Grande Bay Rezoning Request Approved; Neighbors File Suit

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The Grande Bay Resort request to rezone a 0.28-acre Cruz Bay parcel from W-1 to R-4 was approved Thursday, November 10 by the V.I. Senate, clearing the way for the final 14 units of the project towering over Cruz Bay beach.

The approval of the rezoning request came just one day after four owners of a neighboring property – Alexander Jadan, Natalie Jadan, Anastasia Trey and Liza Trey – filed suit against the developers of the resort, Bay Isle Associates, LLLP.

Nine Senators voted in favor of the rezoning request, including bill sponsor Senator Roosevelt St.C. David and Senators Liston Davis, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis Hill, Neville James, Shawn-Michael Malone, Terrence Nelson, Usie Richards and Celestino White Sr.

Three Senators Vote No
Senator-at-Large Craig Barshinger, Senate President Lorraine Berry and Senator Adlah Donastorg Jr. voted against the rezoning request; Senator Ronald Russell did not vote and Senators Pedro Encarnacion and Norman Jn Baptiste were not present.

The zoning change from W-1 to R-4 will allow construction of a total of 14 condominiums. The luxury units have already been planned and sold, contingent on the zone change.

The day before their request for rezoning was approved, a complaint was filed against Bay Isle Associates alleging three zoning violations – height, density and lack of lateral support.

The plaintiffs, former relatives and descendants of the late Ivan and Doris Jadan, own a 650 square foot cottage 35 feet from the development. They are requesting the court issue a permanent injunction to stop Grande Bay developers from continuing with further plans which would cause violations of the R-4 zoning of their 1.03-acre property.

When finished, the buildings will rise 106 feet above sea level and will block the plaintiffs’ ocean, sunrise and sunset views – and most breezes, according to the complaint. The plaintiffs’ property is 90 feet above sea level.

“My family was never approached on this project – we had to seek all the information for the past two and a half years,” said Liza Trey. “Kelly Frye denied blocking our view and said he’s building to code – he’s either lying or doesn’t know how to read his site plans.”

The complaint claims “the views and breezes from the plaintiff’s property have always been a major aspect of the property’s market and income-producing value.”

“We haven’t been able to rent it,” said Liza Trey. “It was renting 47 out of 52 weeks each year, and now I’ll be lucky to get it rented 4.7 weeks out of the year – this is absolutely a result of the Grande Bay development.”

Attorney Lorren Caffee, who is representing the plaintiffs, said based on preliminary plans obtained by Liza Trey, Grande Bay will exceed the density of 120 people per acre which is allowed under R-4 zoning on its 1.03-acre parcel, and possibly on the recently rezoned 0.28-acre parcel as well.

Where density is concerned, a one-bedroom unit represents two people; a two-bedroom unit represents three people; and units with three or more bedrooms represent four people, according to Caffee.

While the attorney acknowledged he has not been able to obtain up-to-date plans from DPNR or Grande Bay developers, based on the preliminary plans he estimates that buildings on the 1.03-acre parcel will house 141 people, exceeding the 123 people that are allowed according to zoning laws.

Grande Bay Resort also violates height requirements, according to the complaint. R-4 zoning restricts buildings to a height of three stories, but the complaint alleges that the resort has five stories including a basement.

The third violation, according to the complaint, is a lack of lateral support. “The excavations made by Bay Isle have removed the necessary lateral support of plaintiffs’ land and the defendant has failed to construct a retaining wall or other form of support as substitution for the excavated land,” the complaint reads.

Neighbors Directly Affected
Although many St. John residents are unhappy with the Grande Bay Resort, a lawsuit can only be filed by people who are directly affected by the development, according to Attorney Caffee.

“In essence, we’re trying to enforce something that the governmental agency was supposed to enforce for the public’s benefit,” he said. “The only reason we can bring suit is because my clients are directly affected by this.”

The summons had not been served to Bay Isle Associates as of Friday, November 11. The company will have 20 days to respond once they have been notified of the complaint.

Repeated telephone calls to Grande Bay officials for comment were not returned.

Although the rezoning approval has no bearing on the complaint, Liza Trey said she was disappointed to hear the request had been approved, especially since “the majority of St. Johnians are against the entire project.”

“We believe violations exist and are surprised that the Senators didn’t take the time to look into the matter before their vote,” Trey said.