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Botany Bay Project Gets OK from CZM Committee

July 25, 2006 – The Coastal Zone Management Committee unanimously approved Botany Bay Partners' two major permit applications Tuesday night — but with 31 special conditions.
The special conditions on the permits for the $200 million upscale resort and residential community to be developed on St. Thomas' West End include:
— implementing erosion control measures prior to commencement of work;
— planting only indigenous or historically adapted species of trees and plants;
— providing at least a four-foot-wide path to Sandy Beach and Mermaid's Chair, to be used for public access, along with providing transportation for the elderly and handicapped;
— keeping construction vehicles off the public roadway;
— allowing construction work only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday; and
— taking all solid waste to the Bovoni Landfill.
The special conditions also require special consideration to be given to turtle nesting areas.
The developers were required to obtain two permits – one specifically for the reverse osmosis plant. The special conditions for that permit called for three additional screws to be placed on the first 15 feet of the intake and discharge lines for the plant, and anchors to be placed every 20 feet instead of every 25 feet.
Furthermore, in the event of a hurricane, tropical storm or waves greater than three feet, the developers will be required to monitor the first 10 feet of the lines and report any breaches to the CZM committee along with a mitigation plan.
The developers are also required to post a bond equal to 25 percent of the construction costs of the project to insure against environmental damages.
Environmentalists, who have for years fought development at the 365-acre ecologically and archaeologically sensitive estate once owned by the Corning family, seemed resigned Tuesday night after the meeting.
"We knew they were going to get the permits," said community activist Jason Budsan.
Carla Joseph, president of the Environmental Association of St. Thomas, expressed several lingering concerns. She said the Environmental Assessment Report does not address the demolition of the "beach house," a structure built in the '60s that lies a few feet from the shoreline in Botany Bay. Joseph said it is unknown how they plan to take down the building and whether or not it might contain asbestos.
Joseph was also worried about the impact of the Botany Bay project's solid waste on the already taxed landfill on the other side of the island. She also said she felt the developers minimized the impact on traffic the project will have, including trucking waste to the East End.
As far as public access to the beaches, she said, "I would like to see more than seven parking spots [for locals]."
In an earlier meeting Botany Bay Partners had agreed, Joseph said, to provide water for the nearby Bordeaux farmers. "There was nothing said about that tonight," she noted.
In other issues directly impacting the development's neighbors, Botany Bay Partners, as part of its special conditions, will be required to make arrangements with Public Works and pay for DPW to repave the section of Route 30 between Estate Hope and the development following the completion of Phase One of the project and immediately address any other damage caused during the construction, specifically potholes.
For more details on the history of the development and environmental concerns, see "CZM Meeting to Decide Botany Bay Future."
The decision hearing, held at the DPNR conference room at Cyril E. King Airport, was attended by committee members Austin "Babe" Monsanto, chairman; Sarah "Peggy" Simmonds; Winston Adams; Fern LaBorde; and Henry Harrigan.
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