STJ – CZM Approves Cruz Bay and Lovango Cay Permit Applications

Aerial shot of Cruz Bay shows VINP sites that will be affected by construction. (Screenshot)

The St. John Committee of the Coastal Zone Management Board approved two applications for projects – one in Cruz Bay, and one on Lovango Cay – at an online hearing Thursday afternoon.

Virgin Islands National Park in Cruz Bay

Committee members voted unanimously to approve work at the Virgin Islands National Park headquarters in Cruz Bay.

The scope of the work was explained in detail at a May 21 public hearing. 

The construction includes repairs to the bulkhead and the pier at the Creek, also known as Little Cruz Bay, which were heavily damaged by the hurricanes of 2017.

A rendering shows areas of the Creek that have been silted in. (Screenshot from June 17, 2021, STJ-CZM online hearing)

The work also includes dredging of the Creek to a depth of eight feet. Much of the Creek’s navigable area within the National Park Service’s jurisdiction has become unusable because of the accumulation of silt from runoff and storm surge.

The St. John CZM Committee also approved plans to repair the adjacent visitors center. The building will get a new roof, new windows and shutters, new solar panels, and a fresh coat of paint. A new heating and ventilation unit will be installed on an outdoor platform built above ground level in case of flooding.

The ground floor of the visitors center will be modified to provide a meeting area and break room for employees.

The construction, which could begin in November, will not impact the nearby playground or the ballfield which is adjacent to the playground. The ballfield, which served as a base for the military and then as a staging area for hurricane repairs after Hurricane Irma, is also now being repaired.

The St. John Committee approved the plans with certain conditions, including the requirements that a water quality certificate be obtained, air pollution controls are monitored, silt fencing and turbidity curtains are installed, and the public is notified about changes in the guidelines for boats and dinghies.

Lovango Cay

At Thursday’s meeting, Lovango Island Holdings LLP received unanimous approval by St. John-CZM to modify the existing permit for the Lovango Resort and Beach Club.

Owner/developer Mark Snider said the resort’s beach club and restaurant “have been quite busy and popular” since re-opening December 23, when COVID restrictions were lifted.  Thirty percent of their guests have been local residents, he said.

Snider told the committee his team has learned a lot as they’ve constructed a restaurant, beach club, and small retail center on the island located two miles to the northwest of Cruz Bay.

Beach club at Lovango cay. (Screenshot from June 17, 2021, STJ-CZM online hearing)

The approved modifications to the existing permit will allow the developers to make several changes to their facilities, including changes to proposed overnight accommodations.

The owners may now convert seven of the 15 proposed tent units to “tree houses,” and change the location of some of these units from the ridge to the north side of the island.

A rendering shows treehouse units. (Screenshot from June 17, 2021, STJ-CZM online hearing)

Snider said the tents and the treehouses are similar in that both will be constructed on platforms supported by piers. The treehouses will have wooden roofs and be slightly larger (about 600 square feet) to accommodate roll-out beds for children. All tents and treehouses will have indoor plumbing but no kitchens.

Snider said the developers decided to convert some of the tents to treehouses “because not everybody likes the word ‘tent.’ It’s a marketing thing,” he added.

A rendering shows tent units. (Screenshot from June 17, 2021, STJ-CZM online hearing)

The developers also received approval to add a staff apartment above a proposed pump house; to revise the kitchen layout and future staff house; to expand the retail village to include some of the functions of the proposed reception building; and to reduce the size of the reception building.

Snider said the area of development would not increase beyond that which has already been permitted. “We’ve just moved the pieces around,” he said.

The St. John Committee approved all of the requested changes provided that all remaining territorial and federal permits be maintained and that any future modifications be sent to CZM for approval.

Committee Chairman Andrew Penn congratulated Snider on the restaurant and beach club’s success so far. “Hopefully, your product will continue to be successful,” he said.

Aerial Shot of Lovango Cay. (Screenshot from June 17, 2021, STJ-CZM online hearing)