Can We Practice What We Preach?


As a St. John resident I am saddened by the amount of growth that is occurring here as are many others. Recently in the news we have been exposed to possible development shenanigans by developers. Some are stretching the laws while others may be within their rights. We have outraged and concerned citizens, a Green Building association and planned demonstrations for specific projects. This from my viewpoint displays a bit of hypocrisy by those involved.

While I applaud citizen advocacy, this lack of planned growth has been happening for a few years. The problem is not easy to solve.

Our V.I. government seems somewhat reluctant to open up the process to the public and not very expeditious in their ability to implement any comprehensive zoning plans (I’ve attended the public meetings).

On the other hand we have anti-development groups who are picking and choosing which projects to attack. Would the members of this group be willing to give up substantial profits and gained equity they have gained in the last few years to turn back the clock? When asked, I believe the answer would be that they want St. John to stay the way it is, they like the way of life (the sometimes 10 fold increase in land value is just icing on the cake).

That is impossible. But as their citizenry they can choose to try to change the laws that govern it and its development regulations, so as to help control growth. Instead it seems they go after what they perceive as the grossest exaggerations of building development.

This is a dangerous and desperate path showing personal bias and a lack of even handedness. If the goal is to keep us green, are we willing to do what it takes? The biggest non-green dirty little secret is in the way our waste treatment is handled for our homes. Oh, I have a treatment plant that the architect specified, it’s not a problem for me.

The truth is the law states that discharge from these plants needs to be sent to a subterranean drain field. It is still black water and cannot be surface discharged to let’s say water plants, unless treated and tested. Well my manufacturer says my waste water could be almost safe enough to drink. This is not proof and the laws state otherwise. I attended a wastewater treatment seminar last year and it was apparent that even the architects in attendance were not aware of the law or potential implications.

When your last tank is full where does it go? Once full, every flush displaces this last tank fluid which goes where?

Would you as a home owner submit to wastewater system inspection as is done in the states? Would you have to modify your system? Could you? Do you want people taking pictures of your code violations to help out the DPNR with YOUR code violation issues as is requested by the Green Builder Association? Which is worse, a Planned Unit Development or potential pathogens running down the hill to your neighbor’s home? I am not really asking anyone to choose, we shouldn’t have to, but MOST new and old houses are non-compliant. New house plans simply do not include plans for a proper drain field (yes, treatment plant discharge water requires a drain field unless tested).

The DPNR is currently understaffed to address this problem but a simple inspection at time of occupancy would solve a lot of this. Is your conscious clear, are you willing to spend a bit of that gained equity to fix YOUR non-compliance problem? Let us be of one face. Please get your priorities straight, change the laws that apply to new development and remember you live in a glass house.

Watching the river flow in St. John