One Hundred Miles and City Residents File Suit to Defend Glynn Avenue Design Framework

For Immediate Release: June 23, 2023

BRUNSWICK, GA—One Hundred Miles and seven residents of Marshview Condominiums filed suit today in an attempt to require developer Vassa Cate and Maritime Homes to comply with adopted city codes and the Glynn Avenue Design Framework on a 30-acre planned development along Highway 17.  

The Glynn Avenue Design Framework was passed in 2018 after more than two years of public meetings and conversations about the redevelopment potential of Highway 17. The purpose of the Framework is to provide a beautiful gateway to the Golden Isles and uphold the potential for publicly accessible waterfront within the City of Brunswick. One Hundred Miles is a property owner in the area covered by the Framework, and the seven resident plaintiffs are neighboring property owners to Mr. Cate’s proposed development. The plaintiffs support the Framework because it reflects the hard work and vision of many residents, professionals, and elected officials who love Brunswick and want to see it thrive.  

Alice Keyes, VP of Coastal Conservation with One Hundred Miles, says, “While not perfect, the Framework paints a clear picture of our community’s vision for the future and our hopes for this marshfront stretch of highway. Legal action is not a step we take lightly. But we are proud to stand with our community members to ensure everyone plays by the rules designed to protect our resources and our people.” 

In July 2022, Maritime Homes petitioned the City of Brunswick for annexation and rezoning of a portion of the planned development. City Commissioners approved the petition on October 5, 2022, with a unique set of conditions that differ from the requirements of the zoning ordinance. According to the ordinance, Maritime Homes was required to submit a master plan and a written report detailing specifics about the development, including information about density, open space, and other details important for protecting public resources and the property rights of neighboring property owners.  

The lawsuit alleges that the developer’s application fell short of many of these important details resulting in a density allowance that exceeds the code. The lawsuit also alleges that the unique approval process violated the law because the City used it to allow the developer to bypass a mandatory variance approval that can only be granted by the Brunswick Planning and Appeals Commission (PAC). In April, the PAC voted to recommend the City Commission deny the site plan approval because it was not cohesive and did not conform to the adopted ordinance.  

“From what I’ve seen, the developer has shown no interest in complying with rules that apply to every development,” says co-plaintiff and Marshside resident Kathleen Magbee. “He has no interest in working with the community or in upholding the principles of the Glynn Avenue Design Framework.” 

“I reached out to Mr. Cate at least four times,” says Les Klinefelter, co-plaintiff. “I even asked for meetings during my three minutes at the public hearings. We wanted to find ways our two neighborhoods could work together so the area can be developed to benefit everyone. To this day, I have not had one call back.” 

The lawsuit also alleges that the violations of the city’s ordinances and Glynn Avenue Design Framework continued throughout the approval process. Some of the most concerning violations relate to density, parking, and maintaining public access to the marsh. 

“I’m happy the developer demolished the old hotel on the property, but he clearcut all the trees to put in too many apartments, crammed into too little space around a parking lot that is too small. Now I look out at an eight-foot-tall fence that is literally six inches away from my patio,” says Helen Stapleton, a 20-year Marshview resident and co-plaintiff.

The plaintiffs are asking for a judge to issue a temporary injunction to stop work on the project until the issues can be resolved and a judgment that the City Commission’s actions to approve the site plan failed to comply with applicable ordinances. 

Co-plaintiff Mary McFadden says, “We all want redevelopment of this area, but only if it complies with the Glynn Avenue Design Framework. We have raised our concerns time and again, but our comments have fallen on deaf ears.”