April 12, 2006 — Despite reservations expressed by one of the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee members, all four present at its Wednesday meeting approved a major permit to allow the Westin Resort and Villas to dredge the area around the hotel's dock.
"The bay is pretty much devoid of marine life around the dock," CZM Committee member Gerald Hills said.
Hills, along with Madeline Sewer, Andrew Penn, and Edmond Roberts voted in favor of the dredging permit. Chairman Julien Harley was absent.
Hills previously said he would accept the staff recommendation that the committee members approve the permit.
The permit now goes to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull. He then sends it to the Legislature for its approval.
Westin officials say they need to dredge 650 cubic yards of sand from around its dock because propeller wash from ferries using the dock have filled in the area.
The hotel also amended its original request to install 23 sand screws for water toys. The hotel's architect, Theresa Roberts, said it wants a permit only for the existing 11.
The hotel did not have a permit for the sand screws because its previous request got lost in a bureaucratic shuffle. CZM Director Victor Somme III said that a previous Legislature failed to ratify the permit before its term ended. He said the subsequent Legislature could not act on that request. However, he said that the Westin continued to pay for the permit.
The CZM attached several conditions that included obtaining a water quality certificate. Roberts said the Westin had already complied.
Additionally, the conditions require that the Westin get rid of the dredged spoils within 60 days.
All four members of the committee present also approved another request from the Westin to modify its existing hotel permit so it could convert seven buildings to timeshares, expand the pool deck, build a guardhouse and modify the kitchen at the pool bar.
Roberts said the resort also needs to build a cistern so it can install sprinklers at the buildings converted to timeshares, but the committee agreed to not to take up the need for a cistern because the application did not provide enough information.
"Information on size and capacity is not conveyed in the application," Somme said.
Instead, the Westin will have to apply for another modification to cover the cistern.
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