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CZM Grants Major Permit at Lovango Cay

Aug. 10, 2005 – The St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee Wednesday agreed unanimously to give the Joseph John Markus Trust a major permit for the barge-landing facility and 20-foot dock extension it has constructed at Lovango Cay. However, the trust didn't get approval for the slew of additions it requested and will have to remove a catwalk already installed along the ramp.
CZM Chairman Julien Harley said that if the committee forced the trust to rip out much of what is already in place, it would cause more damage to the environment.
When the meeting began at St. Ursula's multipurpose room, Harley said that the trust should have been required to get a major permit before any work began.
"I'm a little disappointed at the way this started out," Harley said.
In January 2002, a barge bringing construction materials to the island ripped through the coral near shore. This brought the trust's activities to the attention of CZM staff, which on March 15, 2002, issued a notice of violation because the trust failed to meet two conditions of its minor permit. Specifically, the trust failed to post a $1-million bond and neglected to hire an independent monitor.
CZM, in a letter dated Feb. 5, 2003, and signed by Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dean Plaskett, authorized the trust to build what it termed temporary barge-landing facilities and a 20-foot addition to its existing 80-foot dock. It also instructed the trust to apply for a major permit.
Harley said the committee was not happy about having to approve this permit after the work was done.
Committee member Brion Morrisette said CZM authorized a temporary barge landing, but the trust went on to pour more than 100 yards of concrete. Morrisette said that by no stretch of the imagination could the ramp be called temporary.
"The applicant has pushed the envelope in every respect," Morrisette said.
Harley said at the meeting's end that he hoped that the CZM Committee would have the chance to scrutinize any other projects the trust plans on Lovango.
Markus, asked after the meeting if the conditions would hamper his project, had a terse reply.
"Were you and I at a different meeting? I got my permit," he said.
He called the dozen conditions imposed by the committee "minor little things."
By attaching conditions to the permit, the committee refused to allow the trust to build the additional facilities it asked for in the permit application.
The Markus trust will not be allowed to build finger piers, nor extend the concrete dock by 50 feet. The trust will also be unable to install: two mooring piles, an outer finger pier with a wave damper, eight jet ski and dinghy lifts, and a concrete ramp at the shoreward end of the barge landing. Nor can the trust add a reverse osmosis intake line to the barge catwalk.
The trust also cannot fuel vessels at the barge-landing facility, but can bring in fuel via a barge and trucks.
The trust needs to provide an air quality certificate as a permit condition and submit all documents pertaining to the permit within two weeks of its approval.
The conditions also specify that "no other work is allowed."
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