Former Senator-at-Large Seeks Commercial Rezoning

Brian Smith (File photo)
Brian Smith (File photo)

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources is inviting the public to comment on a proposed rezoning in Estate Adrian on St. John. The application calls for a change from R-1 residential to B-1 commercial for a small parcel adjacent to Centerline Road.

St. John businessman and former one-term senator-at-large Brian Smith appeared at a public hearing held Jan. 29 in Cruz Bay to answer questions about his plan to create a vendors’ plaza, along with a bar and restaurant. The site on the application is listed as Plot 6-D, Adrian.

Smith, along with his wife Betty Smith, is also the applicant of record for a one acre shopping center adjacent to the proposed site.

DPNR Planning Technician Kelly Davis led the questioning at the hearing held in the Cleone Creque Conference Room. Responding to those questions, the applicant described a space where individual vendors would be allowed to sell merchandise; the area would be accommodated by water and sewage facilities as part of the development. Eventually, Smith said, a one-story structure would be built on the site for the restaurant and bar.

During the questioning, Smith was asked if the current request was part of a multi-phase development, to which he replied yes.

“I think the first phase would be the vendor’s plaza, which would accommodate several individuals selling there, whether it’s t-shirts or cultural wares, as well as maybe a smoothie shack or a smoothie hut. And then, subsequent to that, the bar and restaurant being established. So it would be at a minimum, two, possibly three phases,” Smith said.

But plans for the restaurant would have to be drawn before construction takes place, pending approval of the application, he said.

Three people appeared at the hearing to speak in favor of the application. No one appeared to speak against the plan, but St. John resident Pam Gaffin submitted a letter expressing some concerns.

In her letter, Gaffin said a B-1 rezoning is reserved for areas that are dense with business and commercial activities, like Charlotte Amalie. She asked if the zoning request was appropriate and proportionate to the size of the development.

Moleto Smith, a supporter of the applicant, said he thought the B-1 request was appropriate, given the pace of development taking place on St. John. If DPNR were to grant the request, Brian Smith would have the latitude to file additional requests for commercial zoning to keep pace with developments granted to others in the future, Moleto Smith said.

Development at 5C Estate Adrian began in 2018. (Source file photo)

The shopping center adjacent to the property in question — a larger development by one-third of an acre — was built on land zoned as residential. The difference, said DPNR zoning specialist Leyla Laplace, is that the agency granted a variance for the parcel zoned R-1.

“It’s where the zone for the property remains the same, but other uses are allowed,” Laplace said.

The parcel at Plot 5A, Adrian was approved for development through a series of actions taken by the Legislature — Bill No. 6812 in 2005, and Bills No. 8144 and 8147 in 2018.

The one-acre lot now has one large, two story building and an area closer to the road with gas pumps, covered by an awning. The surrounding land has been covered by concrete; a wall and landscaping has been installed at the curbside but there is no pedestrian sidewalk.

Smith also has a commercial development in Cruz Bay Quarter adjacent to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. A number of businesses are active at the site, including a ground-level bar and restaurant and a law office on the top floor of a two-story building adjacent to the road.

Members of the public still have 14 days to submit comments on the proposed B-1 zoning request for Plot 6-D, Adrian. Comments can be sent by email to [email protected]