Wednesday, March 30, 2005


When you implement Impact Fees everyone
involved understands their position.
Everything is spelled out on paper.
Schools, libraries, fire stations, roads,
water and sewage, etc. In the absence
of Impact Fees anything you get from
a developer is by negotiation. Case in point
a City Councilman is negotiating with one
of the developers as we speak. The City
Councilman brags about the concessions
he has been able to extract by the use of his
superior skills. One wonders what was left
on the table for the current residents to pay
for, when the negotiations are over and the
tax bills come in. Just look at other projects
that have been negotiated recently and what
we now know we have to pay for.

Tell the City Councils and the County
Commission "We want Impact Fees, not
negotiations carried on in the darkness
of private negotiations."
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child and family in crisis!!!!
Call The HOPE Program of the Methodist
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information 912-882-7770
Letters to the Editor
J. Writes in reference to Impact Fees
Great info!

In the "f.a.q." section at,
I found the following Q&A:

"Q: Who actually pays the impact fee (incidence)?
A: In the short-term, impact fees may cause a
slight increase in housing costs if the local real
estate market allows the builder to shift the cost
forward to the buyer. However, in the long-term
it is more than likely that the cost will be shifted
backwards to landowners in the form of lower
prices that may be bid for undeveloped land. "
I don't think that the slight increase in housing
costs would really be much of a problem, especially
not for new buyers in new developments, insofar
as real estate prices here will still be much lower
than in locales where most new buyers are coming
from. Locals who are move-up buyers will likely
see an offsetting rise in the resale value of their
existing homes, as well.
However, the phenomenon described in the second
sentence of the answer is another can of worms
altogether. For that very reason, the local hereditary
pine barons will fight the introduction of impact
fees tooth and nail. Their venue of choice will
obviously be the Camden County Commission,
especially as it is now constituted. Votes on adopting
impact fees - or even studying them, for that
matter - would obviously be four-to-one against.
For that and a number of other cogent reasons,
it occurs to me that all four units of government
in Camden County would do well to enact their
own impact fee ordinances.

C. Writes in reference to Impact Fees
I could never understand how developers are
given permits to build and then after they leave
the homeowners scream for sidewalks. The City
then pays and builds the sidewalks with your
and my money. I believe it should all be part of
the site plan approval process.I wasn't aware
that Winding Road was getting sewers. Why in
the world would we put in sewer lines with
almost no customers to hook up and help pay
for it. Again your and my money.
M. Writes in reference to Impact Fees
Seems to me that the city of St Marys should
have advised the developers that the city
follows The Georgia Development Impact Fee
Act (DIFA)And the developer will have to pay
its' fair share of improvements. I wonder if
secret negotiations for new businesses
contained a statement about The Georgia
Development Impact Fee Act (DIFA). I guess
that is a question that should have be asked
to Mr. Rainer. I'm getting the impression
that the bosses know more about the operations
than they want us to know. Also, the vote in
St. Marys was pathetic. Only less than 600
people care about who is elected.

Sandy Sez:
Seems like some peolple are beginning to get it.
(Impact Fees) and some will get it later in the
form of increased assessments and bigger taxes.
Remember if the tax bill you get from the Tax
Commissioner is higher than the year before
you got a tax increase. Don't be fooled by
double talk.
As always we want to hear from you. Email
us at

Sandy Feller

Monday, March 21, 2005


County growth should be paid for by those
who profit from it. The local taxpayers
should not be bearing the burden of new
roads, fire stations, schools, etc. The state of
Georgia passed a law titled Development
Impact Fee Act of 1990.

It is my belief that when implemented the
taxpayers will be the big winners!!!!!!
To fully understand Impact Fees please
read the following, which you will find
on the internet.

After you have read the information I believe
you will agree with me that the developers
should pay, not us.

What do you think? Email us at
WAKE UP CAMDEN COUNTY "it's your money."

Sandy Feller

P.S. Thanks to Mr. Tact for his invaluable input.

***********IMPORTANT MESSAGE************
When I use the phrase "Express Scripts" I am
using it for reference purposes only.

Express Scripts is a fine company trying to make
a living like everybody else. If criticism is
appropriate (and I think it is) it should be
addressed to the County Commissioners and
City Council of St. Marys who gave away too much
to benefit a certain few at our expense when they
made the deal to bring the company here.

