The recent article in the Source understandably caused some alarm among people who are opposed to the mega yacht marina in Coral Bay proposed by the Summers End Group (“Bryan OKs Modified Permit for STJ Marina at Summer’s End,” March 9, 2020).
In the interest of providing additional context on this topic, I’d like to make the following points:
– The governor has no authority to modify CZM permits which have not yet been approved
In their latest attempt at sleight of hand, the Summers End Group got Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. to make changes in their marina permits in order to “fix” the problems identified by the Legislature. There is one major flaw in this however: the governor has absolutely no authority under the law to make modifications to permits which have not yet been approved. The only authority granted to the governor under CZM law is to modify permits to prevent environmental damage occurring as a result of activities of a developer.
Obviously, this illegal action by the governor will be appealed at the right time. The law is crystal clear and not open to creative reinterpretation by the governor or by anyone else.
– DPNR has no authority to issue Major CZM permits – only the CZM Committee can do that
As part of her latest gambit, Ms. Chaliese Summers, in conjunction with DPNR staff, rewrote the two CZM permits that were approved in 2014. The two permits were “consolidated” into a single document and then the chairman of the St. John CZM committee was told to sign them, without any committee review or approval. None of this is legal and all of this has been appealed to the Board of Land Use Appeals.
Summers End claims that the “consolidated permit” is not actually a CZM permit and therefore it doesn’t need to be approved by the CZM committee. However, if it isn’t a permit then it couldn’t possibly have been “modified” by the governor and it wouldn’t require ratification by the Legislature. It clearly is a permit, and ALL major CZM permits must be approved by CZM committee.
– The changes made by the governor to “fix” the permits are contrary to public safety
The changes made by the governor include major reductions in the wind strength of the marina structure, removal of stormwater management, development on private property not owned by Summers End, a 75 position mooring field which Summers End has no authority to build or operate, and development of structures that do not conform to the building or zoning code.
None of this is in the interest of public safety or environmental protection.
– If the Legislature ratifies this permit it will likely trigger property owner lawsuits
Owners of five of the seven parcels in the original marina plans have said they want nothing to do with Summers End. Neither the governor nor the Legislature can legally take private property for use in a commercial development. This is not only a violation of the Revised Organic Act, but it is also a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Just wait for the lawsuits if this is ever approved by the Legislature.
– There are currently three lawsuits and one BLUA appeal pending against Summers End
Summers End would need to prevail in three current lawsuits in Virgin Islands Superior Court, in an appeal pending in the Board of Land Use Appeals, and in any additional lawsuits that would stem from approval of the current permits. If they lose a single one of these challenges their “approved” permits are useless. And this is not to mention their Army Corps of Engineers permit which is still a long way from a decision – and the Corps most recently said that based on the information available the Army Corps permit would likely be denied as not being in the public interest.
As they are currently saying, “Be Calm and Wash Your Hands” – and maybe the stain of the Summers End Group can be removed for good.