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HomeNewsLocal news775 Petition Bryan to Veto St. Croix Spot Zoning

775 Petition Bryan to Veto St. Croix Spot Zoning

People living near the Estate Orange Grove warehouse that could soon become a concrete block plant have started an online petition urging it be put elsewhere. (Shutterstock image)

For a second time this year, residents of St. Croix are decrying a zoning change at odds with the existing land use — this time allowing heavy industry in a residential and commercial zone. At least 775 people had signed an online petition by Thursday urging Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. to veto the bill.

The Senate approved the measure April 14 against recommendations from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources that the variance not be allowed.

Arguments over this and similar plans pit economic activity against seemingly haphazard spot zoning, where neighborhoods are broken up by shopping centers and commercial corridors contend with industrial endeavors.

People living near the Estate Orange Grove warehouse that could soon become a concrete block plant argue particulate matter and carbon dioxide pollution, noise, and truck traffic associated with heavy industry could be detrimental to the surrounding neighborhood, a nearby school, and another downwind school scheduled to open.

Signers of the petition worried that allowing the zoning variance would open the door for more industrial activity in the area and signal a zoning free-for-all. Petitioners asked supporters to “Please emphasize your support for this business — in another location.”

Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. and others in favor of the plan to allow an industrial plant — opposite a shopping center, two fast food restaurants, a pharmacy, an eye specialist office, and government offices — argued people’s concerns were misplaced, that existing Water and Power Authority fuel storage was a larger concern. Francis suggested that growing up next to an industrial plant built personal character.

Some critics of the plan consider rampant spot zoning a political measure at odds with the greater good. Bryan acknowledged as much in vetoing a similar zoning variance in January, saying special interests and favoritism in zoning changes erode public trust of elected officials.

The issue then was a plan to rezone nearly 16 acres of green space wedged between several quiet St. Croix neighborhoods. The measure passed by the Senate, also against the recommendation of DPNR experts, “disgusted” people in the area who launched an online petition that ultimately gathered 916 signatures.

All this happens as the territory struggles to develop a comprehensive land and water use plan.

Owners of Just Right Trucking and Trash Removal, the company hoping to rezone the Estate Orange Grove land, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

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