Property Law May Hold Answer to Beach Access

Dear Source,
The Virgin Islands Open Shorelines Act does not grant a right to the general public to cross private property to access the shorelines of the Virgin Islands. Such a law would likely be unconstitutional.
What the Open Shorelines Act does is grant the public a right to use and enjoy the shorelines of the Virgin Islands. To access those shorelines, the public must rely on existing access, or — as is the typical case with beachfront hotels — rely on the access granted as a condition of the issuance of a major Coastal Zone Management permit.
That said, it is certainly possible the public has established rights of access across the path that your article indicates has been blocked off. Whether historic use of the path has ripened into a general right of the public to make use of the blocked pathway is a question [to be] determined by rules of real property law, not the Open Shorelines Act.
William S. McConnell
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to

Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email