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DPNR Yet to Issue Permit for Condo Development

Aug. 3, 2005 – No word yet on Atlantic Northstar's request to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources for a group dwelling permit to build condominiums on 5.5 acres at Estate Gifft and Regenback. The parcel is sandwiched between Gifft Hill Road and Fish Bay.
DPNR spokesman Jamal Nielsen said no target date has been set for a decision on the permit. He said the department is waiting for a report from the State Historic Preservation Office on the grave site located on the property.
Additionally, Nielsen said that since the developer, Atlantic Northstar, now plans to allocate four of the 36 units for affordable housing, a meeting between the architect and the Housing Finance Authority must be held.
Atlantic Northstar representative Charles McCallion said at a July 11 meeting of the Coral Bay Community Council that DPNR asked the company to scale back the number of units from 44 to 36, which it agreed to do. He said the development would be a gated community.
Atlantic Northstar took out ads in local newspapers to announce the change in the original plans.
The project is not located along the shore, which is considered the first tier, so it does not require a Coastal Zone Management permit.
McCallion said at the July 11 meeting that the company already holds a permit to build 24 single-family homes in nearby Estate Rendezvous. He said one is nearing completion, with the start of the second one planned to follow.
And he said the company recently broke ground for 15 condominium units near Lavender Hill condominiums in Cruz Bay.
McCallion did not return phone calls seeking an update.
Meanwhile, neighbors of the planned project continue to send letters to DPNR, citing their objections. "It's completely out of character with the neighborhood," St. John resident Nanci Shekleton said.
She said erosion, runoff and traffic were the main concerns, but said neighbors were also concerned about the development's effect on St. John's infrastructure.
She said neighbors sent petitions to DPNR containing 665 signatures. Nielsen put the number of signatures at between 50 and 100, but it appears that Planning has counted single-signature petitions mailed to the department. Shekleton said 85 single-signature petitions were mailed. She said the petitions with multiple signatures were faxed.
Nielsen said about 100 people signed a petition in favor of the project.
Shekleton also wondered about Atlantic Northstar's background.
The Lieutenant Governor's Office of Trademarks and Corporations lists 17 Strand St., Frederiksted, as the address for Atlantic Northstar. It has John Baldwin listed as manager.
The Washington Post, in an August 2004 article, reported that 17 Strand St., Frederiksted, is also the address for Bridge Capital. That company made news in the Washington, D.C., area when its principals, Baldwin and Shawn Scott, applied for a license to operate video lottery terminals.
The Post described Scott and Baldwin as "Las Vegas entrepreneurs who have tried for years to qualify for a license to operate a big-time gambling venture. They have had little luck, public records show. Scott, whose properties have secured financial support from Baldwin, has been denied or failed to obtain gambling licenses in five states where regulators found evidence of mismanagement, irregular accounting practices and hidden partnerships."
The Post reported Saturday that promoters of the plan to install video lottery terminals were fined Friday $622,880 by Washington election officials for violating city election laws.
The story went on to report that a campaign to bring the video lottery terminal campaign to the voters was marked by "significant and pervasive irregularities and improprieties of a magnitude never previously experienced in this jurisdiction. The illegal activities compromised, and made a mockery of, the integrity of the electoral process."
The paper reported that "the board took no action against the offshore gambling entrepreneurs who bankrolled the slots campaign and paid Pedro Alfonso, Vickey Wilcher and Margaret Gentry consulting fees to act as their local representatives. Under District law, the board wrote, the political action committee is legally responsible for the petition drive."
The story went on to say that the election's board counsel, Kenneth J. McGhie, indicated that "Shawn Scott, Rob Newell and their associates from the U.S. Virgin Islands might wind up paying the fines anyway."
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