While Sirenusa developers await word from the V.I. Legislature regarding their rezone request, neighbors say they are still dealing with dangerous trucks and hazardous falling objects at the site overlooking Cruz Bay.
Developers are constructing a luxury condominium complex with 15 buildings on about 4.89 acres of land on a hillside site overlooking Cruz Bay.
Last week worried neighbors who saw four-story beams being erected at the site called Department of Planning and Natural Resources representatives. DPNR officials assured the neighbors the beams were going up only to be cut down.
Cutting Beams to Size
“They are cutting the beams down to size,” said DPNR spokesperson Jamal Nielsen. “They are allowed to put up four-story beams as long as they don’t build on them. As long as the final structure doesn’t surpass the maximum allowed two stories and mezzanine they are fine.”
Construction beams proved to pose another danger, according to neighbors.
A truck full of the beams apparently being brought to the site in mid-February spilled its load along the roadside on a sharp curve below the main entrance to the Sirenusa site, almost hitting a pedestrian, according to one neighbor.
The developers, Enighed Condominiums LLC, are requesting a zone change from R-2 to R-3 to allow for six or seven additional units on top of four planned three-story buildings.
The change is needed in order to make the project more economically feasible, explained Sirenusa owner Carlo Marzano at a December public hearing before Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning officials.
Residents Oppose Rezone
More than 100 residents turned up at the December hearing to voice their opposition to the rezonng request, citing problems with run-off, noise, traffic and encroachment.
Since the hearing, the developers have installed a speed bump at the entrance to the site, according to neighbor Katie Porter.
“The speed bump they put at the entry probably slows trucks down a bit, but I still see them speeding out of the entrance to the site,” said Porter. “We still have to deal with the traffic situation.”
While some areas of the neighborhood between Jacob’s Ladder and Bethany have been paved, the alternate access road for neighbors near the Sirenusa site remains unpaved, Porter explained.
“Public Works has not paved the roads going out the back way so we can avoid this,” said Porter. “There is a certain hill up past Sunset Ridge that is impossible to traverse. Our government is not serving us well.”
Plaskett Recommends Not Rezoning
Following the December DPNR meeting, representatives forwarded a letter to the V.I. Senate, who must vote in a Meeting of the Whole to amend the official zoning map, recommending the zoning at the site remain the same.
“Public commentary on the petition has been extensive and overwhelmingly in opposition to proposal,” wrote DPNR’s then-commissioner Dean Plaskett. “No one spoke in support of the application at the public hearing, and there have been no letters of support submitted to the Department for inclusion in the applicant’s file record.”
“The Department can not support any change (be it a rezoning to R-3 or a Variance to R-3 or any other district) to the property’s R-2 designation to allow a greater density, or an increase in the number of stories and the mezzanine already permitted by the Commissioner,” Plaskett wrote.
While no date has yet been set for the V.I. Senate to vote on the matter, Senator at Large Carmen Wesselhoft has insisted that meeting take place on St. John.
Wesselhoft Wants Meeting on St. John
“I have already spoken to the Majority Leader and have insisted that the meeting be held on St. John,” said Wesselhoft. “As far as I’ve heard we should have a meeting sometime in March, but a date has not been set. I will insist that meeting take place in St. John.”
In the meantime DPNR officials are keeping a close eye on the Sirenusa site, according to Nielsen.
“We are staying on top of it,” he said about the Sirenusa development.
Some neighbors, however, feel something fishy is going on, Porter explained.
“All of us have felt like the people in DPNR have been told to zip their lips,” said Porter.