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HomeNewsArchivesCZM Committee Approves Water Modifications for Calabash Boom Development

CZM Committee Approves Water Modifications for Calabash Boom Development

Feb. 22, 2007 — During a meeting of the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee Thursday, Reliance Housing Services got approval for modification of a permit to build 72 affordable-housing units at Calabash Boom.
"It's unanimous," Chairman Julien Harley said after the vote. The committee made the decision with no discussion other than hearing recommendations from its staff.
To generate potable water for the project, the permit originally included provisions for reverse-osmosis-plant intake and discharge lines. The modification eliminates that portion of the permit. Instead, Reliance will depend on wells and rain water collected in cisterns to supply the needs of residents.
The CZM Committee imposed routine conditions, but this modification also mandates that Reliance start work within a year or the permit will be considered null and void. Once the paperwork is done, the CZM's actions also lift the cease-and-desist order imposed Jan. 16 by the Planning and Natural Resources Department, CZM Committee member Madaline Sewer said after the meeting.
The cease-and-desist order was issued because Reliance didn't have a U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permit, and failed to submit a spill-contingency control plan and water-and-air quality certificates. With the removal of the requirement for reverse-osmosis intake and discharge lines, the modified permit eliminates the need for the Army Corp permit. Additionally, Reliance no longer needs the water-quality certificate.
The St. John CZM Committee agreed Jan. 26 to uphold the cease-and-desist order until Reliance got the modification for its permit.
While Reliance jumped this hurdle, it remains under a temporary restraining order imposed in January by Chief District Court Judge Curtis Gomez after an ad hoc group, the Friends of Coral Bay, went to court to stop the project.
St. Thomas attorney Treston Moore, who represented Reliance, said the cease-and-desist order expires Saturday, but that the developer has no plans to move forward with the project until he consults with the judge. However, he said, the project is behind schedule.
Alan Smith, a St. Thomas attorney who lives on St. John and once served as Planning and Natural Resources commissioner, represents Friends of Coral Bay. He said he did not know what the group's next move would be.
"We have some legal and administrative actions," he said.
Tests show that Calabash Boom won't be able to generate enough water for its residents using just rainwater and wells, Smith said. He also took issue with the CZM's refusal to take testimony at the meeting. "It's procedurally inappropriate," he said.
CZM rules and regulations indicate that any request to modify a major permit should be considered a new application, which would allow for public testimony, Smith said.
But when the meeting began, Planning Commissioner-designee Robert Mathes ruled that removing the water portion of the permit was not a substantial modification, so a public hearing was not required, Harley said.
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