M. Writes reference Durango: Although the
reopening of the mill will more than likely decrease
my property value, I believe the additional good
paying jobs and the increased tax base would be
good for Camden County. However, I must qualify
my previous statement with the following; for the
good of the community whoever purchases that
land should be required to clean it up and ensure
that it meets the EPA standards before operating
any business.
D. Writes reference Durango: Has the EPA done
or performed any pollution checks on the Gilman
Paper Mill Property? Also, the old land fill site
across the road from the St. Marys Airport?
J. Writes about us and the County Commission:
Sandy, Congratulations and a "well done" for
establishing this forum and soliciting the thoughts
and concerns of the residents.
In as much as your fellow commissioners voted
against an additional public forum session at
county meetings, this blog gives us a place to
share our views and concerns.
While I do not always agree with your positions,
I must give you an "atta boy" for establishing and
monitoring this site.
Perhaps some day the others on the County
Commission will actually care about what the
residents think. Keep up the good fight!
N. Writes reference Durango, etc:
Why did the County re-evaluate the homes last
year? Did you know that my taxes went up
almost double? Are they trying to get the
"little guy" to move so they can get more of the
"Cumberland Harbour" type folk here?
(Just like in NY) Don't they realize that when
taxes are low more people want to move here?
What about Businesses moving here? Any word
on that? As for Durango I have a friend that
worked there for years (she is a native Camden
County resident) and she told me that it's not
contaminated. What's the truth? I would much
rather see a business move in there then more
homes. Seems like they are building more and
more housing then anything! We're becoming
a suburb of Jacksonville it seems.
Mr. Tact writes reference Durango, etc:
It appears to me that the future course will be
laid in by inexorable economics, not legislation.
It's probably way too late to steer away from the
mostly unseen dangers that came with a civic
policy of sailing blindly, at top speed, towards
"discovery" by the broader world of one group's
"tourists," another's "damned outsiders."
One of my most memorable moments in
local politics was the night, a few years ago,
when "controlling future growth" was the hot
topic of discussion at a St. Marys City Council
meeting. At one point, then-Mayor Jerry Brandon,
in a rare moment of dark transparency, opined
that with regards to "newcomers," he wished that
they would all "just come, leave their money, and
go home!"
Well, they did come, in hordes - thanks,
ironically, to the promotional efforts of the
Brandon administration - and they did go
home. However, before they even got back north
of the Mason-Dixon line, many had already
resolved to sell their highly-appreciated and
highly-taxed homesteads in the snowy North in
favor of relatively bargain-basement-priced real
estate and lower taxes in sunny, southern
Camden County, GA.
That snowball of economic migration has just
barely started rolling downhill. Once Cumberland
Harbour gets about half built-out, the Durango
property is dedicated to an upscale, waterfront
development, and the current St. Marys airport
property becomes a mixed use development with
upscale homes, condos, and hoity-toity, artsy-fartsy
boutiques and bistros, then will come the
gentrification avalanche which I suspect will virtually
wipe out "quaint, historic, downtown St. Marys" as we
know it by no later than 2025.
While local politicians ignore looming economic
realities and prattle on about protective bulkheads
of unsinkable ordinances, it occurs to me that
current residents of "downtown" might be well
advised to keep a good realtor and a high, dry,
and reasonable lot, somewhere west of I-95,
readily available.
N. Writes reference Corporate Welfare:
Boy nice to see Winding Road is getting sewers!
Would be nice if we were! Especially since our
neighborhood was forcibly annexed!! Also since
we were suppose to have sewers within 18
months of being annexed!!
S. Writes reference Durango:
As I understood, they could have waited to see if
they could get more money but it would take
several years. That meant that for several years
the property could not be sold. So, they took it in
the shorts early in hope of a sale. Now the
S. Writes reference Corporate Welfare:
The 2 million was back taxes that we lost
because of bankruptcy, the 5 million is a free
gift so that somebody will buy the property.
Re: free loan or grant the answer is simple,
if you know the right people you get, if you're like
me, you don't get nothing. That's the name of
the tune!
D. Writes reference Durango:
I believe the best thing for the community would
be to re-open. We need good paying jobs. If you
do not like it MOVE!
Sandy, Sez:
Well you've heard what your neighbors have to
say. What do you think? As always contact us
at with you comments and concerns.
Sandy Feller

