Hearings on the lawsuit seeking to block the land exchange between the V.I. government and rocket mogul Andrew Beal will continue Thursday after more than seven hours of arguments in Territorial Court Wednesday.
In a marathon session that was to determine whether a preliminary injunction should be issued against the land swap, Judge Alphonso Andrews Jr. allowed lawyers for Caribbean Space Technologies to intervene in the case on the side of the government.
The hearing will continue at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Territorial Court at Kingshill.
Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen’s suit alleging the land exchange agreement is illegal named Gov. Charles Turnbull and the V.I. Legislature as defendants. However, Caribbean Space Technologies’ lawyers argued that they had significant interest in the case and should be allowed to enter the fray.
"I don’t think there is any doubt that Caribbean Space Technologies has direct interest in this property," said Beal attorney Daryl Dodson.
Caribbean Space Technologies LLC, a V.I. company, is 99 percent owned by Andrew Beal and is an affiliate, not a subsidiary of Beal Aerospace Technologies, which is fully owned by Texas real estate developer and fledgling rocket manufacturer Andrew Beal.
The land exchange agreement that was signed by former Gov. Roy Schneider at the end of 1998 and submitted to the Senate by Turnbull was between the government and Beal Aerospace Technologies. But when the Legislature approved the agreement on Oct. 5, it amended the bill to make Caribbean Space Technologies the legal company.
Turnbull cited that change in allowing the bill to pass into law without his signature. Andrews had questioned its legality and, by extension, Caribbean Space Technologies’ involvement in the lawsuit.
"The only way that CST can establish a significant probable interest … is through illegal action on the part of the governor of the Virgin Islands…" said Hansen’s attorney Ned Jacobs.
Despite Jacobs’ argument, though, Andrews ruled that Caribbean Space Technologies had a significant interest to protect.
As soon as Beal’s lawyers were allowed to be heard, they asked Andrews to dismiss the case. Dodson claimed Jacobs had failed to state a legitimate claim, in that the land exchange agreement, which became law Tuesday, did not violate the U.S. Constitution or the Revised Organic Act.
He also said the Legislature can legitimately amend, revise or make exceptions to prior legislation.
But Jacobs argued that under the equal-protection clause of the Constitution, the Legislature cannot favor one person or entity when making laws. He maintained that had been done on behalf of Caribbean Space Technologies.
Andrews then denied the motion to dismiss.
"The Court would have to find that it is a … special law," said Andrews.
Once that motion was out of the way, the hearing on the preliminary injunction began.
Hansen and the other 19 plaintiffs in the case contend that the land in question, 14.5 acres at Camp Arawak, was deeded to the people of the Virgin Island in perpetuity and cannot be sold or traded.
Jacobs called Beatrice York, executive director of Camp Arawak, and ecologist Olasee Davis to the stand.
York testified that Camp Arawak had been used as a summer youth camp almost continuously since 1984, when she became involved in the program. The camp moved to Estate Diamond Ruby last year, she said, because its site at Great Pond Bay was burglarized after Hurricane Georges and virtually all its equipment stolen.
Davis testified to the natural and historical significance of the Great Pond site. He said the property contains historical artifacts that are "extremely significant" to the people of the territory.
On Oct. 5, the Legislature approved the land swap so that Caribbean Space Technologies could acquire the Camp Arawak acreage for a portion of a parking lot at Beal’s proposed $57-million world headquarters and rocket assembly plant near Great Pond Bay.
Beal already has an option on approximately 260 acres adjacent to the bay. The 340,000-square-foot assembly plant would be the largest single structure in the Eastern Caribbean, occupying up to eight acres.


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