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CZM Committee Approves Plans to Scale Back Pond Bay Club

Oct. 10, 2007 — With one dissenting vote, the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee Wednesday gave First American Development Group/Carib Limited Partnership the okay to modify its existing permit for Pond Bay Club.
The modification reduces the height and number of units at the luxury hotel in Chocolate Hole.
First American now plans to build 50 units instead of 56 and make all the buildings two stories tall rather than one, two and three stories in height. The changes were necessary to meet the conditions imposed when the CZM Committee approved the permit in January, said Theresa Roberts, the developer's architect.
Other changes include elimination of two tennis courts and a reduction in the road width from 20 to 12 feet. Eight hundred feet of roadway will be relocated away from the mangrove and salt pond, and the number of parking spaces will be reduced from 56 to 50.
The developer will also provide three parking spaces at the beach for Chocolate Hole residents to use.
Developer Bob Emmett said after the meeting he plans to start mobilizing immediately to start the project.
"It will take 24 months — Mother Nature willing," he said.
CZM Committee member Gerald Hills cast the only no vote. He questioned Pond Bay Club removing derelict boats and some vegetation from the beach.
"The developer is taking matters into its own hands," he said, arguing that Pond Bay Club is not authorized to clean up the beach.
However, Bio-Impact's Amy Dempsey, a consultant hired by the developer, said Pond Bay Club was working with the Planning and Natural Resources Department in trying to locate the boat owners and clear the beach.
The matter first came to light at the meeting when Hills read from a June report submitted by Pond Bay Club that indicated a track hoe was used to remove derelict boats and scrub vegetation from the beach. That practice was quickly stopped since all such work is to be done by hand, Dempsey said.
"Whether they are using a track hoe or not, they should not be doing any beach maintenance," Hills said.
However, he stressed during and after the meeting that there is a 50-foot setback at the beach that can't be touched by the developer.
The project has been a long time coming. 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. Despite the opposition, the CZM Committee granted the permit several weeks later.
On Sept. 19, 2006, the CZM turned down First American'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. Another public hearing was held Dec. 14, 2006, and the permit granted Jan. 11.
Attending the meeting were Hills, CZM Chairwoman Madaline Sewer and members Andrew Penn Jr. and Edmond Roberts.
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