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Robin Bay Resort to Move to Senate for Vote

Architect Theresa RobertsIf the full Senate gives the OK, work should start on St. Croix’s Robin Bay Realty resort project in the first half of 2011, partner and project manager David Kagan said Friday at a Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee meeting on St. John.

The committee met June 8 to consider the resort’s major Coastal Zone Management permit but had to delay the vote because it didn’t have a quorum.

Robin Bay plans a four-phase project on St. Croix’s south shore. Phase one will include a 422-room hotel in two buildings, a 38,000-square-foot casino with 20,000 square feet of gaming space, an 18-hole golf course, and 52 time share units, Kagan said.

“We’ll spend $300 million for development in the first phase,” Kagan said.

He put the total economic benefit to the territory at $2 billion over 10 years.

The Westin Resort and Villas on St. John also got a permit to dredge near its dock and to install moorings for five more watersports toys. That permit request had languished for many years. It last had an airing before the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee in 2006. The dock was first approved in 1985 when the resort got its initial CZM permit.

While senators had only a few questions for Kagan, his Robin Bay team and CZM officials, Sen. Patrick Simeon Sprauve asked why the spill prevention plan for the operational phase of the project was not included in the CZM permit application. Architect Theresa Roberts said it was premature to have that plan in place because equipment for things like the sewage treatment plant is not yet ordered.

“We have an outline, but the specific plan will be written after we have the permits in place,” she said.

Sprauve asked her if she could have it done by the time the full Senate meets to consider Robin Bay’s CZM permit in a few weeks.

“It takes eight months to put it together. Three weeks is not practical,” Roberts said.

A spill prevention plan for the construction phase is included as part of the CZM permit, Roberts said.

Environmental consultant Amy Dempsey said that a road that currently goes right through the 618-acre Robin Bay site will be removed.

“They won’t be able to drive in there and drive over bird nests,” she said, also noting that people throw trash in the area.

In discussing the Westin CZM permit, Sen. Adlah “Foncie” Donastorg questioned the fact that the CZM failed to include a $650 reclamation fee when it negotiated the CZM permit.

“To suggest it was an oversight does not mean it was acceptable,” Donastorg said.

After discussing it, the senators agreed they would amend the permit to include the reclamation fee when it came before the full senate

Westin general manager Mike Ryan said that the Westin would pay the one-time fee. Additionally, the Westin will pay $28,000 a year for the 20-year CZM permit with a provision to change the fee in five years.

The Westin needs to dredge 650 cubic yards of sand near the dock because propeller wash from ferry boats has filled in the area.

The hotel agreed to install five boat moorings for public use, and if the Planning and Natural Resources Department wants it to, will install five more.

In addition to Sprauve and Donastorg, committee chairman Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, Sen. Sammuel Sanes and Sen. Alvin L. Williams voted to send the Robin Bay CZM permit on to the full Senate. Sen. Michael Thurland and Sen. Carlton Dowe were absent.

In voting on the Westin CZM permit, all the same senators voted yes except for Williams. He had not yet reached the meeting when the vote was taken.

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