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HomeNewsArchivesDPNR, SENATORS AMENABLE TO ZONING CHANGES

DPNR, SENATORS AMENABLE TO ZONING CHANGES

April 24, 2001 – In a hearing Tuesday night, several senators signaled their intent to approve a zoning change to accommodate construction of 177 timeshare units adjacent to Marriott Frenchman's Reef as well as several other zone change requests.
Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd said he will put all of the requests on the Legislature's agenda for a vote at the next session, May 14.
Neighbors of Marriott who came to testify against the expansion had to wait until 10 p.m. to do so. Although it was the largest and most controversial zoning request on the agenda, it was left to last. The meeting began at 5 p.m. and went on until midnight.
Dean Plaskett, commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources, recommended approval of the Marriott project.
He said some of the concerns that opponents raised could be addressed when the project goes before the Coastal Zone Management Committee for a CZM permit.
Marriott is planning the expansion on about 11 acres of land northwest of the resort. Approximately six acres are already zoned R-3 (Residential-medium density) and will permit the density the company seeks. The other four acres are zoned R-1 (Residential-low density), a designation that will allow for only 24 homes.
Six neighboring residents or their individual representatives testified on the project, all in opposition. A few more had lined up to speak but apparently gave up as the hearing dragged on into the night.
Opponents said the four acres were zoned R-1 when the hotel was built in order to act as a green belt and buffer between a commercial property and the residential neighborhoods of Estate Bakkeroe and Estate Bellevue. They voiced concerns about traffic congestion, noise, erosion, invasion of privacy and a change in the aesthetic quality of the area. The issues were basically the same that they had raised in August at the DPNR public hearing.
Speaking for Marriott, John Kennedy said the resort had made numerous changes to the plans in response to the opposition voiced then. Originally designed as 234 units, the project was scaled back to 177. Instead of 14 buildings, there are now six. Rather than two parking garages, there is now one. And none of the buildings will be six stories; the highest will be five. He said even the orientation of one building had been changed so that it overlooks the sea rather than a neighboring home.
Attorney George Dudley, who did most of the talking for Marriott, said once the expansion is complete, it is projected to pay $3.1 million a year in local taxes, including $1.7 million in property taxes. That compares to an annual contribution of $96,000 now.
Over the next 10 years, Dudley said, the Virgin Islands will gain $440 million because of the development. He estimated the cost of project at more than $97 million.
Senators voiced strong support for another, smaller resort development, again over the objections of some neighboring residents who testified in opposition.
Contractor Joe Hodge won a friendly reception for his request to rezone 5.5 acres of land at Cabrita Point from R-1 to W-1 (Waterfront-pleasure) to provide for a small marina and convention center and 32 condominium units. The plans include a breakwater.
Andrea King, president of the Red Hook Community Alliance, said a breakwater will change the dynamics of the beaches at both Vessup Bay and Bluebeard's Beach. Other concerns included the commercialization of one of the few undeveloped beaches left on St. Thomas (Vessup), possible destruction of turtle nesting and feeding habitats, and the condition of the Cabrita Point Road.
Again Plaskett said those concerns can be addressed by CZM. He recommended approval of the zoning change.
Hodge said the development is just the continuation of one started in the 1980s. He said he plans to invest about $6 million.
Sen. Emmett Hansen II said he had worked with Hodge on a construction project which Hodge paid out of his own pocket to improve. "I have absolutely no question about Mr. Hodge's commitment to making sure things are done right," Hansen said.
Senators appeared ready to follow DPNR's recommendation on Roy Anduze's request for a zoning change at the site of his family home on Raphune Hill. Anduze said he wanted a change from R-2 to B-2 (Business-secondary) so he could turn the house his father built in 1954 into a restaurant.
He said the area is no longer residential, but his closest neighbor, Robert Moron, argued that their section is residential. Moron said the B-2 rating allows 197 different uses. He suggested Anduze seek a variance on the property instead. This would allow a restaurant but none of the other 196 uses.
A variance was DPNR's recommendation, with the condition that Anduze also widen and pave the access road. Some senators said they believed Anduze should get the zoning change, but the consensus appeared to be for a variance.
Senators expressed general support for two other rezoning requests. One is by Casey Smith for a parcel of land in Bovoni from R-2 to B-3 to make way for a computer repair service, auto security installation and apparel printing. The other is by Samuel and Gloria Lettsome for 2.5 acres from R-1 to R-2 in order to subdivide the property to deed it to their children.

