Sept. 20, 2004 – Businessmen, developers, homebuyers, homeowners and the V.I. government now have a valuable tool that details demographics, population density and slope analysis of the islands.
Thanks to a project undertaken by the Conservation Data Center at the University of the Virgin Islands, a Geographical Information System is being developed. Residents and developers can access GIS maps that detail the topography of any parcel of land in the Virgin Islands.
The system brings the art of mapmaking into the modern age. If boundaries change, property ownership changes or if a stream washes away a hillside, the map can be immediately updated. The first edition of the CDC-developed maps will be used as the basis for the Land and Water Use Plan.
The maps were officially handed over from UVI to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources in a Sunday afternoon ceremony in the ballroom at Government House. Dean C. Plaskett, DPNR commissioner, called the project "a significant step" toward making informed land-use planning decisions. Plaskett thanked Gov. Charles W. Turnbull for "moving the plan forward."
DPNR considered several off-island providers to design the maps, Plaskett said, but found the data center at UVI "most qualified" to initiate and complete the project. Data for the maps was collected with the cooperation of the lieutenant governor's office. "The work has only just begun," Plaskett said.
The CDC is training DPNR personnel to update and amend the computer-generated maps based on public input. Town meetings are planned to give the public an opportunity to give feedback. All the meetings on the plan are at 6 p.m. They are Sept. 21, at St. Gerard's Hall in Frederiksted, St. Croix; Sept. 23 at the American Legion Hall in Christiansted, St. Croix; Sept. 28, Bertha C. Boschulte School auditorium, St. Thomas; Sept. 30, at the UVI Chase Auditorium, St. Thomas; and Oct. 5 at the Legislature Building in Cruz Bay, St. John.
UVI President LaVerne Ragster said the maps would give "verifiable data of the topography of the islands." She credited the Department of Interior with assisting in the establishment of the CDC. Ragster said the information provided by the maps would be invaluable to developers. "When CZM meetings occur, there is a planning framework," Ragster said. Information such as flood zones, water tables and bedrock formation can be analyzed in anticipation of construction proposals.
Ragster said Stevie Henry, data manager with the Data Center, was instrumental in creating the maps. Henry urged homeowners to get involved in the project by attending the town meetings.
"Planning is participatory," Henry said. "People need to get involved in determining how their property and surrounding property is developed." Henry said public input is needed to determine increases or decreases in property density and zoning. Before changes are considered, owners can see if there are mitigating factors that would limit of their development of the property, Henry said.
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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