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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Bookstore, Restaurant and Office Projects Seeking Zoning Changes

Testifying at Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting were Juanita Fergus, left, who requested a rezoning, and Stuart Smith, who heads the Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning Division at DPNR. St. Croix residents’ plans for a bookstore, restaurant, apartments and offices got a preliminary thumbs-up Tuesday, with Planning and Natural Resources supporting four use variances and rezoning plans during a Committee of the Whole meeting of the Legislature. No votes were taken at the information gathering hearing, but all the senators present publicly stated their intention to vote for all three measures when they are brought up for a vote.

Juanita Fergus is asking to rezone Parcel No. 1-AM Estate Diamond, Queen Quarter, St. Croix from R-2 residential, low density, one and two family, to B-3 business scattered. The property will continue to have apartments and an office building, but Fergus proposes to build a small take-out restaurant to serve local cuisine. The property is the former location of Little Buddies Development Center and was converted to apartments after the center closed.

Nearly all the nearby lots are zoned business now and "have coexisted with nearby residences for decades," said Stuart Smith, who heads the Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning Division at the Planning and Natural Resources Department.

Julio Angel Soto wants to rezone Parcel No. 6-1 Estate Peter’s Rest, Queen Quarter, St. Croix from R-2 residential, low-density to B-3, business-scattered. Currently the roughly quarter-acre property has two buildings: a single family residence and a bar and pool room.

The home will remain and the bar will be converted to one or two offices.

Soto said the existing restaurant has been trouble-free and he has no intention of displacing it, but he believes offices are a better fit with the location and, if or when the tenants decide to move on, he wants to make the conversion.

"I truly enjoy moving from a pool room to a professional office,” Senate President Ronald Russell said. “Let me just tell you that one tickled me." Russell was also happy to hear the Sotos were not forcing the tenant out.

Jane and Marcel Felix are applying for a use variance to the C-Commercial zoned plot 2B-1 Estate Mt. Pleasant, Prince Quarter, St. Croix. The property is roughly 0.9 acres and contains a two-story store, "Jane’s Bridal Boutique," a clothing store owned by the applicants. The variance would allow the Felixes to use a portion of the second floor as two residential apartments.

Reynaldo and Aida Lopez want a use variance to Plot No. 37-A Estate Castle Coakley, Queen Quarter, St. Croix, which is zoned R-2, residential-low density. The Lopezes want to build a religious bookstore and radio broadcasting studio.

No votes were taken. Russell said all four items would be considered at the next legislative session in late August.

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