Friday, March 18, 2005


Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center

Regional Planning

The Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center (CGRDC)
conducts planning for the 10-county region including fulfilling
responsibilities under the Georgia Planning Act enacted by
the State legislature in 1998. This includes:

  • Preparation and update of the regional plan

  • Local plan review

  • Review of developments of regional impact

Regional Plan. The Coastal Georgia Regional Plan was
developed with the assistance of the Regional Plan
Advisory Council. The Regional Plan identifies
objectives and strategies for the appropriate,
coordinated development of the region.
Each year, the Work Program is updated and submitted
for approval to the Georgia Department of Community
Affairs (DCA). The Regional Agenda and Technical Staff
Report (TSR) were recently updated to include 2000 Census
Data and other new information. The FY200S Work Program,
TSR and Regional Agenda updates were adoptee by the CGRDC
Board in November 2004.

Developments of Regional Impact (DRI). Developments
of Regiomal, Impact (DRI) are projects of sufficient scale
that they are likely to have interjurisdictional impacts.
The Georgia Planning Act requires that local
governments submit details of a proposed DRI to their
Regional Development Center for intergovernmental
review before taking any action to further the project.
"Action" includes rezoning, zoning variance, permit,
hookup to a water or sewer system, subdivision or site
plan approval, or entering into a contract.

The DRI review process is designed to proceed quickly
in order to minimize project delays. During the 30-day
DRI review, CGRDC staff solicitis comments from
potentially affected government agencies as well as
adjacent governments. Comments are forwarded to
the applicant government, and can be used for local
decision-making. DRI submittals in coastal Georgia
since July 1, 2004 are listed in Table 1.

During the review, local government staff may
undertake preliminary administrative functions
such as project evaluation/assessment, site visits,
and placing consideration of these items on a future
agenda for formal action. However, local governments
re precluded from taking any official action related to
the project until the DRI review process is completed
and the local government has had adequate time to
consider the DRI review comments.

Local Plan Review. Each city and county in coastal
Georgia must develop a Comprehensive Plan and
Solid Waste Plan on a ten-year cycle in accordance with,
state law. Every five years, the implementation program
of each plan must be updated. This Short Term Work
Program (STWP) update involves reviewing the
previous five-year plan, developimg a Report of
Accomplishments and a new fiive-year STWP.
Successful completion of the STWP and Plan update
processes results in extension of a jurisdiction's
Qualified Local Government (QLG) status. The QLG is
linked to eligibility for state grants, loans and permits.

Coastal Georgia RDC staff assists in the development
of plans and STWPs and review these documents for
completeness and compliance with data requirernents
and consistency with the Regional Plan.

******************BREAKING NEWS*************
Re: Election in St. Marys

Information has come to us that Judge Gillette has
requested a Re-Vote!!!! And that City Attorney Terry
Floyd has the issue and todays swearing in has been

Stay tuned for further information.

This has been a CAMDEN GA NEWS EXCLUSIVE.....

The best kept secret is out. St. Marys and Cumberland
Island have been discovered as a Global Travel
Destination. In 2004 the HGTV Dream Home was
built in St. Marys. 20,000 visitors came to see the
Dream Home and discovered St. Marys as a
retirement paradise. In 2004 St. Marys was named
the American Dream Town of Georgia and was also
chosen as one of “The 50 Best Southern Towns”
because St. Marys offers a gentle pace, quality of
life and an affordable cost of living.

In 2005, Orange Hall House Museum, a wonderful
example of Greek Revival Architecture, was selected
for the cover of Georgia On My Mind. The Travel
Channel chose Cumberland Island as one of the
“Ten Best Beaches in America” and the number one
best “Wilderness Beach in America”. The
Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee 39
sanctioned our Mardi Gras Celebration as a Super
Bowl Event. This brought an estimated 30-40,000
people to St. Marys. This was the largest event that
Camden County has ever hosted. Mardi Gras
brought a huge increase of revenues to local
businesses in Camden County.

The accolades previously mentioned brought
many media opportunities to St. Marys and
Camden County. Recently, some of the media
exposure St. Marys has enjoyed are the
Washington Post, Hilton Head Packet, The
Florida Times Union, Tribune & Georgian,
Southern Living (article will be featured in
the May issue), Fox News, First Coast News,
The Travel Channel, BBC, PBS, HGTV and
many others.

Historic St. Marys and Cumberland Island
will not be the best kept secret anymore.
The charm and ambience, waterways, gentle
pleasures of stepping back in time, and our
friendliness and hospitality will bring visitors
back time after time to enjoy us for a little
while or in many instances make their home
in St. Marys.

