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HomeNewsArchivesSENATE APPROVES SALE OF ROAD TO RITZ

SENATE APPROVES SALE OF ROAD TO RITZ

The Senate late Thursday approved the sale of a section of a public road to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
The Ritz will pay $50,000 for the strip of road that leads from the East End hotel to Bluebeard's Beach.
The bill was proposed by Senate President Vargrave Richards at the request of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who earlier this month said he wanted the sale approved and called a special session of the Legislature for that purpose.
The purchase of the 550-foot stretch of road will allow Marriott Hotel Services, parent company of the Ritz-Carlton, to proceed with plans for a $75 million expansion.
The small piece of roadway has been the subject of dispute between the Ritz-Carlton, Coastal Zone Management, the League of Women Voters and Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg since last year.
Donastorg and the LWV claimed the roadway cannot be sold because it is held as a "charitable trust," that the CZM erred in issuing a permit to the hotel, and that public beach access would be taken away.
Also at issue was a legal opinion by Yvonne Tharpes, legislative legal counsel. James Hindels, attorney for the hotel, and Donastorg disageed on whether the opinion allows the sale of the road.
Hindels testified Thursday, addressing these issues. With him was Alton Adams Jr., the engineer who negotiated the original transfer of the road from the late Henry Reichhold to the government. Adams told senators the road was not a charitable trust.
Government Chief Counsel Paul L. Gimenez testified the hotel will still provide beach access. Gimenez also said that the initial sale of the hotel's time-share units was expected to net the government $8 million in tax revenues and create annual taxes in excess of $800,000.
Hindels said the project would take three to four years to complete. The hotel now employs more than 300 people, approximately 85 percent of them local residents, and with the expansion would employ another 90 to 100 workers, of whom about 95 percent will be local, according to Hindels.
Helen Gjessing, testifying for the LWV, voiced strong objections. She said the LWV welcomed the economic benefits, but not at the expense of the law of the land.
Donastorg wasn't going down without a fight. Though he admitted "it looks like the bed is already made," he reiterated his opposition, citing the CZM permit and the disputed legal opinion, and offering the new argument that he had noticed deer on the property that might be "endangered."
The bill passed on a 12-2 vote, with Donastorg and Sen Alicia "Chucky" Hansen voting no. Sen. Adelbert "Bert" Bryan was absent. He had, however, sent a letter pleading with Richards not to pass the bill.
The bill is expected to be signed promptly by Turnbull.

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The Senate late Thursday approved the sale of a section of a public road to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
The Ritz will pay $50,000 for the strip of road that leads from the East End hotel to Bluebeard's Beach.
The bill was proposed by Senate President Vargrave Richards at the request of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, who earlier this month said he wanted the sale approved and called a special session of the Legislature for that purpose.
The purchase of the 550-foot stretch of road will allow Marriott Hotel Services, parent company of the Ritz-Carlton, to proceed with plans for a $75 million expansion.
The small piece of roadway has been the subject of dispute between the Ritz-Carlton, Coastal Zone Management, the League of Women Voters and Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg since last year.
Donastorg and the LWV claimed the roadway cannot be sold because it is held as a "charitable trust," that the CZM erred in issuing a permit to the hotel, and that public beach access would be taken away.
Also at issue was a legal opinion by Yvonne Tharpes, legislative legal counsel. James Hindels, attorney for the hotel, and Donastorg disageed on whether the opinion allows the sale of the road.
Hindels testified Thursday, addressing these issues. With him was Alton Adams Jr., the engineer who negotiated the original transfer of the road from the late Henry Reichhold to the government. Adams told senators the road was not a charitable trust.
Government Chief Counsel Paul L. Gimenez testified the hotel will still provide beach access. Gimenez also said that the initial sale of the hotel's time-share units was expected to net the government $8 million in tax revenues and create annual taxes in excess of $800,000.
Hindels said the project would take three to four years to complete. The hotel now employs more than 300 people, approximately 85 percent of them local residents, and with the expansion would employ another 90 to 100 workers, of whom about 95 percent will be local, according to Hindels.
Helen Gjessing, testifying for the LWV, voiced strong objections. She said the LWV welcomed the economic benefits, but not at the expense of the law of the land.
Donastorg wasn't going down without a fight. Though he admitted "it looks like the bed is already made," he reiterated his opposition, citing the CZM permit and the disputed legal opinion, and offering the new argument that he had noticed deer on the property that might be "endangered."
The bill passed on a 12-2 vote, with Donastorg and Sen Alicia "Chucky" Hansen voting no. Sen. Adelbert "Bert" Bryan was absent. He had, however, sent a letter pleading with Richards not to pass the bill.
The bill is expected to be signed promptly by Turnbull.