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HomeNewsArchivesMore than 250 Inner Brass Dock Opponents Attend CZM Hearing

More than 250 Inner Brass Dock Opponents Attend CZM Hearing

June 13, 2008 — Opponents of a proposed dock on Inner Brass Cay came out in force Thursday night, with more than 250 people attending a four-hour Coastal Zone Management Commission public hearing at Lockhart Elementary.
Developers presented plans for an 83-foot dock on Inner Brass' Sandy Bay, explaining that the dock will give them access to a single-family cottage that has already received a minor CZM permit authorization.
After the last hearing was cleared by V.I. Port Authority police, the crowd at the rescheduled meeting had clearly received some coaching on how to get their point across to the commission. There were no interruptions or shouting as in the first meeting. The North Side residents presented a unified front with presentations, slide shows and speeches.
Their testimony and evidence focused on demonstrating why the application should be denied.
Thirty-eight people signed up to testify. Many of the speakers were children who spoke of snorkeling and swimming in the waters near Inner Brass and talked about the dock's impact on wildlife.
Adult presenters spoke out against the dock on other issues. Several surfers who regularly enjoy the waves in Sandy Bay spoke of their familiarity with the surf there. Again and again, the opposition charged that the dock is merely a stepping stone to a more extensive development.
The principals of Island Green LLC, Randy Kell, Sarah Haynes and Corby Parfitt, conceded that early in their ownership, they entertained ideas of a residential development on the island. But as time went on they say they realized the economy and the island's ecology would significantly limit development on the cay, and scaled back their plans.
Opponents contend that those plans are still active, however.
David Olsen testified that the applicant was attempting an end run around the whole CZM process, saying Island Green proposed to achieve its goals by submitting piecemeal actions.
The applicants contend that their initial plans, although later scaled back, were held by opponents as their true intent for development.
"Our candor worked against us," Parfitt said.
Testimony against the application showed a number of studies, including GPS charting of coral, wave analysis and legal analysis.
Jose Belcher, who helped to coordinate the opposition, showed a chart detailing how often the dock would be unsafe for use because of heavy surf. Referring to other exhibits on coral and wildlife from the audience, Belcher detailed a scenario with a boat with a three-foot draft in a depth of six feet and a swell of six feet was bound to damage nearby coral.
"The application is a ridiculous attempt to downplay the impact on Sandy Bay." Belcher said.
Terry O'Hara and Nora Chapman both called into question the status of the LLC as a business registered in the territory, saying the entity had to be recognized in good standing by the lieutenant governor's office.
When questioned on this issue by Commissioner Sarah Simmonds, the applicant's attorney said the LLC is the applicant.
However, Dahlila Patton, attorney for the CZM, said Island Green's principals — rather than the LLC itself — are listed as the applicants. The LLC is listed as owner of the property. The issue will be investigated, Patton said.
The commission also asked whether the applicants had considered using adjacent property-holders' dock to access the cottage. Kell explained that relations with the other landholder are strained.
"It seems to me that to build two docks instead of one is not environmentally sound, just because two people can't get along," Simmonds said.
"You have a lot of property and just one cottage proposed," Commissioner Fern LaBorde said. "What are you going to do with the rest of your property? It would have been much better to come in with a master plan."
Present for the hearing were Commissioners Austin Monsanto, Winston Adams, Simmonds, LaBorde and Henry Harrigan.
While the commission will take up to 30 days to make a decision, the public can provide written comment for the next seven days. For more information, contact the CZM at 340-774-3320 or visit its website.
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