82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 7, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesV.I. Zoning Code Goes Under the Microscope

V.I. Zoning Code Goes Under the Microscope

Dec. 1, 2008 — A small turnout on St. Thomas Monday greeted planners conducting a study of the territory's regulations for land use.
The V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources commissioned the $35,000 study of the current zoning and subdivision code. DPNR contracted with the Center for Government Services in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Police at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
Two planners outlined the assessment process for the audience and facilitated discussion about planning and zoning from audience members: Stuart Meck, a faculty fellow and director of the Center for Government Services, and Marya Morris, a consultant with Duncan Associates of Chicago.
Meck and Morris began the review three months ago with an extensive review of zoning code and related regulations. They read the 210 pages of existing code, as well as reviews, reports and studies, including background involving failed 2004 legislation aimed at overhauling the code. They also reviewed the appeals process.
Much of the code contains dated language, and shares a flaw common to many codes — it lacks consistency, Morris said.
"It must be written in plain English," she said. "We look at it in terms of what would we do if our mothers were to read this."
Some early suggestions after the initial read were to include tables and charts.
The current step in the assessment involves community participation. The planners are now interviewing a number of individuals familiar with local zoning code and related processes.
The interviews conducted Monday on St. Thomas began at 9 a.m. and were followed by an open meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the DPNR conference room at the Cyril E. King Airport.
Interview subjects were selected from a variety of backgrounds, according to Marjorie Hendricksen Emanuel, acting director of DPNR's planning division.
Monday's meeting brought out only 14 people on St. Thomas.
Similar interviews and meetings will be held on St. John on Tuesday, with another public meeting Tuesday night from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Ursula's multipurpose room and on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on St. Croix at the Florence William's Public Library in Christiansted.
Some audience members questioned DPNR's selection of interview subjects. By including architects and engineers who deal regularly with zoning-code regulations, they would get insight into the process from a professional standpoint, said architect Brian Emerich.
Planners heard audience recommendations for a comprehensive water- and land-use plan that would consider all parts of the island, whether it was coastal or upland.
"There is a direct relationship between the hillsides and coastal areas," said Jason Budsan of the Environmental Association of St. Thomas. "It needs to have the ability to look at a land- and water-use plan. Right now we are at a standstill. There needs to be a board or commission that is separate from the political [one] that we face all the time."
Other audience recommendations included the need for a documented universal vision of what planning and development policy should create for the islands 40 years from now.
The planners brought up the possibility of a commission that would have broad jurisdiction over planning issues.
Meck pointed out that the territory doesn't have existing entities for advising the legislature, and such a commission would have department staff members to advise them on zoning and other policy issues.
"If you had an entity that handles highly technical debates but [also] had a policy-advisory function, [it would be] easy to create," Meck said.
Ultimately the planners will produce a report summarizing each code section and grade it, based on best practices, with comments on specific sections. They will also offer a list of recommendations and options for reforming the code.
The draft report will be available for comment.
"Some parts of the code are out of whack," said an attendee who did not wish to be identified. "It has to be updated because it is outdated."
Morris agreed.
"It can't be expected to adequately regulate the kind of development that the islands are experiencing in this generation," Morris said.
One clear message that came from the interviews so far was one of frustration with the absence of a clear set of land-use policies in the territory, according to Meck.
"There is not much to go on as far as policy, and that is what creates the ad-hoc decision making and the lack of confidence" of the populace in the system, Morris said.
There is also a need to conserve land and somehow allow people to capture the value of their property, Morris said.
One area where the planners expected more feedback was on the operations side of the code.
"We didn't get a lot of comments about the questions we raised that dealt with terms and standards and definitions," Meck said. "We didn't get substantive comment on that."
The planners welcome comments on the zoning code and regulations, but noted that they need to receive comments in the next two weeks. Please submit comments via emailor call Stuart Meck at 732-932-3640, ext. 640.
Back Talk 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,753FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
Dec. 1, 2008 -- A small turnout on St. Thomas Monday greeted planners conducting a study of the territory's regulations for land use.
The V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources commissioned the $35,000 study of the current zoning and subdivision code. DPNR contracted with the Center for Government Services in the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Police at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.
Two planners outlined the assessment process for the audience and facilitated discussion about planning and zoning from audience members: Stuart Meck, a faculty fellow and director of the Center for Government Services, and Marya Morris, a consultant with Duncan Associates of Chicago.
Meck and Morris began the review three months ago with an extensive review of zoning code and related regulations. They read the 210 pages of existing code, as well as reviews, reports and studies, including background involving failed 2004 legislation aimed at overhauling the code. They also reviewed the appeals process.
Much of the code contains dated language, and shares a flaw common to many codes -- it lacks consistency, Morris said.
"It must be written in plain English," she said. "We look at it in terms of what would we do if our mothers were to read this."
Some early suggestions after the initial read were to include tables and charts.
The current step in the assessment involves community participation. The planners are now interviewing a number of individuals familiar with local zoning code and related processes.
The interviews conducted Monday on St. Thomas began at 9 a.m. and were followed by an open meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the DPNR conference room at the Cyril E. King Airport.
Interview subjects were selected from a variety of backgrounds, according to Marjorie Hendricksen Emanuel, acting director of DPNR's planning division.
Monday's meeting brought out only 14 people on St. Thomas.
Similar interviews and meetings will be held on St. John on Tuesday, with another public meeting Tuesday night from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at St. Ursula's multipurpose room and on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on St. Croix at the Florence William's Public Library in Christiansted.
Some audience members questioned DPNR's selection of interview subjects. By including architects and engineers who deal regularly with zoning-code regulations, they would get insight into the process from a professional standpoint, said architect Brian Emerich.
Planners heard audience recommendations for a comprehensive water- and land-use plan that would consider all parts of the island, whether it was coastal or upland.
"There is a direct relationship between the hillsides and coastal areas," said Jason Budsan of the Environmental Association of St. Thomas. "It needs to have the ability to look at a land- and water-use plan. Right now we are at a standstill. There needs to be a board or commission that is separate from the political [one] that we face all the time."
Other audience recommendations included the need for a documented universal vision of what planning and development policy should create for the islands 40 years from now.
The planners brought up the possibility of a commission that would have broad jurisdiction over planning issues.
Meck pointed out that the territory doesn't have existing entities for advising the legislature, and such a commission would have department staff members to advise them on zoning and other policy issues.
"If you had an entity that handles highly technical debates but [also] had a policy-advisory function, [it would be] easy to create," Meck said.
Ultimately the planners will produce a report summarizing each code section and grade it, based on best practices, with comments on specific sections. They will also offer a list of recommendations and options for reforming the code.
The draft report will be available for comment.
"Some parts of the code are out of whack," said an attendee who did not wish to be identified. "It has to be updated because it is outdated."
Morris agreed.
"It can't be expected to adequately regulate the kind of development that the islands are experiencing in this generation," Morris said.
One clear message that came from the interviews so far was one of frustration with the absence of a clear set of land-use policies in the territory, according to Meck.
"There is not much to go on as far as policy, and that is what creates the ad-hoc decision making and the lack of confidence" of the populace in the system, Morris said.
There is also a need to conserve land and somehow allow people to capture the value of their property, Morris said.
One area where the planners expected more feedback was on the operations side of the code.
"We didn't get a lot of comments about the questions we raised that dealt with terms and standards and definitions," Meck said. "We didn't get substantive comment on that."
The planners welcome comments on the zoning code and regulations, but noted that they need to receive comments in the next two weeks. Please submit comments via emailor call Stuart Meck at 732-932-3640, ext. 640.
Back Talk 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.