April 19, 2004 – Although some St. John residents opposed rezoning requests for apartment buildings in Pastory and a house in Rendezvous, the senators at Monday's Senate Committee of the Whole meeting in Cruz Bay appeared inclined to follow the Planning and Natural Resources Department's positive recommendations when they vote on the requests on April 26.
"You are going to be home free," Sen. Roosevelt David told the petitioners.
DPNR, after holding its own hearing on the same requests on March 18, recommended the requested rezoning for the house. But it suggested variances rather than rezoning for the apartment buildings and a shopping center.
Eric Smalls' request for rezoning from R-2 (residential low density, one and two family) to R-4 (residential medium density) so he could build apartments in a neighborhood of mostly single-family homes met hot opposition from three area residents.
Smalls had originally sought the rezoning so he could build 16 apartments on 1.5 acres; however, at the meeting, he changed his request to eight apartments on the same property. He also asked for a variance rather than rezoning, in keeping with the DPNR recommendation.
Neighbors Steve Black, Debby Hayes and Jim Hayes complained that even with a reduction in size, the project would cause traffic problems at an already dangerous intersection with Centerline Road.
However, many of the senators attacked Black for his opposition.
"To deny people the right to do what they want to do is insane," Sen. Emmett Hansen II said.
Sen. Carlton Dowe said that whenever St. Johnians want to do something, there is opposition. "Millions of dollars are going up here and they want to restrict certain individuals," he said, referring to the high cost of St. John real estate.
Other senators ripped into Black for the fact that he obtained an easement from a private landowner to build a bridge across a gut. This bridge helps alleviate some of the danger motorists face in trying to get out onto Centerline Road from the deeded estate road.
Black said that Smalls refused to contribute to the bridge's construction and, therefore, he and others who didn't contribute have no right to use the bridge and will have to continue to use the estate road.
Eulita Jacobs, a relative of Smalls who owns property in the area, said she has never seen any congestion such as that cited by Black and the Hayeses.
"People think they have the run of the place," she said, taking a swipe at Black.
Kevin Smith asked for rezoning from R-1 (residential, low density) to R-2. He had cut a deal with Nancy G. Rogers and Dominic B. Watson to help them build a house on a portion of a half-acre parcel off Gifft Hill Road. In exchange, they would sell him half the land.
While the R-1 zoning already allows two homes on a half-acre, in order for Smith to own part the property, it must be split in two. Both houses would share one driveway.
Neighbor Joan Sparling said that to allow Smith to increase the density in her neighborhood would "set a dangerous precedent." She said that if the rezoning is allowed, three homes could be built on the property. "It will overtax the carrying capacity of the steep hillside," she said.
No one opposed Guilderoy Sprauve's request for rezoning from R-1 to B-3 (business – scattered) so he can build a shopping center on Centerline Road, even though DPNR had recommended a variance instead.
"You show vision. Everything is moving east," Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd told Sprauve.
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