News - Theodore I. Jockisch

For attempting a new blight: off-shore sprawl

To be honest, we aren't well acquainted with Atlanta developer Theodore Jockisch. He could actually be a likeable guy with an unfortunate last name. However, he's also spent the last couple of years trying to build McMansions in the salt marshes near Savannah, a move environmentalists believe would open the door to the destruction of some of Georgia's most scenic coastal areas.

A few years ago, Jockisch and other area landowners made competing claims to several acres of marshlands along the Wilmington River. But the state Attorney General's Office determined that the salt marshes were owned by the state.

Conveniently for Jockisch, however, two state legislators from Chatham County slipped through a controversial land-swap resolution in 1998 giving him title to several "hammocks," or small islands, in exchange for the marshland that the AG's office had said wasn't his to begin with.

Then Jockisch applied for a state permit to construct bridges across the salt marsh to link his planned Emerald Pointe subdivision on the mainland with three of the hammocks, which are surrounded by water at high tide. On the largest, he wanted to cram about 40 multi-family homes onto eight acres; on another would go a marina.

Because the state's Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee was instructed to take into account only the potential environmental impact of the bridges, but not the planned houses, it was forced to grant Jockisch the permit.

The Georgia Conservancy, Sierra Club and the Southern Environmental Law Center argued that the decision effectively turns the more than 1,000 hammocks that dot Georgia's coastline into subdivision plots, which could have a devastating effect on the delicate marshland ecology. To fight off their legal challenge, Jockisch had the nerve to hire the very same former assistant AG who'd earlier ruled against his property claim.

The good news is, Jockisch's permit was deep-sixed a few days ago by a Fulton County Superior Court judge who ordered that the overall environmental impact of a planned development should be considered in any proposed marshland project.

We're hoping this ruling kills Jockisch's plan as if it were an embarrassing fungal infection in a sensitive part of the male anatomy.

The Weekly Scalawag is now accepting nominations. E-mail scott.henry@creativeloafing.com??

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