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Golden Resorts Gets Permission to Build at Great Pond

Jan. 13, 2005 – Golden Resorts' Paul Golden Wednesday was granted a Major Coastal Zone Permit "to construct a six-story, 605 room hotel (434 rooms first phase and 171 rooms second phase) and casino resort on approximately 297 acres" in the Great Pond area. The project will include a golf course, a restaurant, an access road and parking.
The Board of Land Use Appeals granted the permit after hearing an appeal from Golden concerning actions of the Committee of the Coastal Zone Management Commission.
In its decision granting the permit, the board said CZM had "abused its discretion and acted arbitrarily and capriciously."
The CZM last May had given Golden the permit because the committee could not get a quorum to take any other action. However, the committee subsequently decided to fight the granting of the permit. In meetings during the summer the CZM came up with new conditions for Golden to meet before the permit would be granted.
To justify its new stance, CZM claimed it was not required to act on Golden's request in a timely fashion because there had once been an extension granted on a hearing date.
The board's decision called the "reliance" on this theory by the CZM "misplaced." The board also stated, "Subsequent decisions by the Committee to authorize or deny the same permit after the initial approval was without statutory authority."
The board had indicated at the end of September that it would be granting a permit to Golden. What has remained in question were what conditions the board would require Golden to fulfill.
The permit lists more than 50 general and special conditions that must be met. Most of the conditions appear to be those that would apply to any major construction.
However, some of the conditions do appear to coincide with requests made by CZM committee members at the meetings subsequent to the May meeting.(See "Golden Gets Permit Again, But With Conditions").
Golden is required to submit copies of completed drawings for approval by CZM and the board before construction can begin.
Golden is to regularly monitor the area for erosion and possible contamination of the sea, the Great Pond and the water table.
Golden must "provide vegetative screening between the resort and the western boundary of Great Pond." Golden must "educate guests of the resort on reducing water use" and must fully implement a "turtle protection plan" and a "water quality monitoring plan."
The resort must also provide "direct and unimpeded access to the beach for local residents via a dedicated public access route. There shall be no physical or psychological barriers to entry."
The issuance of the permit comes less than two weeks after the V.I. Public Finance Authority approved an extension for Golden Resorts.(See "Golden Gaming, Carifest Get Extensions for Financing").
This was the third, six-month extension since it first approached the PFA for financial support.
In March of 2003, the PFA, chaired by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, approved a resolution issuing $41 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds as a way of encouraging the owner of Golden Resorts to build a convention center for St. Croix as part of his planned casino and resort complex.
Golden Resorts attorney Treston Moore said the extension was necessary because of delays in the permitting process.
The issuing of the bonds is contingent on Golden Resorts obtaining other financial commitments before the extension runs out.
The Board of Land Use Appeals' decision was signed by Elton Chongasing, acting chairman.
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