Sept. 19, 2002 The eight senators who voted last December to approve rezoning for Botany Bay found their campaign posters decorated Wednesday morning with environmentally unfriendly stickers.
Which is to say the stickers, in the eyes of at least one senator whose posters bear them, are not an "environmentally friendly thing to do." That's what Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole said Wednesday. Cole was incensed, as were his colleagues who voted for the rezoning.
Apparently sometime Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, the stickers were applied to the senators' posters and to those of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull as well. Sens. Cole, Roosevelt David, Carlton Dowe, Emmett Hansen II, Norman Jn Baptiste, David Jones and Almando "Rocky" Liburd voted for the rezoning in December, and the governor approved it soon after.
The stickers which read "Sold Botany Bay out" and "Botany Bay 8" first appeared about three weeks ago. At that time, Cole said, "I just basically took it," but he isn't going to "take" Wednesday's defacing of the posters. "I am going to file a vandalism complaint with the Police Department today," he said Wednesday.
On Wednesday there were many more stickers on many more posters, according to Cole and David.
"If you don't want to vote for me, don't vote for me," Cole said, "but don't destroy my posters." He added, "This is out of order. It shows a total disregard; this is private property."
David was equally incensed. "I am making a police report and writing the attorney general and possibly the U.S. attorney," he said. "It's a criminal act, and when people get away with things like this, they move to bigger criminal activities. It doesn't speak well for the community."
David said he met some tourists at lunch Wednesday and "they told me they saw my beautiful posters, and they thought it was a shame. They were very upset." He continued, "It's very sad."
And it's expensive. David said, "It's about $200 a poster. We have people who have spent half the day removing the stickers with some chemicals. I hope the police find them" the perpetrators.
Cole said his posters cost about $300 each.
Cole said he voted for the rezoning because he has to "look at projects to bring new money into this economy. How can we sustain a $640 million budget if we don't get new development?"
He said the territory's antiquities law protects artifacts from destruction. "All those things are protected," he said. "No development can go in those places where they have to be preserved. Everything on that property has to be monitored by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, and they have to develop it in compliance with Coastal Zone Management permits. It cannot be in violation of V.I. law."
Probably not coincidentally, the St. Thomas CZM Committee was meeting Thursday to make a decision on a major permit for the Botany Bay development.
Opposition to the rezoning has been constant and considerable at public hearings and CZM meetings. DPNR officials recommended that a zoning variance be considered instead of the zoning change sought by Botany Bay Partners, the developers planning to build a
$165 million resort on the pristine land at the far western tip of St. Thomas.
A variance would have allowed the developers to move ahead with their project while binding them to plans approved specifically for the use of the land.
Botany Bay Partners officials have said they are sensitive to environmental and cultural concerns about the area. Rezoning opponents have noted that a variance would prevent the developers from drastically changing their plans or selling the property with new zoning to other developers.
The seven senators voting against rezoning were Lorraine Berry, Adelbert Bryan, Douglas Canton Jr., Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Alicia "Chucky" Hansen, Norma Pickard-Samuel and Vargrave Richards. Richards is Turnbull's running mate in the November election.
Several other candidates' posters, in addition to those mentioned, have been vandalized, too. A series of posters, including one of Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II and his running mate, Maryleen Thomas, on Julian Jackson Highway by the airport turnoff have been slashed. Another of Turnbull and Richards on Raphune Hill was defaced.
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