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HomeNewsArchivesWOMEN VOTERS QUESTION LEGALITY OF BEAL LAND SWAP

WOMEN VOTERS QUESTION LEGALITY OF BEAL LAND SWAP

The League of Women Voters is questioning the legality of the proposed land exchange at Great Pond Bay between Beal Aerospace and the V.I. government.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Senate President Vargrave Richards, Erva Denham, president of the V.I. league, raised questions about the intent of the late Frank Wiesner when he deeded the land in 1974 to the government for "the express and direct purpose of beach, park and other public recreational use."
Denham said the Beal project would be good for St. Croix and that the league is "very much in favor of this industry’s presence."
"The league questions, however, the location, the proposed exchange of properties for those which are held in public trust at Estate Great Pond, and the granting of a variance without public hearings."
Beal has proposed that the government swap nearly 14.5 acres of land at Camp Arawak on Great Pond Bay, home to historical artifacts and buildings, for land at Estates Grange Hill and Whim. Beal, which needs the Arawak property for a portion of its parking lot, is looking to purchase in total approximately 300 acres for its world headquarters and rocket assembly plant. The company maintains most of the acreage would be used as a buffer surrounding the seven-acre building.
In her letter, Denham also said the land swap could cause individuals who are considering donating land to the government to reconsider.
"If this property is transferred . . ., the basic covenants of this deed of gift will be broken, and some dangerous precedents will be set," she wrote. "…In the future, anyone who may have thought about giving such gifts to the people of the Virgin Islands quite likely will change their minds as an action such as this will demonstrate that a person’s wishes regarding such gifts are not necessarily going to be honored.
"Who loses," she asked? "The people of the Virgin Islands."
Denham also asked whether the Wiesner family has been contacted about the proposed swap, which will be the focus of a Senate Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection meeting Friday at 10 a.m. in Frederiksted. If they have, and support it, she recommended a letter or statement of approval be obtained. If they are not in support, she said the family may have grounds to sue the government to have the property returned.
Calls to Wiesner Development were unsuccessful Tuesday evening because the office was closed.
Included in the language of the exchange agreement sent to the Senate by Gov. Charles Turnbull is a variance that rezones the acreage from waterfront pleasure to industrial.
Denham contended such language circumvents the standard rezoning process, which includes public hearings.

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The League of Women Voters is questioning the legality of the proposed land exchange at Great Pond Bay between Beal Aerospace and the V.I. government.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Senate President Vargrave Richards, Erva Denham, president of the V.I. league, raised questions about the intent of the late Frank Wiesner when he deeded the land in 1974 to the government for "the express and direct purpose of beach, park and other public recreational use."
Denham said the Beal project would be good for St. Croix and that the league is "very much in favor of this industry’s presence."
"The league questions, however, the location, the proposed exchange of properties for those which are held in public trust at Estate Great Pond, and the granting of a variance without public hearings."
Beal has proposed that the government swap nearly 14.5 acres of land at Camp Arawak on Great Pond Bay, home to historical artifacts and buildings, for land at Estates Grange Hill and Whim. Beal, which needs the Arawak property for a portion of its parking lot, is looking to purchase in total approximately 300 acres for its world headquarters and rocket assembly plant. The company maintains most of the acreage would be used as a buffer surrounding the seven-acre building.
In her letter, Denham also said the land swap could cause individuals who are considering donating land to the government to reconsider.
"If this property is transferred . . ., the basic covenants of this deed of gift will be broken, and some dangerous precedents will be set," she wrote. "...In the future, anyone who may have thought about giving such gifts to the people of the Virgin Islands quite likely will change their minds as an action such as this will demonstrate that a person’s wishes regarding such gifts are not necessarily going to be honored.
"Who loses," she asked? "The people of the Virgin Islands."
Denham also asked whether the Wiesner family has been contacted about the proposed swap, which will be the focus of a Senate Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection meeting Friday at 10 a.m. in Frederiksted. If they have, and support it, she recommended a letter or statement of approval be obtained. If they are not in support, she said the family may have grounds to sue the government to have the property returned.
Calls to Wiesner Development were unsuccessful Tuesday evening because the office was closed.
Included in the language of the exchange agreement sent to the Senate by Gov. Charles Turnbull is a variance that rezones the acreage from waterfront pleasure to industrial.
Denham contended such language circumvents the standard rezoning process, which includes public hearings.