EAST END — Four months after hosting a public meeting, Department of Planning and Natural Resources officials pledged to issue a determination on East Bay Beach Club’s Group Dwelling Permit application this week.
The proposed East End development drew strong criticism at a March 11 Group Dwelling Permit public hearing with residents questioning the project’s size and environmental impacts.
Plans at the time called for constructing a 28-unit beach club consisting of 16 three-bedroom and 12 four-bedroom units spread among one and two-story structures, a clubhouse and pool on the remote and largely undeveloped East End of St. John.
The eight-acre property is zoned R-1 (residential-1), which allows for the construction of two units per each half-acre, and developers requested a Group Dwelling Permit in order to cluster those 28 units on one portion of the land.
The development plans DPNR officials pledged to rule on this week look much different than the plans which were discussed at the March 11 public hearing, explained DPNR’s Division of Comprehensive and Coast Zone Planning Director T. Stuart Smith.
While Smith has been meeting with East Bay Holding Company owner Mark Davies since March, the latest development site plan will be the final one, he explained.
“We have been working with the applicant since the hearing to develop a site plan that is more aligned with the intent and provisions of the Group Dwelling Process,” said Smith. “Since that time there have been several iterations. The one that hit my desk yesterday is the final one that we will be reviewing.”
“It will either be accepted or denied, but there will not be any more revisions as far as the GDP process is concerned,” said the CCZP Director.
The GDP determination process took much longer than the anticipated 30 days due to DPNR officials working with Davies to create a document that could be considered, Smith explained.
“What this came down to was, ‘if you want the report in 30 days, it will be a denial; if you will work with us and make some changes it will take longer,’” said Smith.
New Plan Is Scaled-down Version of Original
The new plan — which will be available on St. John once DPNR’s GDP determination is issued by Commissioner Alicia Barnes — is a scaled down version of what residents opposed at the March 11 public hearing, according to Smith.
“It is along the same lines, but it is a far reduction of what was shown at the meeting,” Smith said about the new East Bay Beach Club site plan.
There will not be a new pubic hearing on the revamped East Bay Beach Club plan because — although Smith said the development was scaled back in its latest form — the changes didn’t alter the project’s footprint, according to the CCZP Director.
“There will be no new meeting because the plan does not represent any significant changes as far as footprint,” said Smith. “The changes were administrative and do not require a public hearing. In concept, the design of the buildings haven’t changed.”
“It’s much smaller,’ he said. “The location and the number of the buildings have changed, but everything else is pretty much the same.”
Smith received the final East Bay Beach Club plan to review on Wednesday, July 9, and pledged to have a decision made official by this week.
If DPNR denies the GDP request, the developers will have to return to the drawing board. If the department approves East Bay Holding Company’s GDP request, the project will progress through DPNR’s Coastal Zone Management process.
“If it’s denied, they are stopped; they can’t continue,” said Smith. “If it is approved it goes to the applicant and they can complete their CZM process. That process has already begun but has been on hold until the project completes the GDP process.”
The CZM process includes pubic hearings where residents will have another opportunity to share their opinions on the project with DPNR officials, Smith added.
The proposed development site, Parcel No. Remainder 6A-1 Estate Hansen Bay, is located past Privateer Bay close to the far end of the East End of St. John.