March 18, 2004 – While a rezoning request to allow Guilderoy Sprauve to build a shopping center in St. John's Estate Adrian sailed through the V.I. Planning and Natural Resources Department's rezoning hearing on Monday with only a couple of positive comments, other requests met fierce opposition.
These applications for rezoning must be acted upon by the Legislature based on suggestions by Planning.
Eric Antonio Smalls requested rezoning from R-2, residential low density, one and two family, to R-4, residential medium density for multi-family dwellings. Smalls wants to build two eight-unit apartment buildings on 1.527 acres in Estate Pastory.
However, three area residents and an attorney representing those three opposed the project.
"It will seriously impact our area," resident Steve Black said. He said the area has 38 to 40 lots. Of that figure, 30 have been developed with single-family homes.
While the residents who spoke at the hearing don't want an apartment house in the midst of single-family homes, they also noted the poor condition of the road that leads through the area. Black feared the additional traffic from the tenants living in the apartments would make the situation worse.
"It's going to be mayhem," Black said. Encroachments on the road have narrowed it to the point where it's little more than a car-width wide, he noted.
"It's impossible to bring in emergency vehicles," resident Debbie Hayes added.
Additionally, the road enters Centerline Road at a blind curve, which increases the potential for an accident. Smalls countered by asking where were the statistics on how many accidents had happened at that intersection.
Also at issue is a bridge Black build on an easement acquired from a property owner. The bridge, which runs across a gut, allows Black and other property owners to bypass the portion of the estate road that is badly encroached by an ad hoc junkyard and car repair facility. Black said Small's tenants would not be allowed to use the bridge since Smalls did not contribute any money toward its construction.
The Planning Department also heard from Kevin Smith, who wants a rezoning from R-1, residential low density, to R-2, residential-low density, one and two family, in Estate Rendezvous and Ditleff.
Smith had cut a deal with Nancy G. Rogers and Dominic B. Watson to help them build a house on a portion of the half-acre parcel off Gifft Hill Road. In exchange, they would sell him half the land.
While the R-1 zoning already allows two homes on a half-acre, in order for Smith to own the property, it must be split in two. Both houses would share one driveway.
Senior planner Susan Higgins read into the record letters of opposition from six nearby property owners. One of those property owners sent an attorney to the hearing.
"If rezoning is allowed, there is the potential for a domino effect," St. John attorney Steven Hogroian said. Hogroian represented Joan Sparling and Fraser Drummond, who live above the Rogers/Watson property.
The attorney continued that Smith was once married to Sparling and a partner with her in American Paradise Real Estate. "It's inappropriate to ask for this," Hogroian said, referring to the rezoning.
Smith countered by alleging that Sparling had mounted an opposition campaign to nix his plans. He said that four of the letters opposing the project were faxed from her office in a short space of time.
"I can only conclude the move is personal," Smith said.
In discussing his plans to build a shopping center in Adrian, Sprauve said it will contribute to St. John's development and provide a service to people who live in he area. He said he plans to build a two-story building with 1,600 square feet on each level. He expects to rent space to a grocery store, the U.S. Postal Service for a branch, businesses that need office space, specialty stores, and an urgent-care medical office.
He said he will not rent to nightclubs, bars and other noisy businesses.
Sprauve asked for a rezoning from R-1 to B-3, business scattered.
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