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Cruz Bay Zoning Request Draws Criticism from Residents

May 17, 2005 – A request to rezone two small parcels of land at the Grand Bay Resort condominium project in Cruz Bay brought numerous negative comments from St. John residents.
The condominium project was one of three rezoning requests heard on Tuesday by Planning and Natural Resource's Division of Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning.
Bay Isles Associates, which is building the Grand Bay Resort project, wants the rezoning from W-1, waterfront-pleasure, to R-4, residential-medium density, so the parcels have the same zoning as the rest of the R-4 zoned project. Most of the parcels in the neighborhood carry the R-4 designation.
If the company gets the rezoning to R-4, it wants a variance on the property so it can open a restaurant and a shop. Bay Isles Associates currently has the right to have a restaurant and shop under its W-1 zoning designation.
Parking was the main issue, although several people said they didn't believe owner's representative John Bedminster when he said the 10 to 12-table restaurant would cater to the Grand Bay Resort condominium residents.
"Did I understand that it's not open to the public? I find that hard to believe, that it's just for the use of residents," Ronald Lee said.
Bedminster subsequently said that the public would not be denied access. However, he said the restaurant has no parking and that patrons will have to use spaces allocated for residents. Bedminster said the condominium resort has 62 parking spaces for 48 units.
Residents' complaints that the condominiums will block their views and create more noise in an already congested neighborhood led St. John architect Rob Crane to explain how the project came to be allowed.
He said that although it is located across the street from Cruz Bay beach on the road to Gallows Point, it was exempt from the Coastal Zone Management rules.
"It was a loophole," he said.
Crane said that if it came under CZM control, the agency would have required public hearings so neighbors could have aired their concerns about the three floors of condos and the one-story parking area going up under their noses.
Neighbor Harlow Ellis said that while he realized St. John would never be the same place he moved to 20 years ago, he still wants the government do something to contain growth. He suggested that voters be given the option of saying yes or no to developments like these.
Crane suggested that developers be assessed impact fees to help improve the infrastructure to handle the increased growth.
"They're making the money and we're paying for it," Crane said to the applause of the several dozen people in the audience.
In response to questioning, Kelly Frye, a partner in the project, was unclear about why the company needs the properties to have one zoning designation rather than the R-4 and W-1 that currently exists. He told the Source they needed to consolidate because they had the same ownership and management, but could not elaborate further.
Brian Smith asked for a rezoning from R-1, residential, low density, to C, commercial. Several residents who lived near the Estate Adrian property initially expressed concerns. However, once he explained that the shopping center was planned to front on Centerline Road, not on property several hundred feet behind the parcel, their fears were calmed.
He said the two-story building will be 40 feet long and seven feet wide on an acre of land.
"You never came to us and told us what you were doing," neighbor Kyle Bruckner said.
The confusion arose because Smith is also building a house on property he owns near several houses in the same neighborhood as the planned shopping center.
Marjorie Emanuel, director of the Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning, urged Smith to rethink the Commercial zoning. She said he actually needed B-3, business scattered.
Jacqueline Jacobs asked for a rezoning from R-3, residential medium density, to B-3 or a variance so she and her sister, Karen Powell, can open a restaurant in a trailer at Grunwald.
The trailer fronts on .241 acres on Centerline Road, but patrons would use the driveway off Centerline Road that leads to an apartment complex.
Several neighbors spoke in support of the project.
"It's no problem to me and I'm just across the street," Mary Dalmida said.
Emanuel said her department will submit their report to the Legislature within 30 days for their action on the rezoning requests.

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