On March 5th, 2009, a public hearing was held at Lockhart Elementary School by Coastal Zone Management regarding Mandahl Bay Holdings proposed development of Government land in Mandahl Bay. It was held at Lockhart because of the expected heavy turnout of residents likely to attend such a controversial issue would be unable to fit in the CZM conference room upstairs above the airport terminal. It was a wise decision by CZM, and hopefully the response from the testifiers at the meeting will prompt the CZM board to make another intelligent decision.
The meeting began around 6:20 pm with a presentation by Mandahl Bay Holdings outlining their plans for dredging the salt pond and channel leading in to it, building an 87 slip marina, condominiums, retail stores, restaruants, parking garage and other necessaties associated with developing a village in what is one of St. Thomas' last natural preserves. Did I mention this is on Government land? Unless I missed a testifier while on a break, in the next six hours of residents testimony not one spoke in favor of the development. From fishermen to school teachers, from nurses to realtors, from school children to senators, from retirees to lawyers from media personael to marine biologists, all found this proposal not in the best interest of the people of the Virgin Islands. Each testifier seemed to have a different reason why this project should not go forward. It was not hard to see why, when Government agencies such as DPNR's Fish and Wildlife and the US Fish and Wildlife Agency have already recommended that the application of a permit be denied. Its not hard to see why when as far back as 1992 our Govrnment declared this parcel an Area of Particular Concern an and Area of Preservaton and Restoration. As recently as Wednesday night at a hearing regarding another ill advised development proposal for Thatch Cay a senator remarked calling the Mandahl Bay Holdings proposal an embarresment!
Thank you CZM for allowing the public to share their opinions with you. Now I would ask you to follow your mission statement to manage, enhance, presevere and protect our costal resources and deny this permit. The voices of the people have shouted loud and clear. It is incumbent on you to listen.
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