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WORK RESUMES ON LOVANGO CAY DOCK

March 13, 2002 – Construction of a private dock on Lovango Cay resumed this week after environmental regulators lifted an order that had shut down the work after the discovery of extensive damage to a nearby coral reef.
Workers returned on Monday to the sparsely populated small island northwest of St. John, according to Tom Bolt, an attorney for the Joseph John Markus Trust, which is building a house and an 80-foot private dock on the site.
In February, Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dean Plaskett ordered a stop to construction after learning that about 8,700 square feet of coral had been damaged by barges bringing building materials to the site. Plaskett ordered a joint fine of $2.9 million against the Markus Trust and Boyson Inc., the St. John-based barge company.
Attorneys for the two companies and PNR's Coastal Zone Management Division have been negotiating a settlement of that fine. CZM officials said Wednesday that an agreement could be reached by next week.
After the government ordered the work halted, the Markus Trust posted a $1 million property bond and hired an environmental consultant recommended by CZM, thus meeting two conditions of the trust's building permits. On Friday, Plaskett indicated he was satisfied the conditions had been met and lifted the order stopping work on the dock, according to CZM documents.
Personnel from Bio-Impact Inc., an environmental consulting business hired by the Markus Trust, have been repairing the damaged coral by cementing broken pieces to the seafloor. That work is continuing, and future efforts to protect coral at the popular snorkeling and scuba diving spot are expected to be part of the agreement to settle the fine, Bolt said on Wednesday.
He said Bio-Impact workers have found coral damage in the area that appears to have been caused in the past by boaters dropping anchor. Installing new moorings in the area could address that problem, he said.

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