Not “Anti-development,” for Reasonable Development


Back in March there was a public meeting concerning the proposed Bordeaux Mountain Villas. As all who were present witnessed, there was not one person who testified in favor of the project that did not stand to gain financially. Michael Milne wasn’t listening. For all the constructive criticism we heard to alter or downsize the project, Michael wasn’t listening.

Now when we hear that this project is near approval and no changes have been made, the people are expressing their disapproval. He now calls us “a few radical preservationists” and wonders where “these people received their moral authority to preach to us.”

Well Michael, “these people” you speak of are all around you. And again you just won’t listen.

We all know that development is here to stay. It’s just that we all have a different idea of what direction to take; the decisions we make now will set a precedent for what is to come. We must all come to an agreement on what development fits in with a long-term view of St. John. In short: we must compromise. But there is absolutely no compromise coming from the major developers. The mistakes that have been made in and around Cruz Bay are unfortunate but should serve as a warning and a heads up that we must have more input into what we as residents are going to have to live with.

Michael states the “legal rights of land ownership” many times and he is right. I think everyone would fight for that right. But when a landowner proposes a project that will adversely affect — in a major way — the lives of the landowners around it, don’t those people have rights? He states, “we must acknowledge our neighbors wish and right to build a home on their land.” I think we would all agree. But this is not a home. Four, four story buildings; 64 bedrooms; two pools and a clubhouse on one acre. And that acre is steep beyond comprehension.

I urge all St. Johnians to go to the site and see for yourselves what we are talking about. In its present form, this will be a disaster for Bordeaux Mountain. Michael believes in “better development practices and a greater sensitivity to our environment” and that he is “trying to preserve the natural beauty” of St. John. You cannot make that statement and promote this project in the same breath. It is incongruous.

Michael repeatedly refers to the current laws concerning development. We have seen how these laws have been stretched, coerced, molded and abused to find ways to build in which the original laws never intended. Sure it may be legal, (according to interpretation), but is this what we really want? Michael will not concede that a lot could be unbuildable or that a design could be inappropriate to the local environment. I disagree, as I believe many St. Johnians do as well. So we change the laws. Unfortunately, that takes years and will not help us now.

So this “anti-development cause,” is not an anti-development cause at all. It is really a cause based in the desire to see St. John developed in a manner in keeping with our neighborhoods: something we can live with! Is that so unreasonable?

Thatcher Lord