Contact information:
St. Marys Convention & Visitors Bureau
Janet Brinko, Director
406 Osborne Street
St. Marys, Georgia 31558
Future growth of Camden County urgently requires the
implementation of a master plan which lays out in an
orderly fashion what we wish the community to look like
in the near and distant future. As always we invite your
comments please email us at

To view past postings please access the archives in the
lower right of this communication.

Sandy Feller

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

CORPORATE WELFARE (you gotta love it)

1. Winding Road Paving (South of Colerain)

$500,000.00 Paid by taxpayers instead of developers

2. Express Scripts

$600,000.00 Free Loan (County)
$1,000,000.00 Grant (Georgia)
$1,750.00 per job tax credit

(County and St. Marys)

3. Winding Road Water and Sewer Lines etc.

(North of Colerain) (Amount not known at this time)

4. Durango

$2,200,000.00 "all taxes forgiven"
(County and St. Marys)

$5,000,000.00 (approximate)
future taxes forgiven till 2010
(County and St. Marys)

We do these things for the wheelers and dealers. We pick up the tax tab so they can prosper. Then when real estate values go up, who do you think gets the tax increase? You guessed it, we do. One would think that there is an organized plot to get rid of people with moderate or fixed incomes.

What do you think? We will print your letters in this space. Email us at
Wake up Camden County, your next.

Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent for a child and family in crisis!
Call THE HOPE PROGRAM of The Methodist Home for Children and Youth for more information (912) 882-7770

HB 218
Congratulations to the Camden Tribune and Georgian Management and editorial staff for their strong editorial position against HB 218, the "We do our best work in the dark out of the public eye" economic development bill.
Kudos also to State Senator Jeff Chapman for his equally strong stand on the bill. Thumbs down to State Representative Cecily Hill for not working in the publics best interest. One Express Scripts "give away deal" is one too many. There is nothing wrong with incentives to bring industry here. However, the public must see a benefit as well. One way deals are just no good!
Your comments pro or con on this issue or other issues is appreciated. Address them to
Sandy Feller

Thursday, March 10, 2005


M.K. Writes:
The plant is not a superfund sight and if facts are used to develop a position, it might be better for the community understanding. We have none of the major issues surrounding manufacturing plants associated with heavy metals. We are not in a valley or low point where all the "contaminants" settled or concentrated. If you want something constructive to be done by government, then have someone trained in this type of engineering problem to come in and "educate" officials about the issues instead of working from assumed knowledge.

M. Writes:
You know the answer. SUPERFUND. You also know that something slick is in the mill.... Ha Ha, get it? By the way I would register but there is no way to do an anonymous that I know of. I don't think International can because the licenses involved are probably no longer transferable. That should also tell us something.

T. & N. N Writes:
International Paper Company wants to buy Durango Property, I would much rather see another Paper Company (or ANY business) open there then get another development! When are enough houses enough? We (behind Sonic that were annexed against our wishes) STILL don't have a sewer system but I see "new" developments sure as heck do! Our taxes here have just about doubled but the services remain the same. It's getting to be another New York! Cater to the rich forget the middle class.

D.B. Writes:
I worked at the mill for 12 years and I began as a sample runner who went all over the mill collecting samples. There are those who worked at the mill who will disagree with me but I contend the mill is not nearly as dirty as everyone else thinks.

A lot of the pollution the public received from the mill was through the air. That stopped when the mill stopped. The mill covers several hundred acres but actually there are only a very few spots that were ever subjected to pollution. Not much different than when a farmer has a chemical spill on a spot on his land and that spot fails to produce a crop for about 20 years. The mill has a few spots like that that can be easily dealt with. Some of those would just require mixing good soil with to dilute. The material from the ponds in the back of the mill was spread on cleared timberland as fertilizer. How polluted is that???

The challenge of cleaning up the mill is getting rid of all the steel/brick buildings out there and a very simple solution for that is to cut the steel beans and brick, put them on a barge, and dump them in the Atlantic Ocean to establish new reefs. That would be economical and beneficial. Their may be a few pollution spots at the mill are underneath the paper machines but they could be managed easily after the building were removed. I do think the buildings should be removed and not left there as an eye sore like has been done in up North.

