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CZM Committee Agains Considers Pond Bay Club

Dec. 14, 2006 – Pond Bay Club was back before the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee Thursday in another attempt to get its project at Chocolate Hole under way.
"We're ready to go," First American Managing Director Robert Emmett said.
He said he had the financing, marketing and management group in place.
The committee on Sept. 19 turned down First American Development Group/Carib Limited Partnership's request for an extension of its Feb. 15, 2002 CZM permit because the company had not started work on the Pond Bay Club project within one year as required by CZM regulations.
This decision forced First American to reapply for another permit.
About 35 residents turned out for the meeting, held at a small Westin Resort and Villas conference room because Committee Chairman Julian Harley said he was told the usual venue for such meetings, the Legislature building, was not available.
First American's condominium project includes10 two-bedroom units, 42 three-bedroom units and four four-bedroom units in seven one-story buildings, seven two-story buildings and six three-story buildings.
The project includes a restaurant/bar, a lobby, office and spa/fitness center, as well as two tennis courts and two swimming pools. Additionally, the project calls for 121 parking spaces.
Most of the approximately half-dozen people, most of them neighbors, who spoke at the meeting had concerns, but two spoke in favor.
"This piece of property was intended to be a resort, and most of the people who bought property knew it was going to be a resort," St. John resident Susan Stair said.
She said she was in favor of the project because it could be a plus for St. John.
St. John resident Robert O'Connor Jr. said that when plans were proposed for the Westin, residents expressed similar concerns. "And this has been one of the best things for St. John," he said, referring to the Westin.
St. John resident Lisa Durgin said that St. John had grown tremendously since the CZM approved the Pond Bay Club's permit in 2002.
Showing photos of the enormous number of people that arrive on St. John every day for work, she said that St. John does not have an unemployment problem and therefore, wasn't in need of the jobs that the Pond Bay Club would provide. She said that St. John also has plenty of hotel rooms, with over 500 villas available for rent.
Durgin said that St. John does, however, have a parking problem, as well as other infrastructure problems that will be worsened by the project.
Mentioning two recent large developments, Grande Bay and Sirenusa, Durgin asked the committee members to take St. John's infrastructure issues into account.
"I ask you to protect the island from the rape and pillage that has been allowed to happen in the last four and a half years," Durgin said.
St. John resident Margaret Merrill asked the CZM members to take the increased traffic that will come with the project into account when they make their decision.
St. John resident Virginia Thornthwaite said she was concerned about the impact on the water of Chocolate Hole. "And I hope you will be willing to address the neighbors' concerns about noise," she said.
St. John resident Sharon Coldren asked why the developer wasn't asking for the water permit at the same time as the land permit.
CZM Director Victor Somme III said it was at the developer's discretion to apply separately.
The project has had troubles from the start. Another company started work in 1986 but failed to complete the job — leaving behind a big cistern and a denuded beach at Chocolate Hole.
First American took over the project in 1999. After neighbors vehemently opposed the project at a Jan. 15, 2001, public hearing, First American withdrew its initial CZM application. It reapplied, but neighbors were again opposed at a Jan. 23, 2002, public hearing. However, the CZM Committee granted the permit.
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