develop a beach access policy and ocean scenic view policy,” “This is a low priority for the County and therefore not included in the future Community Work Program.

On to the comprehensive plan, which should be entitled “Desire Under the Moss–draped Oaks.” It isn’t a plan. What it is is 103 pages of blather and 24 pages of “work,” which, if history is prologue, will continue to remain undone.
Why do I say that?  Because the 2013 iteration of this state-mandated enterprise proposed to accomplish 70 tasks and “completed” 7. There is no reason to expect the 79 projects listed now to fare any better.
It is not reassuring to be told “The County will be creating and annually updating a CIP (Capital Improvement Program) in the next five years.

The consultants envisioning Glynn have helpfully segregated our community into what they call “Character areas” (18 on p. 39) and enumerated the zoning categories present in each. Oddly enough, the category “Public” is only identified in one. But then, there is also only one “scenic corridor” on the spine of St. Simons and Highway 17, the coast road along the marshes of Glynn is totally ignored. One wonders if these people ever got up from their desks and looked away from their computer screens.

One could say this exercise is a good example of taking the intent for the act. The verbiage provides a clue. The document is replete with hortatory expressions such as “encourage,” “celebrate,” “ensure,” “identify” and “secure,” as if it were addressing a community of wimps. That the effort is almost certain to be ignored, as all mandates to the Glynn County Commission  are, is not an excuse for the prevalence of bad grammar, errors in logic and obfuscating verbiage. At some point we have to consider that the obfuscation is intentional. We are to be kept in the dark.

Just as it has become increasingly obvious that “privatization” is largely designed to remove public spending from public review, by contracting both goods and services out, the “professionalization” of administration has now morphed into “consultancy” for the sole purpose of insuring that office holders retain a modicum of power.

For a more professional assessment, here is the professor’s take:
Dear Glynn County Comprehensive Plan Project Team:

Although I appreciate the hard work that has gone into the preparation of this plan, I find that the second draft of the 2018 Glynn County Comprehensive Plan has many obvious problems and errors that can and should be corrected by the Project Team or a professional editor. If these problems and errors are not corrected, I believe the final document will be harder to read, understand, trust, and support.

Among these problems and errors, this draft:

—is far too wordy and repetitious.
—is flawed by non sequiturs, obfuscation, contradictions, gobbledygook, and irrelevancies.
—has uncorrected typos and missing words that are clear signs of carelessness.
—has too many photos, not one of which seems necessary (removing all photos will save about twenty pages).
—is frequently vague and imprecise.
—lacks consistent parallel construction in its bullet points and lists of recommendations (please ask me for examples if you don’t understand what I mean).
—uses unnecessary and distracting high-lighting or shading.
—is too descriptive and not sufficiently prescriptive.
—relies too much on such verbs as “ensure” and “address”.
—has comma errors and other grammatical infelicities.
—is frequently flawed by the wrong word or the wrong preposition.
—is sometimes silly (example on page 8: “how healthy people feel while alive” is referred to as a “Quality of Life” issue).

Most or all of these problems or errors and others can be corrected by a competent editor without changing the substance.

Now please bear with me as I point out just a few specific problems:

—The Table of Contents on page ii indicates the “REPORT OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS” appendix begins on page 105, but that appendix does not begin until page 119 (what begins on page 105 and ends on page 118 is the “Community Work Program” list of action items).
—As the “REPORT OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS” lists many items that are not actually accomplishments and are identified as either “Postponed”, “Underway”, or “Not Accomplished”, I recommend that the appendix be renamed as “STATUS OF PROJECTS”.
—On page 18, there is no indication of how many or, more significantly, how few citizens attended the “Open Houses”. While I don’t blame you for not wanting to admit these “Open Houses” were poorly attended, I encourage you to be honest.
—On page 38, you will find only sixteen of the nineteen “Character Areas” listed; missing from this list are the Jekyll Island, Brunswick, and “South Island” Character Areas shown on the map (Figure 7) on page 39.
—Although the map on page 39 shows an area identified as “South Island”, when we get to pages 58 and 59, the area south of Demere Road and west of Frederica is referred to as the “South Sea Island” character area. (Is this simply a careless mistake, or is it an intentional effort to “rebrand” the area in question as part of Sea Island? For the record, the south portion of Sea Island includes the rapidly eroding area known as the “Spit”—and the Spit is not accurately delineated on the maps in this Plan.)
—On page 71, we are told the “Mid-Island” character area “includes the land north of Demere Road and south of Frederica Rd.”; but the Character Area map shows it where it actually is: on the east and west sides of Frederica Road.
—Why isn’t the Lanier Bridge listed among the “Community Gateways”? (This is another way of asking why are the four exits from I-95 identified as the only “Community Gateways”?)

I will be happy to sit down with a member of the Comprehensive Plan Project Team to review my marked-up copy of the second draft.

In conclusion, let me rephrase the question I asked in the subject line for this message: how, when, and by whom will MY comments and corrections be used in revising this often incomprehensible Comprehensive Plan?

Respectfully submitted,

Julian Smith