One day after angering residents with a “yes” vote for a controversial zoning change last week, Senator at Large Carmen Wesselhoft called for a temporary moratorium on all large-scale development on St. John.
“We need to get a handle on St. John land use and infrastructure,” said Wesselhoft in a prepared statement. “The best thing we can do at this point is take a break while we allow for a planner to conduct studies and assessments of what is feasible. This is just about St. John.”
The senator at large proposed a 120-day moratorium from the date on which a planner is hired which would cover all development valued more than $750,000 and all Major Coastal Zone Management permits, according to the release.
“This would be a temporary measure, with the moratorium being in place for 120 days, starting from the date the St. John planner is actually hired,” Wesselhoft said in the statement. “The 120 days will allow time for the planner to take a serious look at St. John.”
With the island developing so rapidly, it is time for Governor John deJongh to make good on his promise to hire a planner for St. John, according to a letter Wesselhoft wrote to the governor on April 13.
“I am writing to request that you immediately appoint a planner for St. John,” Wesselhoft wrote. “The people of St. John have high expectations in this regard given your personal pledge and the fact that the 26th Legislature appropriated money for this position.”
“St. John has experienced unprecedented and largely un-controlled growth in recent years and a professional planner’s assessment of our infrastructure and land use is essential at this time,” Wesselhoft continued in the letter.
“I understand that you have been extremely busy since taking office, but we can not afford to wait much longer to address this matter.”
On Tuesday evening, April 17, Wesselhoft voted to approve a zoning variance for the luxury condominium project
Sirenusa, to allow for the construction of additional units at the Estate Enighed site.
The vote angered a number of St. John residents who had opposed the rezoning request at two public hearings regarding the issue.
“People were understandably frustrated with the Sirenusa rezoning,” said Wesselhoft in the prepared statement.
“Sirenusa was being held up as the poster child for St. John’s overdevelopment, but adding a few extra units at Sirenusa is not the real problem. The real problem is that these projects are coming too fast and with far too little consideration being given to their impact on us and our environment.”
“Take a Break”
St. John needs a practical plan for future development, Wessel-hoft added in the press release.
“I was born right here on St. John and no one is more disheartened than I am about some of the changes we have experienced in recent years,” the senator at large said in the release. “We need to take a break, look at the real issues, get some solid information and make a practical plan for future growth.”