Chocolate Hole LLC found itself in a world of hurt Tuesday, when construction on its gas station appeared to have destabilized a nearby road.
The company faces fines of $5,000 to $10,000 for undermining the road above while excavating land for its new 24-hour gas station and convenience store, Planning and Natural Resources spokesman Jamal Nielsen said Tuesday.
“Salem has been warned on several occasions,” Nielsen said, referring to owner Nedal Salem.
Planning staff visited the site Tuesday, found the violations and helped Salem “secure the site,” Nielsen said. He said that the staff will soon issue a “findings of fact” and determine how much the fine should be.
He added that Salem was given “some direction” as to how to build a retaining wall.
Salem denied he had any problems with the excavation, and said he was currently working on constructing the retaining wall, Tuesday.
“Our priority is to put it up,” he said.
He said the gas station should open in about eight months.
The gas station project is sandwiched between Southside Road and a road through the Power Boyd neighborhood. It sits next to a small shopping center that’s home to St. John Market in an area locally called Great Cruz Bay. Officially, it’s Chocolate Hole.
According to Nielsen, Planning’s Building Permits Division issued a stop work order on June 7, because the severity of the cut into the hillside to make way for the gas station was done in an unsafe manner. Nielsen said Salem corrected the problem and work continued.
After heavy rains on Aug. 31, the department issued another stop work order and told Salem he had to develop a plan to mitigate erosion and redesign the retaining wall.
“The plan was developed and the stop work order lifted,” Nielsen said.
On Nov. 21, a “significant” portion of the property above fell into the construction site, resulting in the latest problem for Salem.
The project was unpopular with some residents who turned out in the fall of 2010 for public meetings on the matter. The main issue was the impact on business at a nearby market and a gas station, as well as safety issues when fuel trucks travel on the very steep Jacob’s Ladder to reach the new gas station.
Currently, St. John has only one gas station. It’s located in Cruz Bay. No one at the meetings disputed the need for another one, but some people said they preferred putting one at the other end of the island in the Coral Bay area.
Another gas station is in the works at Estate Adrian on Centerline Road.