Santa has been kind to the developers of an 89-unit hotel-condominium and 90-slip marina development in Coral Bay on St. John.
The Virgin Islands Legislature approved a bill on December 20 to rezone a seven-acre property which runs along the waterfront in Coral Bay.
The rezoning clears a legal obstacle that prevented T-Rex, LLC (also known as Sirius) from moving forward in its plan to develop a total of 11 acres leased from the Moravian Church Conference of the Virgin Islands.
Known locally as “the flats” and “the ballfield,” the seven-acre property considered for rezoning has been maintained as open space for centuries and been used by the community for numerous public activities.
This is not the first time the Senate has passed legislation to approve the property’s rezoning. The Senate met in April to hold hearings on the proposal at the Legislature Annex in Cruz Bay and in early October approved the measure 12-2. Only Senator-at-Large Almando “Rocky” Liburd and Senator Myron Jackson voted against it.
But Governor Mapp vetoed the bill, explaining his decision in a letter to the Legislature posted on his website on October 8: “I have vetoed Bill 31-0465 which relates to the zoning designation of parcel Rem, 10-A Estate Emmaus, St. John. The description of the property contained in this bill does not exist nor have any of the recommendations of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources been included.”
Bill 31-0465, which was intended to rectify inconsistencies in the zoning designations, was scrapped. Once the technical issues were resolved, a revised bill, 31-0490, was submitted, and this was the one approved on December 20.
“This approval allows us to develop the type of project we wanted,” said John Woods of the Jaredian Design Group which has been developing the plans for the marina and condominium projects.
The projects have been controversial, pitting those who want to preserve the unspoiled character of Coral Bay against those who value the economic benefit of commercial development.
The proposal for the hotel-condominium includes 89 one and two-story “cottages” clustered around courtyards. He said some units may be three stories high, but the slope of the property will reduce the apparent height of the buildings.
“The next steps will be to continue working toward a Coastal Zone Management application, more studies, and a higher level of design than what was required for the zoning change,” said Woods. He said the plan has not changed since it was presented to the public in April because the developers were waiting for approval of the zoning change.
Woods said the developers would be updating marketing studies as well as conducting further hydrological and drainage studies.
A proposal for a marina, which is separate from the hotel-condominium resort proposal, was submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers in December 2015.
That plan calls for construction of a bulkhead, concrete and floating docks to accommodate nearly 90 boats, a fuel dock, a boat service area, a wastewater treatment facility, sewage pump-out facilities, two buildings, underwater fuel tanks, an emergency generator, and a two-level parking deck for 60 cars.
A plan to build a reverse osmosis (RO) plant is being reconsidered. “From preliminary studies, we’re confident we can generate the water requirement from wells on site,” said Woods. “We will still have an RO plant to treat the well water, but there will be no intake or outflow from the sea.”
Woods said there was no definite timeframe for implementing the project. “We are continuing to respond to requests by the Army Corps of Engineers for information. We are revising our layout to reduce the amount of fill and the impact on the mangroves.” He said the Coastal Zone Management Board has not deemed the project complete enough for a hearing.
“As we continue to develop, we will meet with our stakeholders of Coral Bay through meetings with the Moravian Church,” Woods said.
For further information, follow the links below:
Tradewinds article from April 18, 2016 “Senate Meets to Consider Zone Changing For Coral Bay” http://www.stjohntradewindsnews.com/senate-meets-consider-zoning-change-coral-bay/
Save Coral Bay – www.savecoralbay.com
Coral Bay Community Council – http://www.coralbaycommunitycouncil.org/