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Senate Approves Four Nominees to CZM Commission

June 27, 2006 – The second half of Tuesday's full Legislative session covered a variety of issues, with senators airing complaints relative to rising energy costs, development throughout the territory and limited access for residents to V.I. beaches.
However, at the end of five hours, senators did approve six nominations to various government boards and commissions, five resolutions and a number of zoning requests.
Senators also unanimously confirmed Judge Ive A. Swan for the V.I. Superior Court, Willis C. Todman as administrator of the Government Employees Retirement System and Jerris T. Browne as director of the Motor Vehicle Bureau.
Debate on nominees to the Coastal Zone Management Commission, however, spurred some discussion from senators. While some thought the organization hinders development in the territory by refusing to grant applications for various projects, others expressed the view that the commission restricts the rights of residents to access public beaches.
Senators then advised prospective nominees to find a balance between the two extremes by supporting developments which would both improve the economy and protect the territory's natural resources.
Resolutions designating the towns of Christiansted and Fredericksted on St. Croix and Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas as Preserve America sites were also approved during the session.
While Sen. Celestino A. White said many of the resolutions on the agenda were sponsored because of the upcoming campaign season, Sen. Louis P. Hill explained that participating in the federal Preserve America Initiative "seeks to do some very significant things in the territory."
"By passing these resolutions, we're recognizing our historic communities and indicating that the V.I. is ready to support innovative things like historical tourism," he said. "This could also improve the potential for bringing more revenue into the territory."
According to the initiative's Web site, Preserve America "supports community efforts to preserve and enjoy our country's priceless cultural and natural heritage." The goals of the initiative include "a greater shared knowledge of our Nation's past, strengthened regional identities and local pride, increased local participation in preserving our country's cultural and national heritage assets and support for the economic vitality of our communities."
While the resolutions were approved, Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste said the Legislature should also be sponsoring bills "which look out for the rights of citizens" – particularly those residents who are unhappy with the cost of their water and electricity bills.
"I received a letter from a constituent who said their WAPA bill last month was $104," Jn Baptiste said. "Then this month, they received a bill which stated that while their regular charges equaled $75, the LEAC (levelized energy adjustment clause) factor brought their bill up to $207.69. That's just ridiculous."
To address this issue, Jn Baptiste attempted to special order a bill to the floor, which he said would "bring relief to ratepayers throughout the territory."
Senators instead voted to send the bill to the Committee of the Whole for debate within the next 30 days.
A resolution honoring and commending Maria M. Cabret, the presiding judge of the V.I. Superior Court, was also held in the full body for amendments.
In other action, senators approved:
–a resolution to honor and commend Anne "Grandma Luge" Abernathy for her outstanding contribution to the community and in the field of winter sports.
–a resolution to honor and commend Laverne Jones for her outstanding performance in track and field.
–an act commemorating the life and memory of the late Charles Edward Taylor, the world's first airplane mechanic, by designating May 24 of each year as Aviation Maintenance Technician Day.
–a use variance to allow for the relocation of law offices in
Charlotte Amalie to a site in Estate Solberg on St. Thomas.
–a rezoning request (from R-3 Residential – Medium Density to B-2
Business -Secondary/Neighborhood) to allow for the expansion of the
Villa Blanca Hotel on Raphune Hill.
–a rezoning request for Parcel No. 71 in Estate Castle Coakley,
Queens Quarter, St. Croix from I-2 (Light Industry) to B-3 (Business
scattered) to allow for the construction of apartment buildings, a
laundry facility and parking area.
–a rezoning request for the remainder of Plot No. 4-I Sion Farm,
Queens Quarter St. Croix (east of the United Shopping Center and west
of the new Cost-U-Less building on the northern quarter of the Queen
Mary Highway) from R-2 (residential) to C (commercial) to allow for the
development of a gas station, mini mart and welding shop.
–a rezoning request for Plot No. 140F Estate St. Georges, Prince
Quarter, St. Croix from R-2 (residential) to B-3 (business scattered)
to allow for the development of a small shopping center.
Nominees approved Tuesday were:
CZM Commission
Robert L. Merwin
Charles D. Peters
Neil Simon
Masserae Sprauve-Webster
V.I. Board of Social Work Licensure
Carol L. Battuello
V.I. Housing Finance Authority Board
Carmen Wesselhoft
All senators were present during Tuesday's session.
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