What about pollution at the lime kiln. Figure this, how pollutant can lime be when it is used by farmers and gardeners in their field every year? There are a few, about a bedroom size, acid spills, but they are very few. I don't know about one pond that held black liquor in the back of the mill. My point is all this talk about pollution at the mill is way overblown. Smart people know that, the public as a whole does not.

Well we all have an opinion. Should the site be a mill again or exclusive housing for wealthy mostly retired Americans?

The mill closed because of competition from cheaper Chinese imports. Frankly, it had nothing to do with the perceived high salaries of employees and not much to do with dangerous working conditions. The Federal government decided not to protect the mills market from cheap imports and since this was the type of paper mill produced, it closed. Look around and you will see many other paper mills still in operation, surviving, and in markets that are generally recovering from the past economic slump. Personally, I think Mexicans foolishly destroy one of the very best paper mill management teams in the nation but be that as it may. Reduction in salary would not have saved this mill at all.

I think the condition of the facilities of the mill warrant that it should not re-open as a paper mill. Many areas were becoming inoperable and unmanageable. As a community we have moved on beyond the idea of reopening it as a mill. Most of us have found other jobs, many of us happy not to be working graveyard shifts. I understand the Mexicans bought the mill for $120 million and sold immediately $40 million in paper inventory. I always felt that letting the Mexicans buy the mill was a way for Howard Gilman Estate to escape environmental cleanup expenses. It doesn't matter now. It is all history.

It is an international trend for populations to move toward coastal regions. That is going on big time now in the southeast and it will continue. St. Marys is among the last to get on board but the trend is a wave that can not be stopped. I predict the mill property will go to residential and commercial development.
Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent for a child and family in crisis!!!
Call The HOPE Program of The Methodist Home for Children and Youth for more information (912) 882-7770.
We don't have to listen to the lawyers for the unsecured creditors.
We need to decide what's best for us.
If International Paper buys will it clean up the site?
Will International Paper put in new equipment that will help the environment?
We need jobs, good jobs, will we get them?
Camden County taxes come from 85% residential, 15% business. A good ratio is 50 - 50.
We need open government discussing this not another back room deal. KEEP TUNED
Due to unanticipated high volume we have contracted with Yahoo for distribution. PLEASE CONTACT for your free subscription. For all other purposes contact us at
Sandy Feller

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

International Paper Company wants to buy Durango Property


Several years ago Durango Georgia Paper Company (formerly known as Gilman Paper Company) declared bankruptcy. Leaving behind 750 acres variously described as a "Superfund Site" as a living breathing pile of incredibly contaminated property.

Since then the City of St. Marys and Camden County have lost several million dollars in the bankruptcy and perhaps $5,000,000.00 more in tax abatements. That's right the City Council and the County Commission voted to waive taxes till 2010.

Now, there is a sign in front of the property announcing that it is for sale. My question is what about pollution ????????????

No one is saying a WORD................

So, State Senator Jeff Chapman and Congressman Jack Kingston my question to you is: What is being done to protect the Public from this property being developed with a "quick shave and a hair cut cleanup."

**************JUST RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING INFO******************
International Paper Company wants to buy the property and re-open as a Paper Company. Rumor has it that the St. Marys City Council is divided. Some wanting to go with International Paper re-opening to provide jobs for the community, others wanting to sell to a Real Estate Developer that has been courting several locals on his yacht.

My fellow citizens what do you think? Email us at
Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent for a child and family in crisis!!!!!!
Call The HOPE Program of The Methodist Home for Children and Youth for more information (912) 882-7770
Quality Growth in Woodbine
Monday night the City voted unanimously to hire a consultant to draw up a new master plan. In a period of rapid growth this will ensure that the growth is orderly and speaks to the needs of the community now and in the future.
My hat off to the Mayor, City Council and the Manager. Thanks for putting the needs of the public first.
If you have an announcement for your organization email us at
If you have something on your chest, email us at We will print it with or without your name. But your name must be included in the original correspondence.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A New Source for News and Political Discourse

There is a new source for news and political discourse in Camden County. "CAMDEN GA NEWS." Coming soon this publication will bring you a new approach in news coverage. We do not seek to displace the fine publications already in place. Instead "We will go where they will not or cannot." You will be invited to agree, disagree or go in another direction by sending us your views. To automatically receive our free publication email us at

Just say "I want CAMDEN GA NEWS."

Thank You,

Sandy Feller
Editor & Publisher