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Senate Committee OKs Thatch Cay Project

March 27, 2009 — After taking a two-week hiatus, the Senate's Planning and Environmental Protection Committee rose out of recess for about 45 minutes Friday to give the green light to development on Thatch Cay.
Voting to ratify the project's major Coastal Zone Management permit were Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Sammuel Sanes, Patrick Simeon Sprauve, Michael Thurland and Alvin L. Williams.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg cast the dissenting vote, while Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone was absent.
The committee's mammoth six-hour hearing on March 11 had left the final decision up in the air, with Williams banging the gavel at midnight and calling for a recess after several rounds of emotional testimony and heated debate between both senators and the throng of community members that showed up to speak. Having a two-part hearing would give any residents or senators who couldn't make it another chance to sound off on the project, Williams said later (See "Senate Committee Fails to Vote on Thatch Cay Development").
Several more residents showed up for Friday's hearing, but Williams said he wouldn't be hearing any more testimony since the issue had been vetted three times. The committee didn't need to "go through another 12 hours" of back-and-forth discussion, he said after the hearing. Williams made the motion to approve the project around 10:40 p.m., stopping debate after only one quick round.
The committee's decision was expected, but the final blow came down fast, residents said later. Most of the crowd stood around for at least 15 minutes after the hearing talking the project over with various senators and asking them to explain their decision.
Opposition to the project has run the gamut from environmental to legal concerns, centering, among other things, on the protection of the cay's dense marine ecosystems and complying with specific sections of the local CZM statute. While local residents have argued against putting a development on a "pristine and untouched cay," the Legislature's legal counsel asserted that the property's current R-1 (residential low-density) designation doesn't allow for facilities such as a proposed reverse osmosis plant, fuel storage areas and a 300-foot docking and barge landing facility.
Hill — who is not a member of the Planning and Environmental Committee — continued the fight Friday, saying that senators shouldn't send a message that the territory's cays are open for development.
But many other senators called the project "impressive" and environmentally sensitive.
The project is expected to unfold in a series of phases stretched out over a decade to make sure certain "environmental commitments" are met, according to developer Paul Lange. Thatch Cay's development team is trying to make sure some or all of the development is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, which means a series of ecological-construction standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Ultimately, the perimeter around the shoreline would stay green, and the development would include a marine sanctuary and allow continued public access to the key, according to architect Robert deJongh.
"I have spoke on the record about the type of green projects that we have to attract here, and this is one of them that has paid into becoming part of a system that would rate the plan they have put together," Thurland said during the hearing. "It could be what we're looking at here to measure future development in the area."
The final project was the end result of hard work and thorough planning, deJongh said after the hearing.
"We're very excited," Lange added. "We worked very diligently and for a long time to put together a project that's environmentally sensitive. So, this is a great moment for us, and I'm really proud to be part of the team."
Present during Friday's hearing were Donastorg, Dowe, Sanes, Sprauve, Thurland, Celestino A. White Sr. and Williams.
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March 27, 2009 -- After taking a two-week hiatus, the Senate's Planning and Environmental Protection Committee rose out of recess for about 45 minutes Friday to give the green light to development on Thatch Cay.
Voting to ratify the project's major Coastal Zone Management permit were Sens. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, Sammuel Sanes, Patrick Simeon Sprauve, Michael Thurland and Alvin L. Williams.
Sen. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg cast the dissenting vote, while Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone was absent.
The committee's mammoth six-hour hearing on March 11 had left the final decision up in the air, with Williams banging the gavel at midnight and calling for a recess after several rounds of emotional testimony and heated debate between both senators and the throng of community members that showed up to speak. Having a two-part hearing would give any residents or senators who couldn't make it another chance to sound off on the project, Williams said later (See "Senate Committee Fails to Vote on Thatch Cay Development").
Several more residents showed up for Friday's hearing, but Williams said he wouldn't be hearing any more testimony since the issue had been vetted three times. The committee didn't need to "go through another 12 hours" of back-and-forth discussion, he said after the hearing. Williams made the motion to approve the project around 10:40 p.m., stopping debate after only one quick round.
The committee's decision was expected, but the final blow came down fast, residents said later. Most of the crowd stood around for at least 15 minutes after the hearing talking the project over with various senators and asking them to explain their decision.
Opposition to the project has run the gamut from environmental to legal concerns, centering, among other things, on the protection of the cay's dense marine ecosystems and complying with specific sections of the local CZM statute. While local residents have argued against putting a development on a "pristine and untouched cay," the Legislature's legal counsel asserted that the property's current R-1 (residential low-density) designation doesn't allow for facilities such as a proposed reverse osmosis plant, fuel storage areas and a 300-foot docking and barge landing facility.
Hill -- who is not a member of the Planning and Environmental Committee -- continued the fight Friday, saying that senators shouldn't send a message that the territory's cays are open for development.
But many other senators called the project "impressive" and environmentally sensitive.
The project is expected to unfold in a series of phases stretched out over a decade to make sure certain "environmental commitments" are met, according to developer Paul Lange. Thatch Cay's development team is trying to make sure some or all of the development is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, which means a series of ecological-construction standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Ultimately, the perimeter around the shoreline would stay green, and the development would include a marine sanctuary and allow continued public access to the key, according to architect Robert deJongh.
"I have spoke on the record about the type of green projects that we have to attract here, and this is one of them that has paid into becoming part of a system that would rate the plan they have put together," Thurland said during the hearing. "It could be what we're looking at here to measure future development in the area."
The final project was the end result of hard work and thorough planning, deJongh said after the hearing.
"We're very excited," Lange added. "We worked very diligently and for a long time to put together a project that's environmentally sensitive. So, this is a great moment for us, and I'm really proud to be part of the team."
Present during Friday's hearing were Donastorg, Dowe, Sanes, Sprauve, Thurland, Celestino A. White Sr. and Williams.
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.