Residents Question Pond Bay Club Rendering and Chocolate Hole Reality

The Pond Bay Club rendering, above, does not resemble the beach in Chocolate Hole.

As construction continues on the Chocolate Hole luxury resort Pond Bay Club, representatives of developer First American Development Group/Carib opened a large sales office on the second floor of The Marketplace and distributed sales packets which included an artist’s rendering of the future beachfront villas and cottages.

The only problem is what appears in the depiction is not allowed at the 50-unit Pond Bay site according to the Coastal Zone Management permit for the project.

In the picture, a white sand beach stretches along the shoreline, punctuated by a few picturesque palm trees. The Chocolate Hole beachfront, however, is not a white sandy beach, but a rocky shoreline covered in scrub vegetation — which the developers are explicitly not allowed to touch.

“None of what they are showing is allowed in their permit,” said one resident after seeing the artist’s rendering of the 15-acre high-end vacation club site.

When the resident questioned why the beach in the picture did not resemble Chocolate Hole, he was offered a simple, yet illegal explanation.

“The woman at the sales office told me, ‘We are going to truck sand in like the Westin,’” said the resident. “But their CZM permit specifically excludes beach replenishment. They aren’t allowed to do that.”

When granted their first CZM permit in 2002, Pond Bay Club developers requested to be allowed to conduct beach replenishment, but were denied.

After their original permit was deemed invalid, the developers resubmitted their CZM permit application in October 2006, but did not request beach replenishment permission at that time.

Permit Bars Beach Work
St. John CZM Committee officials, however, still included a clause in Pond Bay’s 2006 permit specifically barring the developer from replenishing the beach.

“No beach nourishment activities shall be undertaken at the site,” according to special condition “R” of Pond Bay Club’s CZM permit.   

The location of the cottages in relation to the highwater mark is another point of contention between the artistic rendering of the future Pond Bay Club cottages and what is allowed in their permit.

Construction on shorelines must be at least 50 feet from the mean low water mark and behind the natural vegetation line. The rendering of Pond Bay Club, however, shows cottages which look significantly closer to the shoreline than 50 feet and there is no vegetation in sight.

CZM officials are aware of the problems and an inspection is expected next week, according to a St. John CZM Committee member.

Pond Bay Club representatives did not offer any explanation for the differences between what is allowed in their permit and what is depicted in the artist’s rendering.

“The renderings show what the Pond Bay real estate project will look like when completed,” said Bill Orwig, Pond Bay Club’s director of sales.

The drawing is only an artistic interpretation of the plans and developers are only constructing what their permit allows, according to project architect Tracey Roberts of Springline Architects, who had not seen the drawing in question.

“It’s an advertising and marketing item,” Roberts said about the artist’s rendering. “We’re clearly following everything that is in our permit. We are constructing only what is in our permit.”