Several conditions apply to the construction of the new St. John post office, Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Director of the Division of Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning Dr. Wanda Mills-Bocachica announced last week.
In late May, just five days into her tenure as CCZP director, Mills-Bocachica stated the post office was a “civic association” which falls under a “matter of right,” and therefore is allowed to be constructed on the designated R-4 zoned site in Estate Enighed.
“Dr. Mills assumed that a zoning compliance review had already been conducted for the federal United States Post Office, which led to her choice of the most applicable designation under the R-4 zoning category of ‘civic association,’” according to a June 21 DPNR release. “The listing of postal substations under ‘uses permitted subject to the conditions’ was erroneously overlooked.”
The post office is still in the design development phase, and can be modified to meet existing requirements, the release stated.
No Word from USPS
The USPS, which had advertised for a 5,100 square foot building on a 52,000 square foot site, signed a l0-year lease for the site May 17.
U.S. Postal Service Real Estate Manager Thomas Pino did not respond to requests for comment on the zoning of the approximately 7,000 square foot R-4 zoned site owned by the Boynes family.
Plans for the new post office include 6,000 square feet on the first floor; 12 to 15 parking spaces for post office customers on the second floor; and office space for the Boynes family businesses on the third floor.
Post offices are allowed to be constructed in an R-4 zone, provided “there shall be a minimum lot area of 15,000 square feet; the maximum coverage of any building or buildings shall not exceed 30 percent of the area of the zoning lot; there shall be minimum setbacks from every adjacent property of 25 feet, except that setbacks from adjacent residential properties shall be 50 feet,” according to the V.I. Code.
“There shall be no exterior car washing; there shall be no parking or storage of nongovernment vehicles in the front yard; off-street parking shall be provided in accordance with the provisions of section 230 of this subchapter,” the V.I. Code.
St. John Tradewinds reported in March 2007 that the property located across from Enighed Pond — which is currently the site of a car wash and used for storage of trucking equipment and vehicles — may not meet all the zoning requirements for a postal facility.
The zoning restrictions applied to the post office bring light to a bigger problem with the 40-year-old V.I. Code, according to DPNR.
V.I. Code Challenges Planners
“The planning director recognizes that the Virgin Islands law is approximately 40 years old, and even with its revisions, does not clearly define function of the increasingly popular mixed-use facility within an urbanized area,” according to the release.
“Planners are challenged to apply the singular designations of the existing zoning law based on the contemporary public demands for mixed-use facilities based on their convenience — this is currently a national and international challenge,” according to the statement from DPNR. “Another revision of the Virgin Islands Code is pending.”