CZM Public Hearing on Coral Bay Marina Is Set for Skype on Aug. 20


The controversial plan for two marinas totaling 145-slips in Coral Bay is scheduled go before the St. John Coastal Zone Management committee for review by two members of the committee at a public hearing over the internet on August 20 from the St. John Legislature Building.

In which case it could be historic as CZM’s first internet hearing and fastest hearing and decision on a major development plan in CZM history.

Or, if the internet’s Skype won’t enable participation by one of two CZM members eligible to vote on the development plan who is out of the territory, the hearing will be conducted live on St. John when thew second voting member returns before the end of September.

In either case it appears only two members will vote on the marina plan and in the event of a tie vote the application would be approved, according to Anthony Richards, DPNR Major Permits Coordinator.

Morrisette Faces Recusal
One of the three long-standing members of the St. John CZM, St. John Attorney J. Brion Morrisette, will recuse himself from the deliberations because he has an interest in some of the property involved, according to DPNR sources. Morrisette is also listed as counsel for the development group in some related documentation.

St. Johnians Andrew Penn Sr., Edmund Roberts and Morrisette are the three current members of the five-member St. John CZM. There have been two vacancies on the panel for years.

Morrisette and St. John business and community leader Robert O’Connor Jr., who were behind an earlier marina proposal for the site, have given their power of attorney over a number of properties involved in the St. John Marina development to the managing partner of the project, Chaliese Summers, formerly of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to documents in the CZM application. (See letter in the current edition)

While it can be difficult to get all three members of the St. John CZM on the island at one time in order to have a quorum, Morrisette’s recusal from the panel’s deliberations on the marina plans has exacerbated the problem.

“We have a quorum problem,” Anthony Richards, DPNR Major Permits Coordinator, admitted to St. John Tradewinds in July.

Using Internet Technology
With only two CZM members able to consider the St. John Marina application and one scheduled to be off island, Richards hopes the miracle of modern technology can enable a decision on the marina development in record time if the CZM deliberates on the proposed 145-slip project over the internet.

Roberts is scheduled to be off-island until sometime in September, according to CZM’s Richards.

“We are going to try Skype,” DPNR’s Richards told St. John Tradewinds in July, referring to the internet conferencing system to conduct the deliberations.

“If it doesn’t work, it (the hearing on the marina application) will probably be at the end of September,” Richards said.

The V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) has deemed the permit application for the marina to be complete and the permitting review process is officially under way.

“Summer’s End will give a synopsis and at that point testimony will be open to the public,” the DPNR official previously explained the hearing format.

After the hearing there will be seven days for written public comment and “within 30 days it will go to a decision,” Richards said.

That would put the project just one year behind  the schedule outlined by Summer’s End partner Rick Barksdale in an e-mail from 2012 being circulated by Coldren:

“As we all know, there are no guarantees but we are targeting an August 28 close for a January ’13 construction start,” Barskdale e-mailed prospective investors in the project – in June 2012.

A copy of the permit application is available for review at the Elaine Sprauve Library and at the St. John office of DPNR.

While the St. John CZM organizes its review process, a number of federal and local agencies and civic organizations can file written responses to the permit application, according to Richards of DPNR.

In addition to DPNR’s CZM, the application already is under review by federal and local  agencies and civic organizations, including “the Coral Bay Community Council and DPW, UVI, ACE, NMFS,” according to Richards.