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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesBEAL APPEAL WON'T BRING COMPANY BACK TO ISLAND

BEAL APPEAL WON'T BRING COMPANY BACK TO ISLAND

Beal Aerospace’s involvement in the appeal of the Camp Arawak land swap decision in merely a matter of "house-cleaning" and not an attempt to return to St. Croix, a company spokesman said Tuesday.
Beal and the V.I. government were blocked by a Territorial Court judge last Dec. 15 from implementing a land exchange agreement that would have given the company 14 acres of public property as part of a larger plan to construct its world headquarters and rocket assembly plant on 270 acres near Great Pond Bay.
Beal announced that it was pulling out of St. Croix two weeks after Judge Alphonso Andrews granted plaintiff Alicia "Chucky" Hansen’s request for a permanent injunction against the land swap, which had been approved by the Legislature on Oct. 5. Andrews ruled that the deal between the company and the government violated terms of the charitable trust through which the land was deeded to the people of the Virgin Islands.
The government and Texas-based Beal, however, both filed an appeal of Andrews' decision. Their cases have been consolidated and are pending in the local Appellate Division of the District Court.
But whatever the outcome, Beal vice president David Spoede said, the company has no interest in returning to the Virgin Islands. He said that as far as Beal is concerned, the appeal is to make sure the company doesn’t have to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees. The government effort, he said, is to undo the "horribly bad" precedent set by the judge in the case.
"We’re making no effort whatsoever" to return to St. Croix, Spoede said. He added that a successful appeal "would mean the government of the Virgin Islands isn’t left with bad precedent."
Spoede said Beal hasn’t decided where it will build its rocket manufacturing facility. The company recently completed a deal to build a rocket launch pad in the South American country of Guyana. However, there, as on St. Croix, the plan has run into opposition within the country.
Meanwhile, Hansen’s attorney, Ned Jacobs, said the appeals process could take three months. The territory's two District Court judges, Raymond Finch and Thomas Moore, and a yet-to-be-announced Territorial Court judge will review the transcripts of the trial proceedings in Andrews' court. Then the government and Beal will have 40 days to submit briefs explaining why the decision should be overturned.
At that point, Jacobs will have 30 days to respond to the defendants’ briefs, which will be followed by another two weeks where the government and Beal can again reply. The judges will then decide whether to hear oral arguments without additional testimony. The losing party could appeal a decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
"Beal has indicated they want to go ahead with this appeal," Jacobs said. "What’s going on in Guyana right now has no effect on the appeal."
Meantime, the V.I. government has asked the federal court to vacate the section of Andrews' order calling for the Turnbull administration to develop the Camp Arawak property into a park. The government contends that it doesn’t have the estimated $1.3 million required to comply with the order.
Jacobs, however, responded by saying that if the government’s appeal is based on the cost of developing Camp Arawak into a park, then a more modest proposal should be considered. He also said the government should consider removing itself from the position of trustee for the property.

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Beal Aerospace’s involvement in the appeal of the Camp Arawak land swap decision in merely a matter of "house-cleaning" and not an attempt to return to St. Croix, a company spokesman said Tuesday.
Beal and the V.I. government were blocked by a Territorial Court judge last Dec. 15 from implementing a land exchange agreement that would have given the company 14 acres of public property as part of a larger plan to construct its world headquarters and rocket assembly plant on 270 acres near Great Pond Bay.
Beal announced that it was pulling out of St. Croix two weeks after Judge Alphonso Andrews granted plaintiff Alicia "Chucky" Hansen’s request for a permanent injunction against the land swap, which had been approved by the Legislature on Oct. 5. Andrews ruled that the deal between the company and the government violated terms of the charitable trust through which the land was deeded to the people of the Virgin Islands.
The government and Texas-based Beal, however, both filed an appeal of Andrews' decision. Their cases have been consolidated and are pending in the local Appellate Division of the District Court.
But whatever the outcome, Beal vice president David Spoede said, the company has no interest in returning to the Virgin Islands. He said that as far as Beal is concerned, the appeal is to make sure the company doesn’t have to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees. The government effort, he said, is to undo the "horribly bad" precedent set by the judge in the case.
"We’re making no effort whatsoever" to return to St. Croix, Spoede said. He added that a successful appeal "would mean the government of the Virgin Islands isn’t left with bad precedent."
Spoede said Beal hasn’t decided where it will build its rocket manufacturing facility. The company recently completed a deal to build a rocket launch pad in the South American country of Guyana. However, there, as on St. Croix, the plan has run into opposition within the country.
Meanwhile, Hansen’s attorney, Ned Jacobs, said the appeals process could take three months. The territory's two District Court judges, Raymond Finch and Thomas Moore, and a yet-to-be-announced Territorial Court judge will review the transcripts of the trial proceedings in Andrews' court. Then the government and Beal will have 40 days to submit briefs explaining why the decision should be overturned.
At that point, Jacobs will have 30 days to respond to the defendants’ briefs, which will be followed by another two weeks where the government and Beal can again reply. The judges will then decide whether to hear oral arguments without additional testimony. The losing party could appeal a decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
"Beal has indicated they want to go ahead with this appeal," Jacobs said. "What’s going on in Guyana right now has no effect on the appeal."
Meantime, the V.I. government has asked the federal court to vacate the section of Andrews' order calling for the Turnbull administration to develop the Camp Arawak property into a park. The government contends that it doesn’t have the estimated $1.3 million required to comply with the order.
Jacobs, however, responded by saying that if the government’s appeal is based on the cost of developing Camp Arawak into a park, then a more modest proposal should be considered. He also said the government should consider removing itself from the position of trustee for the property.