Sirenusa Construction Problems Include Boulders in Hot Tub, Neighbor Says


The tower of gabion baskets, left, at the Sirenusa site rises more than 30 feet next to the steel skeleton of a building, according to the neighboring landowner.

The boulder from the neighboring condominium construction project landing in his hot tub was the final straw for a longtime island resident homeowner.
The controversial 40-unit luxury condominium project Sirenusa, rising on a five-acre hillside site above Cruz Bay, continues to be the bane of one neighboring land owner.

The owner of the home directly below the project has been dealing with a number of annoyances from the abutting five-acre super-construction site since work began about a year ago, but the problems seem to be escalating – straight up.

Over the past several weeks, a 50-foot high stack of stone-filled wire baskets has risen just above the lower boundary between their hillside properties, almost topping the adjacent towering structural steel frame government officials ordered removed earlier this year.

“Last week they were up there working and moving boulders all over the place,” the landowner, who wished to not be identified, said. “One of the boulders rolled down the hill and was partially on my property. It mashed up a tree on my property which is probably going to die now.”

“It’s totally gotten worse,” he added.

Improper Silt Fence
The silt fence installed on the border of the property is useless, according to the neighbor.

“A silt fence is supposed to be partially buried in the ground so that it actually will catch silt,” he said. “They didn’t do that and the runoff goes all they way down the road and eventually into the ocean. It was improperly installed and they claim they are going to fix it, but they haven’t.”

The silt fence that is in place, does not run all the way to the property line and is a mere seven feet from the neighbor’s land, which comprise two more violations, the neighbor added.

Other complaints may not be construction code violations, but definitely constitute nuisances.

Smelly and Noisy
“There is no bathroom facility on the portion of their property that abuts my land,” said the neighbor. “There is nothing down there for the crew to use. They have to go up to the other part of the job site, but they don’t – they just go wherever.”

Work at the site begins at 7 a.m. and continues until dark, sometime seven days a week, the neighbor explained.

“I wake up to them every morning and hear them all day until dark,” he said. “This goes on six and sometimes seven days a week. The noise and the fumes from the equipment that they keep running are incredibly annoying.”

Row upon row of gabion baskets are stacked above the house and they have not been compacted, which the neighbor alleges could result in future problems for the area.

“They claim they only have to compact the first few rows, but you want to compact the whole thing in order for it to be structurally sound,” he said.  

Vegetation Destroyed
The developers did not try to retain as much of the native vegetation as possible, which is in violation of their group dwelling permit, according to the neighbor.

“They just cut down all the trees and everything else and buried them in the fill,” he said. “I would like to see them put back at least some of the original forestation that was there before. They need to plant trees and shrubs so there won’t be the runoff problem that there is now.”

The neighbor acknowledged he is considering legal action against the  Sirenusa developers.

The controversial 10-building project had some problems with government regulators earlier this year.

The project initially came under fire in late March when the Department of Planning and Natural Resources issued a cease and desist order for two buildings which were in violation of height restrictions. The area is zoned R-2 which only allows for two-story buildings with a loft.

Code-Violating Steel Structure Still Stands  
In March, DPNR officials said the developers of Sirenusa had modified their plans without getting approval.

“It has been determined that the plans which were approved for the group dwelling permit were substantially different to those submitted for the building permits for the project,” DPNR spokesperson Jamal Nielsen told St. John Tradewinds in late March. “Plans submitted were indisputably three and four stories. The area is R-2 and three-story and four-story buildings will violate the zoning requirements.”

Sirenusa developers had al-ready constructed a four-story steel frame for one of the buildings when DPNR issued the partial cease and desist order on March 30.

That structure, however remains standing.

“The plans are being revised and the structure will be coming down eventually,” said Nielsen, who added that he didn’t have a time frame for when the height-offending building would be dismantled.

The developers have not submitted revised plans for the site, and Nielsen said he did not know when to expect them.