CZM Approves Tropical Shipping Permit to Rebuild

CZM commissioners heard testimony on behalf of a building permit for Tropical Shipping Company at the Wilfred Allick Container Port Thursday. (Aerial view courtesy Jon Adams, Benton Construction)

The St. Croix Coastal Zone Management Board of Commissioners approved a new building for Tropical Shipping but delayed hearings for both the V.I. Education Department’s application to rebuild St. Croix Central High School due to their tardy responses, and the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s petition to lay underground cable for failing to follow procedures.

Representatives from Tropical Shipping, the V.I. Port Authority, Benton Construction and the V.I. Water and Power Authority testified in favor of the building permit at Thursday’s hearing.

According to Tropical Shipping’s Kisha Aubain, the new administration building at the Wilfred Allick Container Port will be constructed in the same footprint as the former building, which was destroyed by the 2017 hurricanes. The site already has been demolished and cleared.

In addition to the usual utilities, a 22,000 gallon cistern will be constructed. The electrical box and transformers will be located 10 feet away from the administration building, and the utility lines have already been laid underground.

The CZM staff research concluded the site is not in a FEMA flooding zone and has not been found to have historical or environmental impact. CZM board members cautioned excavators to watch for signs of antiquities as they dig.

After hearing the staff report, the board voted to approve the staff recommendations on the condition that the company obtains all necessary permits and notifies CZM 72 hours before beginning construction. Board President Masserae Webster mentioned that Tropical Shipping is expected to receive the official permit in approximately three weeks.

Next, there was to be a decision meeting on the V.I. Education Department’s plans to rebuild St. Croix Central High School. The public hearing was held on Jan. 21. Chaneel Callwood of VIDE said the new school will be a little smaller than the first, contain several buildings, and be “not exactly where the foundations are now.”

However, the board had not received Education’s responses to questions from CZM, so they decided to reschedule the hearing for July 16. They also requested that the superintendent of schools or the commissioner appear for the next hearing to answer questions.

“I was totally dismayed to get the responses today,” Webster said, adding the board had not had time to study or discuss the information before the hearing.

At the end of the meeting, Webster announced there are two vacancies on the St. Croix CZM board and anyone interested should contact the CZM office.