On April 2, 2019, Georgia lawmakers passed sweeping changes to the Shore Protection Act. If signed by the governor, as expected, HB 445 will create a 25-foot regulated buffer zone between beachfront real estate and the landward side of a sand dune, or measured from the high tide line where no sand dunes exist.
The bill would redefine the state’s jurisdiction that was previously established by a confusing system of drawing lines connecting 20′ native trees and shorefront buildings erected on or before 1979. In addition to standardizing the protected zone, the bill should also make it easier for existing homeowners to build “minor” projects and make low impact improvements. Landscaping, patios, and dune crossovers, under the new legislation, would forego the previously required public review process, and seek direct approval from the Department of Natural Resources Commissioner.
Omitted from the final bill was a provision excluding Sea Island, where developers have planned to build a series of luxury homes on the Sea Island strip known locally as the Spit. If the bill is ultimately signed by the Governor, the entire development on the storm and erosion prone Spit would be called into serious question, and the limits on future possible expansions created by the bill, should make existing deeded and zoned properties even more appealing to both current and future generations of investors.
The long and the short of this new law is, if you have ever had a desire to pursue owning one of these coveted properties, the time to move on one is right now. Similarly, if you are fortunate enough to already own a small piece of Georgia island real estate, and are considering selling in the near future, make sure to speak with agents who are knowledgeable about the specifics of the area or you may be missing the mark on making the most out of this potentially newly created seller’s market.
To schedule a meeting to discuss the potential value of your family’s holdings on the island, contact us at DeLoach today.