May 28, 2009 — The Senate Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection this week approved a bill that could change the legislative process of Coastal Zone Management permits involving the development or occupancy of trust lands or other submerged or filled lands.
According to current Virgin Islands Code, once a CZM permit is approved it is forwarded to the governor for approval or disapproval. The governors approval must then be ratified by the Legislature or, if the Legislature is not in session, the Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection.
Wednesday the committee approved Senator Shawn-Michael Malone Malones bill eliminating the committee from the equation. This would ensure that all matters concerning ratification of coastal zone permits be brought before the entire Senate. When the current law was passed, he said, the Senate only met once a year but they are now required to meet four times a year.
There is no reason for a committee to have that kind of influence, Malone said, Seven people should not be the final arbiters of those major decisions. Of those seven votes, only four are needed for the permit to be ratified.
The bill will now be sent to the Rules and Judiciary Committee and then the full Senate for approval.
The committee also ratified three CZM permits:
— Minor Coastal Zone Management Permit CZT-17-08W, which allows the continued occupancy of a finger pier measuring 57 feet by 6.5 feet and the construction of two 20=foot by 3-foot finger piers and occupancy of 1,000 feet of mooring area located seaward of Parcel 8-1 Estate Orkanshullet on Hassel Island. Essence Property applied for the permit and was assessed a fee of $4,800 annually.
— Major Coastal Zone Management Permit CZT-02-03W, which allows the continued use and occupancy of an existing wooden dock measuring 80 feet by 5 feet. The dock is situated seaward of Parcel No. 28, Estate Nadir, in Benner Bay. Carmen Ruan applied for the permit renewal and was assessed a fee of $1,678.10 annually.
— Major Coastal Zone Management Permit CZT-01-03W, which allows the continued use of an existing wooden dock that measures 95 feet by 5 feet with a T-section located seaward of Parcel No. 43, Frydenhoj, in Benner Bay. Carmen Ruan applied for the permit renewal and was assessed a fee of $2,434.10 annually.
Ruans permits expired in 2003 but the renewal permits were not finalized by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources until 2007. There was much concern among committee members regarding the delay in the process.
It is obvious that there is a quality culture that needs to change in DPNR," said Sen. Adlah Foncie Donastorg, Jr. "Six years to renew a permit?
Committee members present were Donastorg, Sens, Carlton Ital Dowe, Malone, Patrick simeon Sprauve, Samuel Sanes, Michael Thurland, and Alvin Williams, Jr.
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