Atty. Morrisette Keeps Close Watch on Opposition to Coral Bay Marina

Four acres of submerged land within Coral Bay harbor, above, will be utilized for the planned Coral Bay Marina.

A public hearing will be conducted June 20 on the proposed four-acre, 116-slip Coral Bay Marina — and controversy is building.

The developer’s attorney, J. Brion Morrisette, found out about the scheduled Coastal Zone Management hearing from the St. John “coconut telegraph” before he could be officially notified, but the St. Johnian is prepared for any opposition.

“These extremists are going to try and capitalize on” anti-development sentiment growing on the island, Morrisette said “Most people can differentiate between a marina and a nine-story building,” said Morrisette.

Submerged Land Approval
A proposal to develop submerged land, land under territorial waters, requires approval by the V.I. Senate — after a project has been approved by the CZM and signed by the governor.

“We can rest assured that Sharon Coldren and her cadre will be opposed, ostensibly in the public interest, but it is our feeling that those in support outnumber those opposed,” said Morrisette in reference to community activist Sharon Coldren, who is president of the Coral Bay Community Council.

“Most of those opposed have a misunderstanding or are fundamentally opposed to development,” said Morrisette, a long-time member of the island’s CZM committee. Each of the three islands has a CZM committee.

“I’m certain that the opponents will go to great and extreme lengths and our legislators will put things in proper perspective,” Morrisette said.

For Morrisette, a marina in Coral Bay is just part of the change that has been slowly coming to his home island during his lifetime.

“It is the only island in the Caribbean that doesn’t have a marina,” said St. Johnian Morrisette.

“There has been a need for a long time,” Morrisette said. “It could be argued that there is a de facto marina that emerged around the dock.”

Derelict Boats on Moorings
The submerged portion of the project planned for the south side of the harbor covers about four acres of the mooring field but affects almost as many functional boats as wrecks — hulks grounded by past storms or sailboats firmly moored and too tired to sink.

“There are a few seaworthy boats that would be required to relocate,” Morrisette said of the four-acre interior portion of Coral Bay harbor affected by the marina plans.

Morrisette could recall only a few other submerged land applications on St. John, including:
• The Westin Resort dock on Great Cruz Bay;

• The outfall for the proposed Pond Bay resort on Chocolate Hole, although the developers did not get the right to improve the beach, other than add sand, or to any littoral rights;

• The V.I. Port Authority’s Cruz Bay dock.

The Enighed Pond project was delayed for years by the V.I. Port Authority’s insistence that the submerged land in the pond be transferred to VIPA from the V.I. government.