Coral Bay Marina CZM Public Hearing Rescheduled for July 13 as New Project, New Issues Arise

As new issues about the development continue to arise, the St. John Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Committee’s public hearing concerning Coral Bay Marina LLC’s proposed marina project has been rescheduled for Thursday, July 13, at the St. John Legislature Building at 6 p.m.

The hearing was originally set for Tuesday, June 20, but was cancelled due to heavy rains which prevented St. Croix-based CZM staff from reaching Love City, according to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) spokesperson Jamal Nielsen.

The CZM Committee will hear public testimony either for or against the proposed marina as members weigh the merits of the project. Plans for the development include a 116-slip marina, a reverse-osmosis plant, a sewage treatment plant, a laundromat and retail and office space.

20-Year Lease, Zoning Question
DPNR’s public review period for the proposed development concluded in early June, but since then a number of new issues have been raised, including questions about the length of the developers’ lease on the native-owned property and the zoning of at least one of the parcels included in the project. Coral Bay Marina, headed by managing partner Robert O’Connor and represented by St. John attorney Brion Morrisette, has reportedly negotiated a 20-year lease for the 1.5 acres of waterfront property along Route 10.

The length of the lease, which was not addressed during the public comment period, is certain to be questioned during the hearing.

A zoning issue concerning a sewage treatment plant to be located on private land has been brought up lately, which has garnered no comment from the developers or CZM officials.

Coral Bay Marina’s proposed development is not the only marina potentially in the works for the Coral Bay area.

Second Marina on Horizon
Moravian Church elders have confirmed they are planning to construct a marina in Coral Bay on their Estate Emmaus waterfront property, located directly across the bay from the proposed Coral Bay Marina site.

“We are seeking to finalize discussions about building a marina,” Reverend Errol Connor, superintendent of the Moravian Church, V.I. Conference said in mid-June.

Senator at Large Craig Barshinger said he met with the developers engaged by the Moravian Church, but could not remember their names.

“I met with Reverend Connor, Ira Hobson (V.I. Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner) and the developers about three months ago,” he said. “I don’t recall the name of the group, but they said that they weren’t ‘Johnny-Come-Latelys.’ They said that they had been involved with negotiations to develop the land for the past 10 years.”

No Comment from Yssis
The St. Thomas-based Yssis Group was previously linked to proposed development of the Emmaus Moravian Church land, which St. John Tradewinds first reported in early 2004.

“We are in discussion with the property owners for the potential of a major marina development and commercial center to be in the area of Guy Benjamin School,” John Daniels, Yssis Group co-owner told St. John Tradewinds in April 2004.

When contacted after his company was named by Barshinger as the developer in negotiations with the Moravians, Daniels declined to comment.

“I would just point you to Reverend Errol Connor, and the church’s attorney Karl Percell,” Daniels said on Thursday, June 29.

Neither Percell or Connor returned St. John Tradewinds phone calls last week. Before taking a stance on the development of the Moravian Church’s land, Senator Barshinger said he wants to hear from the public.

“I want to find out now what the people want before I propose anything,” he said.

Following the St. John CZM Committee’s July 13 Coral Bay Marina public hearing, the group’s decision meeting for the project is scheduled for Wednesday, August 2, at 6 p.m. at the St. John Legislature Building.