Governor deJongh Approves Grande Bay and Post Office Rezonings on St. John

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The governor’s signature last week cleared the last hurdle in the long rezoning journey for Grande Bay, above.

Two more St. John properties have been forever changed thanks to Governor John deJongh’s April 7 approval of rezoning requests for Bay Isle Associates and the Boynes family.

A request by Bay Isle Associates, developer of the Cruz Bay luxury condominium project Grande Bay, to rezone its 0.26-acre lot, 3Abc, from W-1 to R-4 was narrowly approved in March by the V.I. Legislature.

The developer sought the rezoning to allow proposed changes to Grande Bay’s building E, which is currently built an empty shell.

Bay Isle initially hoped the building would contain two dwelling units, as allowed under W-1; however, due to financial constraints, the developer now plans to construct six condos in building E — three two-bedrooms units and three one-bedrooms units.

Bay Isle’s request for a variance for the construction of an on-site sundry shop was also approved by the Legislature and the governor.

DeJongh said he carefully considered all comments from both those in support of, and those against the rezoning, as well as Grande Bay’s long history – a several years-long construction phase, and a change of management – when making his decision.

“It may be that if this project commenced today, it would not be approved, but we cannot ignore that it is very much a reality, and its completion is the best outcome,” said deJongh.

Neighboring property owner Liza Trey, who is suing Bay Isle for alleged zoning violations at the Grande Bay development, was stunned to learn that Bay Isle’s rezoning request had been finalized.

“I will see Bay Isles et al in court sooner than later,” said Trey. “It’s amazing that in a free world, a government does not protect one’s property rights. This is one of the reasons my parents came to the U.S.”

Senator Craig Barshinger, who spoke out against the rezoning at Bay Isles’ March 4 hearing before the V.I. Legislature, was also unhappy with the governor’s approval of the rezoning bill.

“I think that the rezoning was ill-advised, because the density of the site will be increased,” said Barshinger. “The exterior dimensions of the building may not increase, but the already fragile, already strained infrastructure of sewage and roads in Cruz Bay will now have to accommodate a higher density in those units. With luxury units, people who stay there usually weigh more heavily on our services; they use more water and more sewage, so I’m concerned about that.”

Barshinger asked Bay Isles at the March 4 hearing to consider using the currently empty building E as a yoga studio, or to provide more amenities for resort guests; however, Bay Isles representatives acknowledged the additional condo units were needed for financial reasons.

“You don’t have to cram paying guests into every little nook and cranny,” said Barshinger. “But it’s all about money.”

Bay Isles co-manager Elita Kane said she was relieved the rezoning was approved and is looking forward to finally completing Grande Bay.

“Finishing the project means a lot to us in proving that we’d like to be good neighbors,” said Kane. “Everybody will be happy when the construction is totally done. We’ll create more jobs, create more tourism and it will just be a very good thing for St. John.”

Kane was scheduled to arrive on St. John on Friday, April 16, to finalize plans with Grande Bay’s contractor before moving forward with the last phase of construction.

Governor deJongh’s signature last week cleared another hurdle in the move to relocate the post office, above, to a Boynes family-owned site near Pond Mouth Road.

The Boynes family’s request to have its 7,800 square foot parcel, located at 131 Estate Contact and Enighed, rezoned from R-4 to B-2 for the construction of a three-story building, with space to be leased to the U.S. Postal Service for a new St. John post office, passed easily through the Legislature and the governor’s approval.

“It’s great,” said family spokesperson Cheryl Boynes-Jackson. “We’re glad the governor approved the rezoning. We’re going to finalize information with the post office, and then we’ll go forward from there.”

Boynes-Jackson said she hopes construction will be the next phase in the years-long process toward building a new post office for Love City.

Barshinger gave the rezoning his blessing once he was satisfied that neighboring property owners approved of the Boynes family’s zoning change. The senator at large last week wrote to Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen asking her to call a hearing for the U.S. Postal Service to present its plans to the public.

“That way, people can comment on whether it’s going to work for us,” said Barshinger. “We have a planner, and we want to use him. We’re pretty good at envisioning our town; we just have to ask for them to share the material with us.”