CZM sells us out, once again!
St. John CZM OKs Summer’s End Marina Development
Despite an outcry from residents and others against Summer’s End plan to build a 145-slip marina in Coral Bay, the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee approved the project when it met Wednesday at the Legislature building on St. John.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping it works out for the best,” CZM member Edmond Roberts said after the meeting.
He and committee chairman Andrew Penn Sr. voted yes on both the land and water applications. The committee’s third member, Brion Morrisette, abstained on both because he had represented one of the applicants and held a lease on one of the parcels to be used in the development. Morrisette said that if he didn’t attend the meeting, the committee wouldn’t have a quorum and the project would be approved by default.
Roberts said he struggled with his decision but decided it was for the good of the Virgin Islands to have the marina development go forward so it could generate revenue for the local government.
From left, CZM members Brion Morrisette, Andrew Penn and Edmond Roberts discuss the proposal.“And Coral Harbor has changed dramatically in my lifetime. The marina is a minor change,” he said.
As for allowing Summer’s End to take over management of the moorings that now sit in Coral Bay, as well as add 75 additional moorings, Roberts said the harbor at Coral Bay could use some organization.
Penn said he read all 300 plus letters sent to him opposing the marina but he said he envisions Coral Bay as a “super harbor” that would put St. John on a par with other destinations that have commercial dockage.
“It’s the one remaining area for development,” he said, adding that he sees it as a step toward the island’s future.
Chaliese Summers, who with Rick Barksdale and Robert O’Connor Jr., is a principal in the Summer’s End group, said after the meeting that they worked extremely hard with the Planning and Natural Resources Department, with the community and various agencies to move the project forward.
More than three dozen people, many of them Coral Bay area residents, attended the meeting to hear in person what the CZM would do. At the Aug. 20 public hearing on the matter and in numerous letters to the editor and through other efforts,they mainly complained that the scope of the project was too large and it was located in a spot that was vulnerable to storm damage. They also objected to the noise from driving 1,300 pilings for the marina, claiming that it will drive away the area’s lucrative vacation villa business as well as send customers scurrying from the handful of restaurants in the area.
The residents sat through the vote on the land portion of the application that would redevelop several building along Route 107 that include the long-closed Voyages building, the Island Blues building and Cocoloba shopping center. However, a few began filing out as soon as Penn started reading the conditions recommended by the CZM staff for the marina portion.
Outside the Legislature building, they gathered in small knots of people to discuss the CZM decision.
Summer’s End principal Rick Barksdale, environmental consultant Amy Dempsey and Summer’s End principal Chaliese Summers listen to the proceedings.“It’s extremely disappointing,” Coral Bay Community Council President Sharon Coldren said.
She said this is the first time in her 11 years of following St. John CZM Committee votes that the members didn’t request any modifications.
The CZM members accepted the CZM staff recommendations that the applications be approved with some conditions.
“The proposed development is consistent with the CZM act,” Penn said.
Many of the conditions for both the land and water portions are similar to those imposed on all projects, such as the need to get all territorial and federal permits, including a required permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Included in the water conditions is a provision that the developer can only drive pilings from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They can work on land projects until 5 p.m. In both instances, they can’t work on Sundays.
The developer must also provide shuttle service for the crews working on the land portion and bathrooms for those doing the marina work. They can’t remove mangroves and if they need to trim them, they must get a permit from the Planning and Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Division.
The conditions also mandate that boaters using the marina must use the pump out facilities and fuel pumps must have automatic shut off nozzles.
For both land and water permits, Summer’s End must post a performance bond of 20 percent, or as much as $5 million, which is the estimated cost of construction. The developer also must maintain a $2 million default bond so the area can be returned to its original state if they don’t complete the project.
Overflow Crowd Says No to St. John Marina Proposal
With this huge marina, Coral Bay will be forever changed as will the water quality, the sea grass beds, the corals and marine life that depend on them. If the people of Coral Bay wanted to live in an atmosphere like Miami or Condado, they would move there.
The VI Goverment is ruining our islands and the reasons that people come here for,
the NATURAL beauty of the islands.
We have already damaged our reefs to almost beyond recovery. Until we stop selling out our environment until nothing is left of this natural beauty and provide a safe and affordable product, they shall continue to despoil the islands. People don't come to vacation here because of marinas and dolphinariums. Yacht Haven Grand has businesses and restaurants turning over or closing. Their docks sit empty 3/4's of the year.
CZM members are out of touch with reality and are doing more harm than good.
It strikes me as odd that 2 men can decide the fate of an entire community while the 3rd on the CZM board represents developers, has property in vicinity which he is supposed to be selling to developers and has had a hand in past, failed allowed development in the area.
I wonder who has rights to the the wetlands, the submerged lands, what is being paid for submerged lands usage, the process with which they justify can approving such a large project that the majority in Coral Bay do not wish to have forced upon them which will impact the seagrass beds, protected corals, etc. presently in place and healthy and change the area completely.
This is not a transparent deal. These developers also have never had a hand in previous marina development nor management as far as I know. One of them has had a couple name changes and was an interior designer prior to this project.
It would be great IF St John wanted this but the majority DO NOT.
STX can have it and deal with the environmental consequences down the road.
This project is FAR too big for Coral Bay.
Less objections if it would have been 1/3rd the size and less invasive.
This project more suited to Miami beach than sleepy Coral Bay. It will forever change it.
Y'all are welcome to it.
"Pave paradise and put up a parking lot!"
The front woman, ms. Summer, has had one name change, worked previously as an interior designer and has declared bankruptcy.
As mentioned above these people have no experience building nor managing a project of this size that is totally unsuitable for this location.
There was a $900k plus grant, pushed thru by Donna Christiansen from the interior dept for recreational boating that ended up going to this summer's end marina project that would have been better suited to be given to other legitimate enterprises.