March 30, 2006 – The Department of Planning and Natural Resources issued a cease-and-desist order Monday against Sirenusa, a condominium project under construction in Cruz Bay. However, Thursday the order was partially lifted by DPNR.
"Height was a big issue," Planning spokesman Jamal Nielsen said Thursday.
The original order prevented the project from any further construction, earth movement or any other construction activities because the developer's plans submitted for its group dwelling permit application were different from the plans submitted for its building permit application.
The developers are now allowed to continue building what was included in the group dwelling permit, but the order remains in place for two other buildings not included on the original group dwelling permit.
On Thursday DPNR released both the original cease-and-desist letter to Sirenusa attorney Adriane Dudley and the one allowing some of the construction to continue. Both were written by Planning Commissioner Dean C. Plaskett.
Dudley and architect William Karr did not return phone calls requesting comment. Developer Carlo Marzano of the St. Thomas-based Enighed Condominiums LLC, who spoke at a July 27, 2004, hearing on the project, also did not return a phone call requesting comment. John Standish, who is based in the St. John office, was not in the office and could not be reached for comment.
According to the latest letter to Dudley from Plaskett, Karr must submit to Planning a modified plan for the project by April 3. He said that the developer may be required to further modify the plans and/or file for a zoning change.
Plaskett wrote in his letter that in the plans submitted for the building permit, the number of buildings stood at six "Type B" and five "Type C," while in the plans submitted for the group dwelling permit, there were seven "Type B" buildings and four "Type C" buildings.
"Of greater concern is that the plans submitted to building permits for the consolidated buildings replacing the 18 'Type A' buildings are indisputably three stories," he wrote.
He said that since the area is zoned R-2, three-story buildings violate the building height requirements.
He also said there were also significant changes to the clubhouse/gym.
"These changes involved the entire development across all areas of the site and every building," Plaskett wrote.
He said that according to V.I. law, changes are permitted if the Planning Office approves.
He notes that Planning never received a request for the modification, although he infers in his letter that the developer claims it made one. However, he said if the developer doesn't get a response, it should not assume the approval is granted.
Plaskett wrote that although he "was inclined" to issue a cease-and-desist order when he first spoke to Dudley on the telephone March 24, he waited until Monday because she promised a letter acknowledging the problems indicated, voluntarily curtailing all work at the site and commencing a new public hearing process.
He said he didn't get the letter by Monday as promised, so he issued the order.
Alfred Augustin, who spoke at the 2004 hearing and lives nearby, said he fears that dirt back-filled by the developer will slide downhill into his house when a big storm occurs.
Nielsen said that residents alerted Planning to some issues about the project, which convinced DPNR to take a closer look at the matter.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.