Cunningham called attention to the ecological and cultural significance of Bay Point Island, writing, "As one of only a handful of undeveloped barrier islands in
Cunningham also pointed out the negative impacts this development could have on the Gullah/Geechee communities on neighboring
A copy of this letter is below:
I am writing to express my concerns regarding the luxury resort proposed for development on Bay Point Island as an "ecotourism" venture. I urge you to critically consider several problematic implications and detrimental impacts this project presents.
Bay Point Island is a small, low-lying, erosional, barrier island subjected to the persistent forces of the
Developing a large-scale resort, and introducing extensive permanent infrastructure where none currently exists, will compromise each of the valuable benefits the island naturally provides. At over 66,000 square feet of proposed building space, including 50 bungalows, 4 spas, 3 restaurants, a retail center, a cooking school, and more, the proposed resort will potentially require ten septic fields (though the developers have recently informed my staff they would prefer packaged wastewater plants), more than 22,000 square feet of solar fields, and 100,000 gallons of fresh water to operate daily. I am concerned that the construction alone, not to mention the ongoing maintenance of the resort, poses a high likelihood of causing irreparable damage the island. And, when the infrastructure is ultimately threatened by rising seas and volatile storms and hurricanes, the financial burden of cleaning, repairing, and protecting a private investment and providing evacuation and emergency services will inevitably fall to the taxpayers of
Bay Point and its surrounding tidal marshes and inlets are a designated "Important
The introduction of utilities on an undeveloped barrier island presents its own set of environmental consequences. Septic tanks utilize freshwater bacteria to operate. Exposure to saltwater, an inevitable consequence of being situated at a tidally-impacted low elevation, will render these systems inoperable, leading to contamination of the island's sandy soils and surrounding marshes. The health of the island's ecosystems, the marsh's fisheries, and visitors to the island could be put at risk. While septic tanks will impair surface water quality, the proposed well that will serve a portion of the development's estimated 100,000-gallon daily water needs will threaten groundwater resources by tapping into an aquifer already facing saltwater intrusion impacts. What's more, there's no guarantee on behalf of the developers that the aquifer will have the capacity to service the needs of the resort. Regardless, if developed as planned, the resort could impose sudden and toxic run-off into the near pristine marshes of Bay Point, detrimentally impacting fish, mollusk, and crustacean populations. The plan to provide utilities to the luxury resort is, at best, inadequate, and, at worst, an environmental catastrophe waiting to happen.
Also of concern is the fact that the proposal fails to consider impacts to the surrounding communities of the island, both military and cultural resources. Bay Point is situated just downriver from the military base at
Finally, and importantly, are impacts to the immediately adjacent Gullah/Geechee communities on neighboring
For these reasons, I am asking you to uphold