May 9, 2007 — With Friday being the deadline for Gov. John deJongh Jr. to decide what he wants to do about a bill that gives the Sirenusa condominium development on St. John a variance to construct more units, residents weighed in Wednesday.
"Veto it," St. John resident Paul Devine said.
A St. John taxi driver who lives near the project also asked that the governor veto the bill.
The taxi driver, who didn't want to be identified, said that the four stories allowed under the variance would pose problems for Fire Services since it doesn't have a truck that can reach that height.
"If he approves it, they must come up to standard with the fire truck," he said.
Government House spokesman Jean Greaux said Wednesday that the governor has not reached a decision on the matter.
The variance bill was sent from the Legislature on April 30. The governor must approve it, veto it or take no action, which makes it a law, within 10 working days. Greaux said Sundays and holidays pushed the deadline to Friday.
The variance changes the zoning from R-2 (residential, low density) to R-3 (residential medium density) and gives the developer, Enighed Condominiums LLC, the right to add seven more units to the 40 already permitted, as well as increase the height to four stories.
Sirenusa attorney Arturo Watlington has said those seven units will be added to three buildings. Two of those buildings will have four stories, with the third having three.
The variance was approved in a last-minute move by 13 of the 14 senators on the floor at an April 17 session, despite huge opposition from residents and against the advice of the Planning and Natural Resources Department. Sen. Celestino White special-ordered the bill to the agenda in the closing minutes of the day's session.
The project has been controversial almost since its inception. In 2006, the developer started work on third stories not included in its group dwelling permit, but was stopped by DPNR. At that time, the developer claimed that it had approval for the third story, but then Planning Commissioner Dean Plaskett said at the time that Planning never received a request for a modification.
Devine said Wednesday that the developer's arrogance in issues such as the permit fiasco angered the community.
And neighbors complained many times that they suffered from rocks, mud and water flowing down the hillsides into their yards.
Residents were particularly incensed that the developer packed the Legislature building with Sirenusa employees paid to attend a March 27 Senate hearing on the matter. This left little room for residents who wanted to testify against the variance.
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.