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Dock Permit for Maritime School Delayed Over Payment Issue

April 8, 2008 — A senate committee Tuesday delayed approval of a permit to extend the use of a dock in Christiansted for the Jones Maritime Sailing School, pending payment of permit fees.
The Coastal Zone Management division of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) recommended approval of the permit. The Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee tabled the matter at its hearing Tuesday.
Sen. Usie Richards wants DPNR to set and collect permit fees on the dock — which were not collected over the last several years — before the permit gets approved. But Kimberly Jones of Jones Maritime said she tried to pay the fees and was told to wait until after the permit was approved.
"Wherever the fault may lie," Richards said, "we are here to do the people's business and we have got to stop the leeway. We've got a problem at Gallows Bay with submerged land that has been unaddressed for 20 or 30 years. If we tell you it is OK, what do we tell them?"
Expressing support for the permit were Sen. Alvin Williams, who chairs the committee, and Sens. Norman Jn Baptiste and Carmen Wesselhoft. They argued that Jones Maritime is a good corporate citizen that does admirable charitable work and has every intention of paying.
"Simply because a government agency failed to perform its duties, we should not penalize a customer," Jn Baptiste said.
Richards introduced the motion to table the permit twice. The first time it failed on a tie vote.
Voting yes were Sens. Richards, Weber and Juan Figueroa-Serville. Voting against tabling the permit were Sens. Jn Baptiste, Wesselhoft and Williams. Sen. Celestino White was absent.
While the tie vote meant the motion to table the permit application failed, it also suggested a likely tie vote on approving the permit, which would then also fail. Richards elaborated on his reasoning and emphasized the dock will continue to operate during the interim, and its business should be unaffected.
He moved to have his earlier motion reconsidered. This time, the motion to reconsider and the motion to table the permit passed. With both motions, Richards, Figueroa-Serville and Weber voted yea. Wesselhoft voted nay. Williams and Baptiste abstained. White was absent.
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