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HomeNewsArchivesSenate Approves General Zoning Waiver for Hillside Apartments

Senate Approves General Zoning Waiver for Hillside Apartments

V.I. hillside homeowners will be allowed to build living space underneath existing structures, regardless of zoning, and those who have already built without approval will be granted amnesty if they come into compliance, if Gov. John deJongh signs a bill the Legislature passed Thursday.

The measure would recognize that many homeowners are in violation of zoning and permitting, and would provide an incentive for them to come forward and come into compliance with the rest of the zoning and building codes, according to Sen. Carlton "Ital" Dowe, who sponsored the bill along with Sen. Louis Patrick Hill.

The exemptions would apply to just residential structures, and only if they meet all parking and sewer permitting requirements. It creates a two-year amnesty from fines for those who built without approval, if they come to DPNR and come into compliance.

All but two senators voted for the bill. Barshinger said he believed the bill "appears to be special interest legislation to allow people who have previously violated building code to be exonerated," and voted against the measure. Millin-Young did not vote on the bill.

The senators also approved a bill to reserve 30 percent of the units to be built by the V.I. Housing Finance Authority in Donoe, St. Thomas, for veterans, after approving an amendment from Richards to open up the units to sale to all comers after 60 days. When the bill was considered in committee, V.I. Housing Authority Director Adrienne Williams asked for a deadline for sale to veterans, saying developers and lenders needed to sell the units quickly in order to recoup their investments and be able to lend money to VIHA again.

Several nominees to boards and commissions were approved during Thursday’s session, including: Elissa Rock Runyon, Delrease Roberts, Rohit Khiani and Adonis Morton were confirmed to the V.I. Real Estate Appraisers Board; Christie O’Neil was confirmed to the V.I. Real Estate Commission; and Robert O’Connor Jr. was confirmed for another term on the V.I. Port Authority Board.

The Legislature also approved acts:

  • establishing the University of the Virgin Islands Congressional Internship Scholarship Program;
  • transferring government-owned property next to Magens Bay to the Magens Bay Authority;
  • enacting the Uniform Mechanical Code, the national standard for regulations covering mechanical trades (Numerous unrelated amendments were attached to this bill, which will be addressed in a subsequent Source article);
  • amending election law to prevent election board members who run for other offices from participating in election activities and making several other small changes to elections law. It also raises the daily pay rate, or per diem, for election workers;
  • requiring all students participating in interscholastic sports to have an annual physical examination, at the beginning of the sports season;
  • naming the sea plane terminal on St. Croix the Svend Aage Oveson Jr. Sea Plane Terminal, after a St. Croix-born pilot.
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