Now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity to relocate the over-crowded Cruz Bay post office, Boynes family representatives told the crowd at a rezoning request public hearing hosted by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources on Thursday night, October 1, at the St. John Legislature building.
The Boynes’ request to rezone their parcel from R-4, residential medium density, to B-2, business secondary, for development of a post office was the less controversial of the requests heard at the meeting, which also included a presentation by Grand Bay Resort developers.
Officials have long sought a new location for the island’s sole U.S. Post Office, which has outgrown its current Cruz Bay location.
After years of discussion, Noel Boynes’ parcel at number 131 Estate Contant and Enighed — fronting Fish Fry Road across from the Enighed Pond Marine Facility exit — was identified in 2005 as a possible site for the new post office.
The property is not large enough, however, to accommodate the U.S. Postal Service’s size requirements for post offices under its current zoning which includes setback restrictions. With a change from R-4, to B-2, the structure would be able to occupy most of the site and would not be subject to setback requirements.
Plans for the proposed building consist of a 6,000 square foot post office on the first floor with a loading area, one handicapped parking space and a mezzanine; about six parking spaces on the second level; and about three offices on the third floor.
The second floor parking spaces would be accessed by the public side road off of Fish Fry Road and a stairwell and elevator would allow access to the post office below and offices above.
While no one spoke in opposition to the rezoning request, DPNR officials raised concerns over access to the site and ample space for vehicles to turn around.
While exact plans for the building are still being ironed out, the project includes about seven parking spaces, and the USPS requires only five spaces, according to Boynes family representative Michael Spellen.
It’s important for the rezoning process to proceed in a timely fashion in order to take advantage of federal funding allocations, Spellen explained.
“The USPS has given us time frames we must meet or federal funds won’t be there,” said Spellen. “If we don’t take advantage of this, we might not get another opportunity in this generation to relocate the post office. This has been ongoing since 2005 and I don’t know how long they’re going to hold out for us.”
DPNR officials have 30 days to make a ruling on the rezoning request. Boynes family representatives will next present their case in front of the V.I. Legislature at a public hearing which has not been scheduled yet. Senators will vote on the request and forward their determination to Governor John deJongh.