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BOTANY BAY REZONING, NOT VARIANCE, PASSES

Dec. 11, 2001 – After months of study by environmental groups, discussion in public forums and hearings, and debate in Senate committees, the 24th Legislature in less than two hours Tuesday evening approved the rezoning of land at Botany Bay by an 8-7 vote on a bill sponsored by Sen. Celestino A. White Sr.
White announced on the Senate floor Tuesday morning that he would add his bill to the agenda. It rezones the Estate Botany Bay property from R-1 (Residential-Low Density) to R-3 (Residential-Medium Density).
At a Committee of the Whole meeting last Thursday, Planning and Natural Resources Department officials recommended not a zoning change but a zoning variance for Botany Bay Partners, the developers planning to build a $165 million resort on the pristine land at the far western tip of St. Thomas.
A variance would have allowed the developers to move ahead with their project while binding them to specifically approved plans for the use of the land. Botany Bay Partners officials have said they are sensitive to environmental and cultural concerns about the area. Rezoning opponents noted at the committee meeting that a variance would prevent the developers from drastically changing their plans or selling the property with new zoning to other developers.
White said, "For 50-something years, the residents of the V.I. were able to view the property only from the sky because the 390-plus acres had a gate that said 'don't enter'." He said the investors now have "put up millions of dollars, and single family homes can be built there right now." He said Botany Bay is private land now up for development.
White also said the rezoning will protect the environment and that the taxi drivers and farmers in the area are in full support of the rezoning."It's in the best long-term interest of the V.I." he concluded.
The bill brought heated debate from senators, several of whom favored going with a variance, and others who argued for sending the bill back to committee for further study.
Voting for the bill with White were Sens. Donald "Ducks"Cole, Roosevelt David, Carlton Dowe, Emmett Hansen II, Norman Jn.Baptiste, David Jones and Almando "Rocky" Liburd. Voting against the bill were Sens. Lorraine Berry, Adelbert Bryan, Douglas Canton Jr., Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Norma Pickard-Samuel and Vargrave Richards.
A more detailed account of the debate will be posted Wednesday morning.

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Dec. 11, 2001 - After months of study by environmental groups, discussion in public forums and hearings, and debate in Senate committees, the 24th Legislature in less than two hours Tuesday evening approved the rezoning of land at Botany Bay by an 8-7 vote on a bill sponsored by Sen. Celestino A. White Sr.
White announced on the Senate floor Tuesday morning that he would add his bill to the agenda. It rezones the Estate Botany Bay property from R-1 (Residential-Low Density) to R-3 (Residential-Medium Density).
At a Committee of the Whole meeting last Thursday, Planning and Natural Resources Department officials recommended not a zoning change but a zoning variance for Botany Bay Partners, the developers planning to build a $165 million resort on the pristine land at the far western tip of St. Thomas.
A variance would have allowed the developers to move ahead with their project while binding them to specifically approved plans for the use of the land. Botany Bay Partners officials have said they are sensitive to environmental and cultural concerns about the area. Rezoning opponents noted at the committee meeting that a variance would prevent the developers from drastically changing their plans or selling the property with new zoning to other developers.
White said, "For 50-something years, the residents of the V.I. were able to view the property only from the sky because the 390-plus acres had a gate that said 'don't enter'." He said the investors now have "put up millions of dollars, and single family homes can be built there right now." He said Botany Bay is private land now up for development.
White also said the rezoning will protect the environment and that the taxi drivers and farmers in the area are in full support of the rezoning."It's in the best long-term interest of the V.I." he concluded.
The bill brought heated debate from senators, several of whom favored going with a variance, and others who argued for sending the bill back to committee for further study.
Voting for the bill with White were Sens. Donald "Ducks"Cole, Roosevelt David, Carlton Dowe, Emmett Hansen II, Norman Jn.Baptiste, David Jones and Almando "Rocky" Liburd. Voting against the bill were Sens. Lorraine Berry, Adelbert Bryan, Douglas Canton Jr., Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Norma Pickard-Samuel and Vargrave Richards.
A more detailed account of the debate will be posted Wednesday morning.