The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday approved two nominees to the Coastal Zone Management Commission, bringing the St. Thomas membership to its full complement.
Austin "Babe" Monsanto was a reappointment, and Robert Mathes is a first-time appointee to the commission but no stranger to Virgin Islands government.
Mathes has had a 24-year career with local government beginning in 1973 as planning director of the then-Conservation and Cultural Affairs department, and including a term as Licensing and Consumer Affairs commissioner.
Committee Chairwoman Violet Anne Golden apologized to Mathes for not being invited with several other nominees last month through a lapse in scheduling.
Monsanto, a native St. Thomian, is a well-known figure in community activities as well as local government. He was marine manager for the V.I. Port Authority for 14 years, though many remember him as a teacher at Charlotte Amalie High School or as a National Park ranger where he served for eight years before moving to V.I. government. He has served on the CZM board since 1994.
Monsanto and Mathes both share a concern brought up at last month's CZM nominations by nominees J. Brion Morrisettte and Anthon Winston Adams.
All agree that current CZM laws which specify a tier 1 and tier 2 designation should be changed. Tier 1 applies to land seaward from a boundary, and tier 2 applies to landward.
As Morrissette put it last month, "Everything that happens in tier 2 applies to tier 1–it's the law of gravity."
Monsanto said zoning is the main problem.
"If we eliminated the two tiers it would ensure fair zoning regulations and serve the entire community," he explained. Sen. Gregory Bennerson mentioned a land and water use plan that may be in Sen. Allie-Allison Petrus' office. Bennerson said it could go a long way toward resolving zoning disputes, and Monsanto agreed.
Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole mentioned getting a CZM permit for work that needs to be done immediately in the Nadir area–the subject of a hearing Wednesday evening–and Monsanto said he'd go out and take a look at the area tomorrow.
The CZM consists of 15 members: five from each island, plus two officials who serve ex-officio, without votes.
In April, the governor reappointed Monsanto to a two-year term on the commission and appointed Mathes. Their nominations were approved unanimously, and will now go the full Senate for final confirmation. Voting were Golden, Bennerson and Sens. Vargrave Richards, Almando "Rocky" Liburd, Judy Gomez and Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg.

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