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Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Home News Archives Bill to Maintain Historic Buildings Must Have Teeth, Realtors Say

Bill to Maintain Historic Buildings Must Have Teeth, Realtors Say

V.I. lawmakers considered a bill Tuesday aimed at ensuring the territory’s oldest and most treasured buildings and properties be maintained for future generations.
The goal of the V.I. Historic Properties and Rehabilitation Act of 2010 is twofold: to deter landholders from demolishing their historic property because of the high cost of making repairs, and to punish those who can afford to make the repairs but have refused to do so.
Sen. Louis Patrick Hill, who brought the bill before the Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection, said he had recently visited Annapolis, Md., and was impressed by the way the colonial town has been maintained. He said the territory’s historic properties are deserving of equal care.
Representatives from the V.I. Historic Preservation Commission, the St. Thomas Historical Trust and the St. Thomas Board of Realtors were on hand to applaud the bill and suggest some changes.
Speaking for the Board of Realtors, April Newland said that the bill was a long time coming, adding that she’s often been frustrated by derelict and dangerous buildings that make life difficult for the people who live around them. While acknowledging that some owners cannot afford to make necessary improvements, she said that many owners can—but don’t want to. “We need a bill that has teeth,” she said.
The board brought along attorney Brian Blaesser, an expert in development and landholding law. Blaesser suggested a few amendments to the bill – including ways to streamline it and ways to deter landholders from demolishing their properties.
Lawmakers decided to hold any vote on the bill so that they could have another discussion on St. Croix. Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone encouraged Blaesser to attend that meeting if he could.
Lawmakers Tuesday also approved a zoning permit to Christian Kjaer authorizing the continued use of a dock at Estate Nazareth in Red Hook. The issue hit a few speed bumps because lawmakers said Kjaer’s application left some questions unanswered – such as why the permit, which was submitted in 2005, was just coming before them; whether Kjaer was caught up on necessary property taxes and other fees; and whether work done on the dock will affect water quality and marine wildlife.
Kjaer’s permit also raised the question of why the Department of Planning and Natural Resources has allowed applications like Kjaer’s to sit for so long. A DPNR spokesperson acknowledged that there was a problem and said that they hope to move applications along in a more efficient manner in the future.
The vote passed with affirmatives from Sens. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Carlton Dowe, Malone, Patrick Simeon Sprauve, Michael Thurland and Alvin Williams. Sen. Craig Barshinger was present but did not vote.

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