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Rezoning Requested for Mental Health Facility

Dec. 7, 2004 – If the Health Department gets the rezoning it requested on Monday, the island would have a 32-bed long-care residential facility, managed by the Division of Mental Health.
James G. Bernier, DOH engineering director, told a hearing of the Division of Comprehensive Coastal Zone Management Monday, "The unit would augment the division's recently renovated Eldra Schulterbrandt Residential facility, which is located on the same property."
The DOH is asking that Parcel 6-A, about 2.18 acres currently zoned R-2 residential, be rezoned to P, public. The rezoning would allow for a new 10,334-square-foot facility.
Phyllis Wallace, DOH deputy commissioner, said, "This has been a long-standing project. It will be a state-of-the-art facility on government land."
Wallace said the facility would "have a beautiful view, and the grounds would tend to be therapeutic, with a healing garden and areas for recreation." She said also that the facility would allow mental patients to come home from hospitals in Puerto Rico and on the mainland.
"It is a testament to the department's interest in our patients," Wallace said. "We at the Department of Health have made mental health a priority, and this is proof of that," she said.
Bernier displayed architectural drawings of the proposed facility prepared by Jaredian Design Group. Answering questions from the CZM staff, Bernier said there is a sewer line on the property, though they may have to bring in another water line.
The group also heard a request from Sunshine Investors for a zoning change on three parcels of land in Estate Ross from R-2 residential low density to B-3 business, scattered.
Roger Minkoff, the company's agent, said there is a need in the area for more office space. The approximate seven-acre portion of the area is on a hill across the street from Barbel Plaza.
He said the V.I. Housing Authority has endorsed the project's concept.
If the zoning is approved, Minkoff said there would be a several 35,000-square-foot buildings and some 13,000-square-foot buildings, as well as residences which Sunshine would either lease, or build-to-suit for clients.
In answer to questions by Helen Gjessing, Minkoff said storm runoff specifications are not included in the present plans, but will be submitted. The project is locally owned, he said, by Horace Callwood and Raymond Francis, both of whom were in the audience.
The division will now submit a report on the zoning changes with recommendations to the Legislature, said CZM senior planner, Susan Higgins, who conducted the hearing.

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