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Aug. 17, 2004 – An updated version of the Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan that has bounced around the islands for years will surface once again this week at a Senate hearing Wednesday night on St. Croix.
The upcoming hearings that move to St. Thomas next week and St. John in early September are informational in nature, according to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Usie Richards. "They will be a presentation of what the plan includes," to be followed at a date to be determined by public hearings.
In Richard's view the most important aspect of the plan is that it will put an end to spot zoning.
A 1995 report issued by Planning and Natural Resources stated that between 1980 and 1994 the department received requests to re-zone 1,050 acres of land in the St. Thomas-St. John District.
Conservationist Dayle Barry, pointed out in an op-ed piece published in December 2000, that the 1,050 acres broke down to 75 acres per year for the period reported on.
Richards said Tuesday, the plan will provide a mechanism for orderly growth and development.
The current bill No. 25-0209 is similar to the earlier version, but this one comes with a set of easily understood maps, developed by the Conservation Data Center at the University of the Virgin Islands. (They are attached at the end of the article for viewing as PDF files, along with the entire 284-page plan.)The maps were developed using the Geographic Information System (GIS).
Stevie Henry, data manager of the center, said the maps "are essential to the territory's Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan because they indicate locations where growth or conservation are likely to occur." The maps have legends on the lower left hand side that provide keys to what is represented on the maps. There is one for each island; St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix.
Henry said, "When you present the information using maps, it's more compelling. "
The 1995 DPNR report laid out several reasons for implementing a land and water use plan, which included, but was not limited to:
– To provide specific standards for the protection of beaches, salt ponds, mangrove ecosystems, wetlands, and off-shore cays, conserving the natural functions of these systems.
– To establish a uniform permitting system, ensuring that the physical, social and economic impacts of all major development (including subdivisions) are considered in public forums.
– To establish a pattern of concentrating development in areas with existing infrastructure, thus lowering the cost of providing infrastructure to new development, to curtail sprawl, and to insure more efficient use of limited land area.
– To reintroduce traditional patterns of land development, guide zoning for all territorial lands, waters and submerged lands and provide a unified development management system for the entire coastal zone.
– To insure that appropriate recreational facilities are provided in large residential developments and subdivisions.
– To establish a territorial land and water use policy that would provide guidance to the territory's growth into the 21st century.
– To provide for planned residential development and cluster development, and facilitate creative development while conserving more open space.
The version that went through the long series of pubic hearings back in 1995, failed to become law.
Wednesday night's meeting on St. Croix starts at 6 p.m. The St. Thomas meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24 at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers; and the St. John meeting will also begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8 at the Legislative Conference Room in Cruz Bay.
You can access the Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan here.
To view the maps click here .

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