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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, May 28, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesEAST HAS NOT TAKEN POSITION ON RITZ CARLTON

EAST HAS NOT TAKEN POSITION ON RITZ CARLTON

Please note that the Environmental Association of St. Thomas — St. John has not taken a position regarding the proposed transfer of the road parcel to the Ritz Carlton Hotel. EAST has articulated four concerns regarding the issuance of a major CZM permit to the Ritz Carlton:
1. Present and future runoff rates for the site were significantly underestimated, and need to be re-calculated utilizing correct hydrologic soil group and curve number information, as provided in the 1995 Virgin Islands Environmental Protection Handbook. Specifically, Cramer soils are hydrologic soil group C (not A). Curve numbers for open space range from 86 for poor condition to 74 for good condition and curve numbers for low brush and grass range from 77 to 65; thus, a curve number of 49 is excessively and inaccurately low. As a result, the sediment control practices proposed for the site are inappropriate to retain sediment being transported to nearshore coastal waters.
2. While the staff recommendation to the Coastal Zone Management Commission acknowledges that there will likely be a degradation of marine resources within Great Bay, there was no baseline assessment of the benthic communities in Great Bay; and there is no requirement for a monitoring plan incorporated into the permit issued. Both actions are necessary measures to ensure that marine resources are not degraded by runoff from upland construction. The absence of these requirements is in direct contravention of the intent of the environmental policies of the Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management Act as stated in 12VIC906(b).
3. The heights of the buildings obstruct visual access to the shoreline from adjacent properties. The proposed structures are taller than most that have been permitted on St. Thomas since the Coastal Zone Management Act was approved in 1978, with the top of one building at an approximate elevation of 80 feet and two others at approximately 60 feet, while the highest point of any natural elevation behind them is only 53 feet. Sections 906 (a) and (c) of the Coastal Zone Management Act seek to assure that views to the coastline will be protected; however the heights of the structures permitted by CZT-2-99L are inconsistent with that goal.
4. There was no certification from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Division for Archaeology & Historic Preservation for the portion of the site that is proposed to be developed. The certification submitted only addressed the removal of the existing foundations, cistern and slab and not the new project. The Cultural Resources Survey submitted was for a proposed marina in Muller Bay. There was no Cultural Resources Survey for the Great Bay area. In Virgin Islands Conservation Society v. Board of Land Use Appeals, the court determined that the Coastal Zone Management Committee must require the developer to submit all necessary information concerning environmental impact.

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Please note that the Environmental Association of St. Thomas -- St. John has not taken a position regarding the proposed transfer of the road parcel to the Ritz Carlton Hotel. EAST has articulated four concerns regarding the issuance of a major CZM permit to the Ritz Carlton:
1. Present and future runoff rates for the site were significantly underestimated, and need to be re-calculated utilizing correct hydrologic soil group and curve number information, as provided in the 1995 Virgin Islands Environmental Protection Handbook. Specifically, Cramer soils are hydrologic soil group C (not A). Curve numbers for open space range from 86 for poor condition to 74 for good condition and curve numbers for low brush and grass range from 77 to 65; thus, a curve number of 49 is excessively and inaccurately low. As a result, the sediment control practices proposed for the site are inappropriate to retain sediment being transported to nearshore coastal waters.
2. While the staff recommendation to the Coastal Zone Management Commission acknowledges that there will likely be a degradation of marine resources within Great Bay, there was no baseline assessment of the benthic communities in Great Bay; and there is no requirement for a monitoring plan incorporated into the permit issued. Both actions are necessary measures to ensure that marine resources are not degraded by runoff from upland construction. The absence of these requirements is in direct contravention of the intent of the environmental policies of the Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management Act as stated in 12VIC906(b).
3. The heights of the buildings obstruct visual access to the shoreline from adjacent properties. The proposed structures are taller than most that have been permitted on St. Thomas since the Coastal Zone Management Act was approved in 1978, with the top of one building at an approximate elevation of 80 feet and two others at approximately 60 feet, while the highest point of any natural elevation behind them is only 53 feet. Sections 906 (a) and (c) of the Coastal Zone Management Act seek to assure that views to the coastline will be protected; however the heights of the structures permitted by CZT-2-99L are inconsistent with that goal.
4. There was no certification from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Division for Archaeology & Historic Preservation for the portion of the site that is proposed to be developed. The certification submitted only addressed the removal of the existing foundations, cistern and slab and not the new project. The Cultural Resources Survey submitted was for a proposed marina in Muller Bay. There was no Cultural Resources Survey for the Great Bay area. In Virgin Islands Conservation Society v. Board of Land Use Appeals, the court determined that the Coastal Zone Management Committee must require the developer to submit all necessary information concerning environmental impact.