Board of Land Use Appeals Official Decision

The Board of Land Use Appeals is expected to issue its written decision regarding Reliance Housing Foundation’s Calabash Boom affordable housing development at the end of the month, four months after convening on St. John to hear the matter.

Reliance, the housing provider which constructed Bellevue Village on Gift Hill and Lovenlund on St. Thomas, plans to build a 72-unit affordable housing complex consisting of 48 rental apartment units and 24 for-sale duplex townhomes on about eight acres in Estate Calabash Boom.

The original major Coastal Zone Management permit for the development was approved by the St. John CZM Committee in December 2006.

Since then, however, an ad hoc group called Friends of Coral Bay has opposed the construction on environmental grounds, claiming it will adversely impact nearby Johnson Bay on the island’s south shore.

The group first brought their case to the local courts where District Judge Curtis Gomez issued a temporary restraining order in January which has since been lifted.

In March, the St. John CZM Committee — after lifting a cease and desist order it issued Reliance for illegal construction activity at the Calabash site — unanimously voted to approve modifications to the housing provider’s major permit.

Under the modified permit, residents will use roof catchments and existing wells for potable water instead of the previously planned reverse osmosis facility.

Friends of Coral Bay petitioned BLUA regarding the St. John CZM Committee’s approval of Reliance permit modification.

After hearing arguments on July 6 from Friends of Coral Bay attorney Alan Smith and a team of Reliance lawyers, including St. Thomas attorney Treston Moore, BLUA members dismissed the appeal in a voice vote. Regulations require the board to issue a written statement which it has yet to do.

BLUA is scheduled to meet at the end of the month, which might pave the way for a written statement to finally be issued, according to the board’s legal representative, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Phelan.

“The board is scheduled to meet in late October, and at that time they should be issuing an opinion,” said Phelan.
In the meantime, Reliance contractors have been working on storm water mitigation measures at the site, the only activity currently allowed.