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April 24, 2001 - In a hearing Tuesday night, several senators signaled their intent to approve a zoning change to accommodate construction of 177 timeshare units adjacent to Marriott Frenchman's Reef as well as several other zone change requests.
Senate President Almando "Rocky" Liburd said he will put all of the requests on the Legislature's agenda for a vote at the next session, May 14.
Neighbors of Marriott who came to testify against the expansion had to wait until 10 p.m. to do so. Although it was the largest and most controversial zoning request on the agenda, it was left to last. The meeting began at 5 p.m. and went on until midnight.
Dean Plaskett, commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources, recommended approval of the Marriott project.
He said some of the concerns that opponents raised could be addressed when the project goes before the Coastal Zone Management Committee for a CZM permit.
Marriott is planning the expansion on about 11 acres of land northwest of the resort. Approximately six acres are already zoned R-3 (Residential-medium density) and will permit the density the company seeks. The other four acres are zoned R-1 (Residential-low density), a designation that will allow for only 24 homes.
Six neighboring residents or their individual representatives testified on the project, all in opposition. A few more had lined up to speak but apparently gave up as the hearing dragged on into the night.
Opponents said the four acres were zoned R-1 when the hotel was built in order to act as a green belt and buffer between a commercial property and the residential neighborhoods of Estate Bakkeroe and Estate Bellevue. They voiced concerns about traffic congestion, noise, erosion, invasion of privacy and a change in the aesthetic quality of the area. The issues were basically the same that they had raised in August at the DPNR public hearing.
Speaking for Marriott, John Kennedy said the resort had made numerous changes to the plans in response to the opposition voiced then. Originally designed as 234 units, the project was scaled back to 177. Instead of 14 buildings, there are now six. Rather than two parking garages, there is now one. And none of the buildings will be six stories; the highest will be five. He said even the orientation of one building had been changed so that it overlooks the sea rather than a neighboring home.
Attorney George Dudley, who did most of the talking for Marriott, said once the expansion is complete, it is projected to pay $3.1 million a year in local taxes, including $1.7 million in property taxes. That compares to an annual contribution of $96,000 now.
Over the next 10 years, Dudley said, the Virgin Islands will gain $440 million because of the development. He estimated the cost of project at more than $97 million.
Senators voiced strong support for another, smaller resort development, again over the objections of some neighboring residents who testified in opposition.
Contractor Joe Hodge won a friendly reception for his request to rezone 5.5 acres of land at Cabrita Point from R-1 to W-1 (Waterfront-pleasure) to provide for a small marina and convention center and 32 condominium units. The plans include a breakwater.
Andrea King, president of the Red Hook Community Alliance, said a breakwater will change the dynamics of the beaches at both Vessup Bay and Bluebeard's Beach. Other concerns included the commercialization of one of the few undeveloped beaches left on St. Thomas (Vessup), possible destruction of turtle nesting and feeding habitats, and the condition of the Cabrita Point Road.
Again Plaskett said those concerns can be addressed by CZM. He recommended approval of the zoning change.
Hodge said the development is just the continuation of one started in the 1980s. He said he plans to invest about $6 million.
Sen. Emmett Hansen II said he had worked with Hodge on a construction project which Hodge paid out of his own pocket to improve. "I have absolutely no question about Mr. Hodge's commitment to making sure things are done right," Hansen said.
Senators appeared ready to follow DPNR's recommendation on Roy Anduze's request for a zoning change at the site of his family home on Raphune Hill. Anduze said he wanted a change from R-2 to B-2 (Business-secondary) so he could turn the house his father built in 1954 into a restaurant.
He said the area is no longer residential, but his closest neighbor, Robert Moron, argued that their section is residential. Moron said the B-2 rating allows 197 different uses. He suggested Anduze seek a variance on the property instead. This would allow a restaurant but none of the other 196 uses.
A variance was DPNR's recommendation, with the condition that Anduze also widen and pave the access road. Some senators said they believed Anduze should get the zoning change, but the consensus appeared to be for a variance.
Senators expressed general support for two other rezoning requests. One is by Casey Smith for a parcel of land in Bovoni from R-2 to B-3 to make way for a computer repair service, auto security installation and apparel printing. The other is by Samuel and Gloria Lettsome for 2.5 acres from R-1 to R-2 in order to subdivide the property to deed it to their children.