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Conservation Group Able to Halt Golden Casino Work

Jan. 31, 2009 — V.I. Superior Court Judge Francis D'Eramo issued a temporary restraining order Friday evening to prevent Golden Resorts from earth moving in Tier One of the Coastal Zone at Great Pond on St. Croix.
The restraining order was sought by the Virgin Islands Conservation Society and marks the latest legal wrinkle in their ongoing battle with developer Paul Golden over his plans for a large resort hotel and casino by St. Croix's Great Pond. VICS has been fighting Golden's Coastal Zone Management permit in court for several years. Golden applied for his CZM permit and waited for all of 2004 for action by the CZM committee. In January 2005, the Board of Land Use Appeals (BLUA) granted the permit by default due to the CZM's failure to act.
The Virgin Islands Conservation Society filed suit in V.I. Superior Court in February of 2005, seeking to block the CZM permit. VICS attorney Andrew Simpson argued, among other things, the BLUA did not have jurisdiction to make the decision and the environmental assessment done by Golden was insufficient.
When the suit came before the court, Judge Maria Cabret ruled in favor of Golden Gaming. VICS filed a writ of review in Superior Court in 2005. It asked the court to review BLUA's decision to grant Golden a coastal zone permit. In May 2006, Cabret upheld the permit and VICS appealed.
In December 2007, an appellate panel upheld the project's major CZM permit but directed the CZM board to make further findings of fact in the case. In March of 2008, the federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld that decision. (See: http://www.onepaper.com/stcroixvi/?v=d&i=&s=News:Local&p=1206159146 Court Nixes Challenge to Golden's Zoning, Permits)
VICS contends the CZM permit issued to Golden Resorts on January 12, 2005, expired one year later because Golden Resorts did not obtain an extension of the permit from the St. Croix CZM Management Committee or the Commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources.
"By statute, only one or the other may grant an extension," Simpson said Friday.
A call to Golden was made late Friday evening for comment and a message left, but Golden was not immediately available for a response. Asked previously about the expiration date on the CZM permit, Golden had said he understood the one-year clock on the permit to start once the permit was finally declared valid by the court, as the permit did not exist until the court ruled that it did. By that argument, the permit would not expire until March.
VICs filed for a restraining order on Jan. 21 and a hearing date of Feb. 6 was set, Simpson said.
"But we got a lot of calls today from people telling us Golden was unloading a trackhoe and beginning to dig," Simpson said. The imminent activity prompted the emergency request for a temporary restraining order, which D'Eramo granted. D'Eramo intends to hold a telephone conference with the parties at 3 p.m. Monday, Simpson said.
"He will give the other side a chance to make a counter-argument and I imagine either continue the temporary restraining order until the Feb. 6 hearing or he could revoke it if he's persuaded by what Golden has to say," Simpson said.
According to Golden, the planned resort will be more than 500,000 square feet, with 400 ocean view rooms and more than 100 time-shares surrounding the large central pool. The building is currently under permit for six full stories, yet Golden said the property will be closer to eight stories when measured from the structure's base.
In addition to a 25,000-square-foot casino (the largest in the Eastern Caribbean), plans call for 16 spa treatment rooms, a full-size fitness area, a 294-acre golf course, tennis courts, four restaurants and 1,200-seat conference center.
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Jan. 31, 2009 -- V.I. Superior Court Judge Francis D'Eramo issued a temporary restraining order Friday evening to prevent Golden Resorts from earth moving in Tier One of the Coastal Zone at Great Pond on St. Croix.
The restraining order was sought by the Virgin Islands Conservation Society and marks the latest legal wrinkle in their ongoing battle with developer Paul Golden over his plans for a large resort hotel and casino by St. Croix's Great Pond. VICS has been fighting Golden's Coastal Zone Management permit in court for several years. Golden applied for his CZM permit and waited for all of 2004 for action by the CZM committee. In January 2005, the Board of Land Use Appeals (BLUA) granted the permit by default due to the CZM's failure to act.
The Virgin Islands Conservation Society filed suit in V.I. Superior Court in February of 2005, seeking to block the CZM permit. VICS attorney Andrew Simpson argued, among other things, the BLUA did not have jurisdiction to make the decision and the environmental assessment done by Golden was insufficient.
When the suit came before the court, Judge Maria Cabret ruled in favor of Golden Gaming. VICS filed a writ of review in Superior Court in 2005. It asked the court to review BLUA's decision to grant Golden a coastal zone permit. In May 2006, Cabret upheld the permit and VICS appealed.
In December 2007, an appellate panel upheld the project's major CZM permit but directed the CZM board to make further findings of fact in the case. In March of 2008, the federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld that decision. (See: http://www.onepaper.com/stcroixvi/?v=d&i=&s=News:Local&p=1206159146 Court Nixes Challenge to Golden's Zoning, Permits)
VICS contends the CZM permit issued to Golden Resorts on January 12, 2005, expired one year later because Golden Resorts did not obtain an extension of the permit from the St. Croix CZM Management Committee or the Commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources.
"By statute, only one or the other may grant an extension," Simpson said Friday.
A call to Golden was made late Friday evening for comment and a message left, but Golden was not immediately available for a response. Asked previously about the expiration date on the CZM permit, Golden had said he understood the one-year clock on the permit to start once the permit was finally declared valid by the court, as the permit did not exist until the court ruled that it did. By that argument, the permit would not expire until March.
VICs filed for a restraining order on Jan. 21 and a hearing date of Feb. 6 was set, Simpson said.
"But we got a lot of calls today from people telling us Golden was unloading a trackhoe and beginning to dig," Simpson said. The imminent activity prompted the emergency request for a temporary restraining order, which D'Eramo granted. D'Eramo intends to hold a telephone conference with the parties at 3 p.m. Monday, Simpson said.
"He will give the other side a chance to make a counter-argument and I imagine either continue the temporary restraining order until the Feb. 6 hearing or he could revoke it if he's persuaded by what Golden has to say," Simpson said.
According to Golden, the planned resort will be more than 500,000 square feet, with 400 ocean view rooms and more than 100 time-shares surrounding the large central pool. The building is currently under permit for six full stories, yet Golden said the property will be closer to eight stories when measured from the structure's base.
In addition to a 25,000-square-foot casino (the largest in the Eastern Caribbean), plans call for 16 spa treatment rooms, a full-size fitness area, a 294-acre golf course, tennis courts, four restaurants and 1,200-seat conference center.
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.