Zoning Questions Remain as CZM Public Hearing Nears for Coral Bay Marina LLC

As the much anticipated St. John Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Committee’s public hearing regarding Coral Bay Marina LLC’s proposed development nears, questions about the area’s zoning designation are looming.

The rescheduled session is now set for Thurs-day, July 13, at 6 p.m. at the Cruz Bay Legislature, but one Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) official acknowledged the property included in the project is not zoned for some of the uses being proposed.

B-3 Zone Doesn’t Allow Sewage Treatment
“The area where Coral Bay Marina will be located is zoned B-3 and a sewage treatment plant is not allowable in a B-3 zone,” said DPNR spokesperson Jamal Nielsen.

Coral Bay Marina developers, headed by Man-aging Director Robert O’Connor, Jr. and represented by attorney Brion Morrisette, are hoping to be granted a major CZM permit to construct a 116-slip marina, a marine pump-out facility, a reverse-osmosis plant, a laundromat and buildings for office and retail space along both sides of Route 10 on the Coral Bay waterfront.

Zone Variance or Change Needed
The waterfront portion of the land in question is zoned W-1 which allows for a wide range of land and water-based activities including a marina and various businesses. The sewage treatment plant, however, is planned to be constructed across Route 10, on property which is zoned B-3 and does not allow for such a facility.

“We suggested that they get a zoning change or a variance,” Nielsen said about Coral Bay Marina’s zoning problems.

Potential developers must appeal to the entire V.I. Senate — known as a Meeting of the Whole — in order to receive a zone variance or change. A zone variance or change most often occurs prior to the beginning of the permitting process. CZM staff does not usually approve an application if the the zoning issue has not been dealt with beforehand, according to Nielsen.

Developers See Zoning Issue Differently
The developers, however, have a markedly different view of the issue. “I have a difference of opinion,” said O’Connor. “How do you treat sewage? A person or a business is an entity and the uses are the same.”

“If you put a residence on there, how would they treat their sewage?” questioned O’Connor. “You have to have some way to take care of sewage — it’s the same thing.”

“We’re treating the sewage on our property, not all of the houses around there,” O’Connor said.

If the issue arises at the Thursday, July 13, public hearing, O’Connor said he would do whatever is needed.

“If something has to be done, I’ll do it,” he said. “Whatever has to be done, I’ll do it.”