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Golden Gets Permit Again, But With Conditions

Sept. 29, 2004 – In what seems likes a bureaucratic circle, the Golden Resorts development project is back where it was on May 26.
The Board of Land Use Appeals Tuesday night reversed a reversal by the Costal Zone Management Committee.
The committee had stated in May that a permit to build a 605-room hotel, casino, conference center and golf course at Great Pond Bay by Paul Golden was approved by default because the committee did not have a quorum to rule on the permit within the allotted time.
However, the committee decided in July that because of extenuating circumstances, there was no need to have issued the permit by default. Attorneys for Golden countered by taking the issue to court, but a judge refused to grant the developer's request to circumvent the CZM process and grant the permit. (See "Judge: Golden Gaming Must Adhere to Permit Process".)
Attorney Kevin Rames, who has been representing Golden through the process, said Wednesday, "Golden Resorts is very pleased to void the July and August decisions and return to May 26 when the St. Croix Coastal Zone Management Committee declared that Golden had its permit."
However, it not quite clear that there will be a direct return to the May 26th decision.
In the August meeting, CZM staff read a staff report stating the Golden application was missing information. Among the things lacking, it said, were a traffic study, bore samples from the ground, an analysis of the impact of the development on possible erosion, and analysis of the effect of the development on ocean water and the water in Great Pond.(See CZM Committee: Golden Application Lacks Key Data ).
The board of appeals is asking both parties to submit information within 15 days to the board so it can determine what conditions will be attached the permit.
Rames said he believed the conditions would be drawn from three areas – applicable law, Golden's original application and expressed concerns by DPNR staff.
CZM committee member Christian "Ollie" Christensen had also expressed concern at the August meeting that plans for the golf course had not been submitted to the committee. The development is proposed in two stages. The golf course would not be in the first stage. However, Christensen said that based on precedent the commission should look at the "entire project."
The project has many supporters who think it will bring the economic development St. Croix needs. However, others question its affect on the environmentally sensitive area around Great Pond.
Rames said Wednesday the $150 million project was now on an "ASAP schedule."
Almost a year has passed since Golden Resorts submitted its first application.
Phone calls to CZM's St. Croix office were not returned on Wednesday.
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