St. John is one step closer to getting a new post office and Grande Bay is one step closer to earning some much-needed money thanks to the V.I. Legislature’s approval of two zoning requests on Tuesday, March 9.
The Senate unanimously approved the Boynes family’s request to rezone its 7,800 square foot parcel, located at 131 Estate Contant and Enighed, from R-4 to B-2 for the construction of a three-story building, with space to be leased to the U.S. Postal Service for a new post office for the island.
“The rezoning for the post office occurred very smoothly,” said Senator at Large Craig Barshinger. “It wasn’t really contentious because all the property’s neighbors agreed and there were no opponents.”
The rezoning is a major step in the move for a new post office for the island, which has outgrown its current facility located in the heart of Cruz Bay. The USPS initially signed a lease with the Boynes family in May 2007.
Early plans for the new post office facility, which were unveiled at a January 2007 town meeting, called for a 6,000 square foot first floor designated for the post office, 12 to 15 second-story parking spaces for post office customers and office space for the Boynes family on the third floor.
“The rezoning opens the door for the Boynes family to offer the U.S. Postal Service a location for a new post office which will have at least eight parking spaces, and be adjacent to the 150 parking spaces that we have funded for the
V.I. Port Authority to create imminently at the Enighed Pond,” said Barshinger. “Because nobody came out against it, I call it a good thing.”
Barshinger was not as happy with the rezoning of Grande Bay’s 0.26-acre lot, 3Abc in Cruz Bay, from W-1 to R-4 for the construction of six condos in the luxury condominium development’s building E, which has already been built out as an empty shell. A zoning variance was also approved by the Legislature, which will allow developer Bay Isle Associates to construct an on-site sundry shop.
Bay Isle’s rezoning request was passed by a narrow 8-7 margin.
Several people testified at the Legislature’s March 4 hearing in favor of the rezoning, with just one person testifying against Bay Isle. Numerous residents expressed their disapproval of the proposed rezoning to Barshinger outside the hearing, according to the senator at large; however, their passion did not match the level with which residents had argued against the fledgling Sirenusa development’s rezoning request, he explained.
“It was no longer the passion that people had with Sirenusa,” said Barshinger. “We got many letters in the office from people against the Grande Bay rezoning, but they were against it in a casual way. If even 15 to 20 people from the St. John community had shown up at the hearing in opposition, the rezoning would have failed.”
While residents have loudly protested Bay Isle’s development tactics in the past, it’s possible that the St. John community is ready to see the development finished and move on, Barshinger added.
The senator at large expressed his concern over the additional pressure that Grande Bay’s six new condos and sundry shop will place on the island’s infrastructure.
“We’re already busting at the seams,” he said. “Our infrastructure cannot handle the density in Cruz Bay.”
Neighboring property owner Liza Trey, who is suing Bay Isle for alleged zoning violations at the Grande Bay development, was disheartened to hear of the rezoning’s approval.
“Although this decision does not have any bearing on my case, it is disheartening and disappointing that there is such disregard for the law,” said Trey. “Everyone who has been, is or will be involved with Grande Bay will appear in court and explain in full detail how the entire development meets the Virgin Islands zoning law. To date, no one has explained how this project is deemed to be legal construction.”
Barshinger urged residents to continue to act as watchdogs to ensure Grande Bay, and all other island development, is done to code and according to permit.The senator at large’s office holds copies of every permit issued by DPNR, which are available to the public for review, he added.