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Questions Arise About Who Will Benefit From Plan

Sept. 8, 2004 – The Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan, presented to about 75 St. John residents at a Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee meeting on Wednesday, is just a place to start, said Sen. Louis P. Hill, who chairs the committee.
"Residents will have an opportunity to make comments. We want to involve the community at every step of the way," he said.
Residents can voice their opinions about the plan at an Oct. 5 town meeting on the subject. It will be held at the Legislature building in St. John.
Similar hearings will take place on St. Croix — Sept. 21 at St. Gerard's Hall in Frederiksted and Sept. 23 at the American Legion Hall in Christiansted.
In St. Thomas, meetings are Sept. 28 at Bertha C. Boschulte School auditorium and on Sept. 30 at the University of the Virgin Island's Chase Auditorium.
All meetings begin at 6 p.m.
Those in the audience on Wednesday listened as Stevie Henry of University of Virgin Island's Conservation Data Center explained the technological aspects of creating the Intensity District Maps.
The Intensity Districts are the heart of the plan, created under the auspices of the Planning and Natural Resources Department, and they replace the zoning districts currently in use. Instead of 18 zones, the territory will have under the Land and Water Use Plan seven land districts and five water districts.
Some of the districts indicated on the map raised murmurs from those in the audience. For example, Caneel Bay, now home to the one-story Caneel Bay Resort, under the plan will be considered a High Density District. And the area east of Francis Bay to Annaberg, now almost undeveloped, is also considered a High Density District.
A High Density District allows a range of uses that include one- and two-family homes, hotels, gas stations, shopping centers, and post offices.
Although the public did not have a chance to speak at the meeting, the senators did.
Sen. Roosevelt David said that the plan was environmentally driven rather than taking into account the island's need for economic development. "That's what puts food on the table," he said.
Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd said he feared that "indigenous and people who come here" will be prevented from developing their property.
Marjorie Emmanuel, who serves as director of Planning's Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning program, said that the plan utilizes a single-tier system, rather than the two-tier system now in use. This means that development on the hillsides will get the scrutiny now reserved for development along the shoreline.
She said the decision on whether to issue a major or minor Coastal Zone Management permit would be based on location and size rather than price, as is the current practice.
This is Planning's second attempt to forge a Land and Water Use Plan. The first one, developed in 1994 through 1995, never made it through the Legislative process. It has been under discussion since 1970.
You can access the Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan .
To view the maps, click here .
Note: These files are very large and could take several minutes to
download.
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