Nearly 20 people came out to hear plans for the subdivision of 84 acres of undeveloped land on the East End of St. John at a St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee public hearing on Tuesday evening, January 16.
Plans for the subdivision of the 84-acre area into 31 one- to eight-acre lots were presented by Jaredian Design Group.
“It’s a very simple project that involves the subdivision of three parcels into 31 lots, ranging in size from one to eight acres,” said John Woods of Jaredian.
The three parcels — 6A-1, 6A-1-1 and 6A-1-2 — are 70 percent owned by New Jersey-native Mark Davies and 30 percent owned by Tennessee resident Ed Netherland.
Construction of Roadway, Culverts, Swales
Flamboyant Realty, owned by Robert and Karye Carney, submitted the application for a major CZM permit on the landowners’ behalf on August 3, 2006.
In addition to subdividing the parcels, the owners are asking permission to construct a subdivision road, culverts, swales, retaining walls and underground utilities.
The roadway will be one lane with three spurs to provide access to all lots and several pull-offs, and will slope gently, Woods explained.
“The roadway is a relatively gentle slope by Virgin Islands standards,” he said. “It will be single lane with pullouts every 200 feet, so any potential conflict between vehicles will result in having to back up no more than 100 feet.”
Measures will be in place to minimize erosion and runoff, Woods explained.
“We will use loosely laid stone walls, which have a great value economically and cuts down on the cost of retaining slopes,” he said. “We will use concrete walls faced in stone on the downhill side of the road if we have to, so we’re not creating a mess. There will be grassy areas to ensure a minimal flow of erosion from the culverts and swales.”
Grassy Areas Planned
Plant, animal and sea life have been taken into account, according to Amy Dempsey of BioImpact.
“We worked with Dr. Gary Ray and found three endangered plant species,” said Dempsey. “We will either try to avoid them during construction or transplant them, and they will be monitored and maintained by Dr. Ray.”
Studies of the sea life will be done prior to construction to determine a baseline, according to Dempsey.
Subdivision “Conscious Decision”
“The area is a very dry environment and very steep, and offshore are great coral and seagrass communities,” said Dempsey. “We’ll do water quality monitoring to establish a baseline two months before construction and three months after the roadway is completed.”
Although the three lots’ R-1 zoning allows for subdivision down to half acres, the owners opted for larger lots, according to Woods.
“The division into 31 lots was a conscious decision on the part of the owners,” he said. “Some developments start up small and end up big. This will not be the case in this development.”
168 Lots Are Allowed
The perpetual easement through the Privateer Bay development, which Davies purchased for $1 million, limits the East End subdivision to 65 lots, according to Woods.
“Theoretically, there could be a maximum of 168 lots,” he said. “That’s not suitable for this piece of land.”
St. John CZM Committee Chairman Julien Harley expressed concern about further subdivision of the East End parcels.
“A lot of times you guys play games with us,” said Harley. “Will you come back to ask for any more subdivisions?”
Davies’ main reason for the subdivision is the construction of his own home, the developer explained.
“Whether we’ll come back for ‘any’ is a hard question,” said Davies. “The main reason for doing this is my own house, which will be on the 13-acre lot on the point. I’ll keep that and I’ll be very happy.”
Work with Community
“I’ve been coming here for 15 years — four years as a permanent resident — and I think we’re doing the right thing,” Davies added.
In light of pricing many people out of the subdivision, Davies should work with community groups to help St. John, explained Harley.
“It’s your property, and you should be able to do what you want with it,” said Harley. “It puts a certain group of people out, and that’s where the frustration comes in.
“There are certain things that St. John needs, and community groups need to start talking to you to see what you can do to help them,” Harley said.
Davies feels responsible for doing the right thing with his East End property, he explained.
“When you have the opportunity to develop a piece of property like this, you have a stewardship for the land,” said Davies. “I will do the best thing I could possibly do.”
Davies does not plan on immediately selling all of the East End lots once they are subdivided, he explained.
Road Damage Concerns
“I’m not going to put them all on the market on the same day,” said Davies. “My purpose is not to sell it all tomorrow.”
One St. John resident expressed his concern over more concrete trucks using the East End road, which was recently the site of an overturned Centerline Concrete truck, and bears several scars from spilled concrete.
“It seems to be a very environmentally sensitive development, and I admire the restraint for density,” said Steve Crum-rine. “My concern is the economic benefit or detriment to St. John and the mitigation of road use and road damage.”
One long-time East End resident testified regarding his concern for the environment.
“I’ve lived in the East End for many years, and I like it the way it is,” said Lyndel Anthony. “I used to fish out there a lot. Once you disturb that dirt, you’re going to get some serious runoff — how are you going to keep that area pristine?”
Seven Working Days for Comments
Harley praised Anthony for voicing his opinion.
“I’m glad you spoke up,” said Harley. “We have a tendency not to speak up and then complain after the fact.”
Residents have seven working days, until Thursday, January 25, to deliver written comments regarding the subdivision to CZM.