March 14, 2006 – Changes in ownership coupled with bureaucratic confusion has left the Westin Resort and Villas without a valid major Coastal Zone Management permit for its dock. Additionally, the resort never had a permit for 11 sand screws installed to moor the hotel's water toys in Great Cruz Bay, St. John.
This information came to light at a CZM public hearing held Tuesday at the Legislature to hear the Westin's request for the appropriate permits and a permit to dredge an area at the dock that has been filled in by propeller wash.
The resort's architect, Theresa Roberts, outlined the sequence of events that led to the current situation.
She said that eight years into a 10-year permit for the dock, the resort was sold. A new CZM permit was issued to the Westin, but it was never ratified by the Legislature.
"I cannot explain why or how this happened," she said.
She said the Westin continued to pay nearly $60,000 a year for the permit.
CZM director Victor Somme III suggested that the permit was not voted on by the Legislature sitting at that time. He said permit applications are not passed on to the next Legislature, a fact apparently unknown to the applicant.
Roberts said the Legislature couldn't even locate the file.
Other than people affiliated with the Westin, only one person testified at the hearing. Larry Best, who lives on his boat in Great Cruz Bay, complained that the resort's water toys take up too much beach and water space.
"They take up the water and deny the public the right to use the beach," Best said, adding that dredging will exacerbate the situation.
Amy Dempsey of BioImpact said the resort plans to dredge 650 cubic yards of material from around the dock. The dock is 180 feet long by 12 feet wide. It has a tee that is 100 feet long and 12 feet wide.
"This is going back to the way it was when the dock was designed," she said.
The dredged material will be placed on a barge to drain before being trucked to an area near the Westin's villas, located across the road from the main resort.
The material will then be covered until the Westin uses it for construction projects.
Somme read a list of concerns that the Westin needs to address before the CZM makes its decision at an April 12 meeting at the Legislature building, which begins at 6 p.m.
In citing the list of concerns, he said the Westin needs to explain more fully how the use of the water toys will not impact the turtle nests seasonally located along the shore and whether the water toys will hamper public access to the shoreline.
He also asked if the Westin has an approved Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure plan if petroleum products are handled at the dock.
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