June 30, 2005 – The Senate Committee on Economic Protection, Planning and Environmental Protection on Wednesday rejected a Coastal Zone Management permit for Palace Place Resorts St. Thomas Real Estate, while approving three other CZM permits.
Palace Place Resorts St. Thomas asked for a permit to continue using an existing dock that has been operating without the proper permits since 1996.
Victor Somme III, Coastal Zone Management Director for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, recommended approval of the permit with certain restrictions to include no boat repair, maintenance or bottom scraping in the water or on shore; no live-aboard; no construction activities; and no handling of petroleum products.
Attorney Derek Hodge, representing Palace Place Resorts St. Thomas, said the renewal of the permit would assist in marketing the hotel, which is up for sale.
Committee Chairman Neville James said that CZM acted accordingly in bringing the permit application before the commission, but "we're talking about an applicant that unceremoniously closed down shop."
After less than a year of operation, the Grand Beach Palace Resort in Smith Bay shut its doors in August 2004, leaving its staff of nearly 300 persons out of work.
Sen. Celestino White Sr. spoke about how the hotel owners closed down and "left the employees out like dogs with no severance." He continued by saying he doesn't want a $9 million hotel to sell for $22 million when the company left the people of the Virgin Islands "without even a biscuit." White said, "Bring the new owner that wants to do business, and we'll deal with them."
"We're looking at a partner who wants a divorce before the marriage is even consummated," said Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste.
The committee rejected the permit with Sens. James, White, Usie R. Richards, Liston A. Davis and Norman Jn Baptiste voting to reject it, while Craig Barshinger abstained.
The committee unanimously approved the major CZM permit request for Carib Beach Hotel to bring into compliance the concrete dock, swimming pool and man-made beach located on submerged lands at Estate Lindberg Bay. The permit would also allow the placement of an L-shaped floating wooden platform that will be attached to the end of the existing concrete.
Louis de Lyrot, current owner of the Carib Beach Hotel, which was previously owned by William Dowling, said he planned further improvements for the hotel. "My first effort is to re-create a good-performing property and employ a larger group of people," de Lyrot said.
Senators also approved the CZM permit request for Compass Point Marina to build a new dock in Benner Bay to house 35 slips and reconfigure the existing dinghy dock. They also approved the permit request by ESSO Virgin Islands Inc. to legalize the existing facilities such as tanks, office and warehouse building, land use pipes, manifold and off-shore equipment on submerged lands located at the Cyril E. King Airport.
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