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CZM Looking at Changing Setbacks on Beachfront and Other Property

Dec. 14, 2005 – The tide may change on the territory's Coastal Zone Management Commission Act, CZM director Victor Somme said this week.
Somme said he will ask commission members to evaluate a change in the shoreline and salt pond setbacks. The setback now stands at 50 feet, but Somme wants the members to consider a 150-foot setback.
Somme said the matter first came up in 1992 and 1993. He said the provision was sent to the governor, but no action was taken, "for reasons unknown to me".
Harry Daniel, who owns St. John property that abuts Enighed Pond and is in the CZM area, said if the setbacks change to 150 feet, it would consume much of his property.
"It will take it to the middle of my land. One hundred and fifty feet is a lot of my property," he said.
And he said in some places, 150 feet is across the public road.
"It will become problematic for me," he said.
He said he plans to call Somme to explain the difficulty it would pose for development of his property.
Julien Harley, who chairs the St. John CZM Committee, said that he'd prefer to decide applications on a case-by-case basis.
"It depends on where it is," Harley said.
Harley said some properties don't have enough land for a 150-foot setback, but in other cases, 150 feet isn't enough.
"If you have material that doesn't absorb, 150 feet isn't enough," he said.
He said that the bigger the setback, the more protection is provided.
He also said he'd like to see much of St. John be part of what is called the first tier to better protect the natural resources. However, this would take action on the part of the Legislature.
Friends of the V.I. National Park President Joe Kessler agreed that the further back the setback the better.
He said that natural protection like seagrapes and mangroves is the best protection. When they're gone, erosion becomes a factor.
Winston Adams, who chairs the territory's CZM Commission, said he hasn't seen any proposal, so he hasn't formed any opinions yet.

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