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Calabash Boom Builder Denies Violating CZM Permit

Jan. 23, 2007 — Reliance Housing Foundation, builders of an affordable housing project at Calabash Boom, will meet with the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee Friday to discuss a CZM cease-and-desist order issued against Reliance on Jan. 17.
CZM alleges that Reliance violated the terms of its CZM permit when it started work on the 72-unit project.
However, Reliance President Robert Jackson said in a press release issued Monday that the organization has complied with the terms of the permit. He could not be reached for further comment.
Planning and Natural Resources spokesman Jamal Nielsen said Tuesday that the meeting, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at the Legislature building, is "a legal proceeding to deal with the violation."
He added that although the public may attend, it's not a public meeting and that no testimony will be taken from the public.
Reliance also was hit with a suit filed by the Friends of Coral Bay, an ad hoc group of residents that want a temporary restraining order to stop the project. They faced off Jan. 12 in U.S. District Court; according to published reports, Chief District Court Judge Curtis Gomez will rule on the matter Friday.
Friends of Coral Bay attorney Alan Smith did not return calls requesting comment.
Regarding the CZM cease-and-desist order, Jackson said in the press release that Reliance did meet the first special CZM condition by notifying CZM two days before it began construction activities. Jackson said Reliance received a go-ahead from CZM.
Jackson said that Reliance also installed erosion- and sedimentation-control measures, as required by the permit's second special condition. He said that was the work Reliance was doing when it received the order.
He said the special conditions — such as air-quality permits and filing a spill-contingency plan — noted as violations in the order apply to equipment currently not on the site. He said they won't be on the site for many more months, but Reliance has applied for the permits.
Jackson's press release did not mention the Army Corps of Engineers permit that the cease-and-desist order indicated Reliance did not have.
Jackson said that the request for a temporary restraining order, initially filed by Friends of Coral Bay, was in connection with a reverse-osmosis plant no longer in the plans. Jackson said that when that issue was removed, the group then shifted its focus to general environmental issues.
"They appear to want to block construction of affordable housing in their neighborhood, regardless of any concessions Reliance makes," Jackson said in the release.
He said Reliance's erosion and sedimentation controls have already mitigated runoff and erosion caused by the uphill property owners, who now use an "illegal" access road. He said the "illegal" access road has no approved grading, erosion or runoff controls and discharges eroded soil and stormwater runoff onto the Reliance site and potentially into the sea.
Jackson said that Reliance is improving an adjoining road that is now in serious disrepair to provide access to uphill properties.
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