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HomeNewsArchivesCZM HEARING TUESDAY ON VIPA'S CROWN BAY PLANS

CZM HEARING TUESDAY ON VIPA'S CROWN BAY PLANS

April 8, 2002 – The St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee will hold a public hearing on Tuesday evening on permit requests from the Port Authority to extend the Crown Bay dock and develop an adjacent commercial project.
The hearing is set for 6 p.m. in the Planning and Natural Resources Department conference room on the second level of the Cyril E. King Airport Terminal.
According to Helen Gjessing, chair of the V.I. League of Women Voters Planning and Environmental Quality Committee, "Comments will be accepted for another seven days, but only from persons who attend the hearing."
The Port Authority submitted two CZM permit applications — one for expanding the Crown Bay dock and one for constructing the retail complex — months ago. Last August, the Port Authority board entered into an agreement with two cruise lines, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, to finance and develop both aspects of the project. But last month Gov. Charles W. Turnbull announced he was instructing VIPA to call off the deal.
At its meeting last Tuesday, the Port Authority board passed a resolution that it will take on both aspects of the Crown Bay development on its own. The resolution provides that "any person or entity may submit suggestions, recommendations and/or ideas to VIPA for the broadest possible input in developing the area."
However, once this week's hearing takes place, Gjessing said, if the St. Thomas CZM committee decides to grant the permits, "that will be the end of any chances for input."
The Port Authority has submitted separate applications to the CZM for the pier expansion: CZT-3-02(W) and for the land-based commercial development CZT-4-02(L). VIPA also has submitted two Environmental Assessment Reports to accompany the two applications (CZT-3-02 for the pier expansion and CZT-4-02 for the commercial complex).
Gjessing said that both environmental reports are "dated January 2002 and do not reflect the recent change in financing and management" with the cruise lines out of the picture. Further, she said, the report for the commercial development "lacks essential details, does not address required topics, and gives the impression of being thrown together at the last minute."
Monifa Marrero, Port Authority spokeswoman, said VIPA would not be requesting that the hearing be postponed. She said it is the authority's intent to "stick to the original plans as closely as possible."
The League of Women Voters is concerned, Gjessing said, that "this project has far-reaching consequences that should be of great concern to every St. Thomian. It is all about quantity at the expense of quality. Consider the increase in traffic congestion, not only in the immediate area, but on all the mid-island roads. Consider the effects of more gift shops, carrying the same kind of merchandise as those shops that are already struggling in town, at Havensight Mall, and yet to come at Long Bay."
The West Indian Co., which operates the Long Bay dock and manages the adjacent Havensight Mall, and downtown Charlotte Amalie merchants have spoken out against the development of a Crown Bay commercial center, saying it would have a negative impact on cruise ship business at the existing venues.

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