After a brief discussion, the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee Thursday agreed to let the Westin Resort and Villas extensively renourish a beach decimated in October 2010’s Hurricane Otto.
“If it needs 1,700 cubic yards of sand it seems to say that 1,700 cubic yards of sand washed into the bay,” CZM Committee member Jerry Hills said at the meeting held at the Westin.
Architect Theresa Roberts said that the Westin had engineers looking into how to prevent a similar occurrence when the next round of big storms occurs.
When the sand washed out during Otto, a seven-foot drop was created. CZM Director Jean-Pierre Oriol said that the 1,700 cubic yards of sand necessary for the project will cover about 79,000 square feet of space.
The Westin also asked for its CZM permit, first issued in 1982, to be modified so it could replace a concrete slab at its Snorkels Beach Bar, place an event tent several times a year on a concrete pad inland from the beach and for event tents to be allowed on the beach for occasional functions.
After some discussion about the beach tents, which Oriol suggested could interfere with the public’s right to use the beach as well as the movement of endangered species on the beach, two of the three CZM members at the meeting agreed to the modification of the Westin’s permit. However, Hills added a condition to ensure the tents are down by noon the day after they’re used.
The CZM members declined the request to allow the Westin to place its beach chairs permanently on the beach. Instead, they’ll have to stack them up each night.
In the vote for modification, Hills and CZM member Madeline Sewer said yes. CZM member Andrew Penn abstained. He later said that he didn’t vote because his family business, Penn Trucking, might be involved in trucking sand to the beach. CZM member Edmond Roberts was absent.
With no discussion, the three CZM members allowed a one-year extension for the G.E. Marsh Legacy Group for its Coral Bay commercial and residential development, but told the V.I. Water and Power Authority to come back when it had more information on its plans to install an undersea electrical cable between St. Thomas and St. John. Amy Dempsy of the environmental consulting company Bio-Impact said the cable would provide redundancy.
At issue for the CZM members were three telephone poles near WAPA’s Frank Bay plant. Hills said the poles are no longer in use since the existing undersea cable reaches St. John through a manhole. Penn said the poles are unsightly.
“There’s also a chain link fence. None of this is very appealing,” Hills added.
When WAPA engineer Cordell Jacobs Jr. couldn’t answer any questions about the poles, the three CZM members agreed to table the matter until WAPA met with CZM staff to clear up the details.
The CZM members also agreed to temporarily modify First American Development Group/Carib Limited Partnership CZM permit for the Pond Bay Club. The project, which Oriol said was 65 percent complete, is in receivership, and construction on the rest of the resort stopped.
The receiver, Richard A. Morawetz, asked that CZM consider the resort to be in a post-construction phase since no work is ongoing. This will allow it to reduce the amount of environmental monitoring necessary.