Coral Bay Marina Answers Some CZM Questions

Coral Bay Harbor, above, may be home to the the island’s first marina.

Coral Bay Marina LLC’s most recent attempt at completing a Coastal Zone Management (CZM) major application to construct a 116-slip marina along Route 107, adjacent to Island Blues Seaside Bar and Grill, was missing information, according to Jamal Nielsen, media relations coordinator for the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR).

“The application is still incomplete,” Nielsen said. “The staff is waiting for the applicant to address the deficiencies in the application.”

Coral Bay Marina partners have submitted additional information on previous occasions.

“I wouldn’t say that this is a new application,” said Brion Morrisette, the St. John attorney representing Coral Bay Marina. “CZM has deemed our application incomplete on two occasions, and this will be our third submission of additional materials.”

The developers of the marina, which include local landowners and Robert O’Connor Jr., have been working closely with CZM staff members to supply the missing information, according to Morrisette.

“We are very pleased with the response and cooperation afforded by CZM Director Victor Somme and his staff,” said Morrisette. “We were able to sit down with CZM staff members and receive their direct comments and requests because they scheduled a comprehensive conference to eliminate any further confusion.”

CZM’s primary concerns were the amount of dredging that the project required, the disposal of the dredged materials, and the impact that the dredging would have on the marine environment.

Plans for the marina were adjusted to address those issues.

No Dredging
“We expect to eliminate dredging altogether,” Morrisette said. “The part of the dock that leads from the shore out has been lengthened. The slip areas and the functional part of the dock have been moved farther out, so we don’t have to dredge.”

The only impact on the seabed will be the installation of pilings for the dock, he added.

The CZM staff’s most recent request was that the buildings included in the project be constructed 50 feet away from the shoreline. The developers have redesigned the plans to comply with that request.

“All we have wanted to do all along is address CZM’s concerns,” said Morrisette. “It’s a good project, and we want to do it right.”

Overall plans for St. John’s first marina include the island’s only marine pump-out facility, a desalination plant, a fuel dock for boats, a laundromat, and retail and office spaces.

Fuel Storage Settled
To minimize environmental impacts, the fuel container storage unit for the marina will be located across the road from the waterfront, Morrisette explained.

“The property is zoned for a fuel dock, and I have not been advised of any issues,” he said. “We would comply with The pump-out facility would be portable, so that it can be rolled to the foot of the dock, where the waste would be transferred to a septic truck for transportation to the waste treatment plant.

U.S. Customs Offered Spot
The developer has invited U.S. Customs to occupy an office at the marina, free of charge. The agency has not responded.

“We are hopeful that once the marina becomes a reality, Customs will take a hard look at the demand for providing clearance in the area,” said Morrisette.

The first phase of construction would include the marina and the docks, then the structure that would house the desalination plant. The retail and office areas, which might include a grocery store and long-term storage space, would be built last.

Hopefully Complete Now
“We’re pretty optimistic at this point that we have clearly identified the lingering and remaining concerns of the CZM staff,” said Morrisette.

Coral Bay Marina expects to have the additional materials submitted and a CZM decision rendered within three weeks. CZM would then schedule a public hearing.

The developer has said that there has been positive public feedback on the proposed marina.

“We have received overwhelming statements of support from various people in the community,” said Morrisette. “But we understand that there are legitimate environmental and other concerns, and we will be receptive to the public’s comments.”