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CZM TO RECONSIDER POND BAY

Jan. 2, 2002 – After mulling over changes requested by the public and St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee members for a proposed condominium resort at Chocolate Hole, Pond Bay Club developers have resubmitted their CZM application.
The First American Development Group/Carib Limited Partnership withdrew its original application on March 15, 2001. A public hearing on the new application will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Legislature Building on St. John. The CZM Committee will make its decision Feb. 5. That meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Legislature Building.
St. Thomas attorney Paul Hoffman, who represents First American Development, said the company took to heart many of the complaints made by residents at a Jan. 17, 2001, public hearing.
"There were three or four very strong objections at that meeting," Hoffman said.
Complaints centered on the project's density and its impact on the adjacent salt pond.
Chocolate Hole resident Don Drost, a member of an ad hoc group of St. John residents monitoring the CZM application, recently scrutinized the developer's plans.
"It's scaled down 10 percent in size," Drost said.
The number of units has been reduced to 56 from 62, and the number of beds now sits at 162 instead of 180.
Drost also said that the new application calls for dumping brine from the reverse osmosis plant as well as treated sewage 1,500 feet offshore instead of 200 feet, as was originally proposed.
Hoffman said the brine will be combined with treated sewage. The sewage would be treated with ultraviolet light instead of chlorine as indicated in the original environmental assessment report.
Drost said a three-story unit that sat in the center of the project has been shifted to the side.
However, Drost said that the developers plan to place some two-story units along the beach. This would obstruct the sea view for some Chocolate Hole residents.
While Drost was pleased that the developer responded to complaints made at the Jan. 17, 2001, public hearing on the original CZM application, he still finds the proposal too dense for a residential neighborhood like Chocolate Hole.
"It is not substantially smaller than the Westin," he said, referring to the hotel that sits on the bay next door.
Chocolate Hole has only about one-sixth the volume of water of Great Cruz Bay, and that is not enough to handle a development of this size, he said.
Drost also is worried about noise pollution.
"R.O. units make a lot of noise," he said, referring to the noise from reverse osmosis desalinization units used at most hotels.
He found it "really laughable" that the plans call for a one-day storage capacity for the sewage treatment plant. If there's a problem that runs beyond one day, he said, the raw sewage will be dumped into the bay.
While Drost concedes that First American Development has the right to develop its property, he said it does not have the right "to disrupt life" in a year-round community with lots of full-time residents.
He also wondered who will make sure First American Development does what it has indicated in its environmental assessment report.
CZM Committee member J. Brion Morrisette said his preliminary review of First American Development's application shows that the company has "taken meaningful steps to the concerns raised by the public." Beyond that, he would not comment.
Some residents vehemently opposed the project when it first was aired. One called it an environmental tragedy.
The project was first approved in 1986 but failed just after construction started. A big cistern and a denuded beach remain from that work.
Residents said that while the project was approved then, they now know much more about environmental problems that could come from the proposed Pond Bay Club.

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Jan. 2, 2002 – After mulling over changes requested by the public and St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee members for a proposed condominium resort at Chocolate Hole, Pond Bay Club developers have resubmitted their CZM application.
The First American Development Group/Carib Limited Partnership withdrew its original application on March 15, 2001. A public hearing on the new application will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Legislature Building on St. John. The CZM Committee will make its decision Feb. 5. That meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Legislature Building.
St. Thomas attorney Paul Hoffman, who represents First American Development, said the company took to heart many of the complaints made by residents at a Jan. 17, 2001, public hearing.
"There were three or four very strong objections at that meeting," Hoffman said.
Complaints centered on the project's density and its impact on the adjacent salt pond.
Chocolate Hole resident Don Drost, a member of an ad hoc group of St. John residents monitoring the CZM application, recently scrutinized the developer's plans.
"It's scaled down 10 percent in size," Drost said.
The number of units has been reduced to 56 from 62, and the number of beds now sits at 162 instead of 180.
Drost also said that the new application calls for dumping brine from the reverse osmosis plant as well as treated sewage 1,500 feet offshore instead of 200 feet, as was originally proposed.
Hoffman said the brine will be combined with treated sewage. The sewage would be treated with ultraviolet light instead of chlorine as indicated in the original environmental assessment report.
Drost said a three-story unit that sat in the center of the project has been shifted to the side.
However, Drost said that the developers plan to place some two-story units along the beach. This would obstruct the sea view for some Chocolate Hole residents.
While Drost was pleased that the developer responded to complaints made at the Jan. 17, 2001, public hearing on the original CZM application, he still finds the proposal too dense for a residential neighborhood like Chocolate Hole.
"It is not substantially smaller than the Westin," he said, referring to the hotel that sits on the bay next door.
Chocolate Hole has only about one-sixth the volume of water of Great Cruz Bay, and that is not enough to handle a development of this size, he said.
Drost also is worried about noise pollution.
"R.O. units make a lot of noise," he said, referring to the noise from reverse osmosis desalinization units used at most hotels.
He found it "really laughable" that the plans call for a one-day storage capacity for the sewage treatment plant. If there's a problem that runs beyond one day, he said, the raw sewage will be dumped into the bay.
While Drost concedes that First American Development has the right to develop its property, he said it does not have the right "to disrupt life" in a year-round community with lots of full-time residents.
He also wondered who will make sure First American Development does what it has indicated in its environmental assessment report.
CZM Committee member J. Brion Morrisette said his preliminary review of First American Development's application shows that the company has "taken meaningful steps to the concerns raised by the public." Beyond that, he would not comment.
Some residents vehemently opposed the project when it first was aired. One called it an environmental tragedy.
The project was first approved in 1986 but failed just after construction started. A big cistern and a denuded beach remain from that work.
Residents said that while the project was approved then, they now know much more about environmental problems that could come from the proposed Pond Bay Club.