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DPNR OKs Townhomes Permit, Riling Residents

July 13, 2008 — The Planning and Natural Resources Department approved a group dwelling permit for Bordeaux Mountain Villas, to be built in the hills overlooking Coral Bay, and many neighbors are steaming.
The project calls for 16 luxury townhouses in four buildings on about six acres of land. Each townhouse will have four bedrooms.
Sharon Coldren, who heads the Coral Bay Community Council, responded that she was "speechless" when informed of the group dwelling permit approval.
"They're giving approval for this very questionable project after it was unanimously opposed by the local community. This is a very sad occurrence," Coldren said.
Coldren spoke about the storm water issues that may result from the project. During even moderate rain, Coral Bay turns brown from dirt running down from the hillsides.
Coldren was particularly annoyed that the permit was granted before the planner promised by Gov. John deJongh Jr. was on the job.
Planning Commissioner Robert Mathes acknowledged in a Government House press release Sunday that residents had concerns about the altering of the quality of life in the area. However, he said that Planning took precautions in the writing of the group dwelling permit to address the hours of operations, visual impacts, phasing, and road repairs.
According to the press release, the permit was agreed upon by DPNR officials and developer Bordeaux Mountain Estates after much discussion and input from the community.
"The challenge for the department was in identifying the most appropriate scale of development while balancing environmental concerns with the developer’s legal rights," Mathes said.
Bordeaux Mountain Villas owner Eric Munson, reached via cell phone in Pelham Manor, New York, said that contractors will work "normal business hours" and not on weekends.
The townhouses will occupy 8 percent of the six acres, Munson said. He said he expects construction to begin in the fourth quarter.
Residents who live near the planned project and in the area expressed shock that DPNR granted the permit over their objections.
"This is something that doesn't belong here. It's a little Sirenusa in the middle of the jungle," said Catherine Fahy, who lives in a "little blue cottage" very close to the property.
Sirenusa, along with Grande Bay, are condominium developments in Cruz Bay that also drew fierce opposition from residents.
Fahy feared that the project would take years to complete, leaving people who live below the project vulnerable to mudslides.
Gary Emmons lives a couple hundred yards from the planned development and said he was worried that construction trucks on the narrow road would lead to accidents and harm to residents who routinely walk Bordeaux's quiet roads.
"Two cars can barely pass," he said.
He called the development out of character for the neighborhood, which has one- and two-family houses with the majority on half-acre lots.
Lorelei Monsanto has a store at the Bordeaux Overlook, located adjacent to the beginning of the road into the area, and lives in the valley below the project.
"I don’t see the need for it right now," Monsanto.
With Sirenusa and Grande Bay condominium projects still under construction, Monsanto said there were enough similar projects not yet completed that another one was not needed.
Monsanto also questioned whether the V.I. Water and Power Authority would be able to carry the load generated by another new development.
"WAPA can't support what it has now," Monsanto said.
According to the press release, Phase One of the project includes earth change activity, the installation of soil retention systems and the construction of two buildings, consisting of eight town house dwelling units, a swimming pool, a pool house and parking.
The press release indicates that Post Phase One construction activity is also conditional, based upon the approval of the first phase construction. Post Phase One activity consists of the completion of the remaining two buildings, with a total of eight residential units.
The asking price for the townhouses remains uncertain.
"That's a good question. The market has obviously changed in the last four years," Munson said.
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