Home News Local news BEAL LAND SWAP CASE TO BE DECIDED WEDNESDAY

BEAL LAND SWAP CASE TO BE DECIDED WEDNESDAY

0

The first legal challenge of the Beal Aerospace-V.I. government land exchange will be decided Wednesday in Territorial Court.
Judge Alphonso Andrews announced Monday that he will issue his decision Wednesday at 10 a.m. on whether to grant Sen. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen a permanent injunction against the land swap or allow the Legislature's vote to stand.
The land exchange deal, approved by the Legislature on Oct. 5, would give Beal 14.5 acres of government land, called Camp Arawak, so that the company can build its $57-million world headquarters and rocket assembly plant. The company already owns more than 250 acres in the area, but it needs the Camp Arawak property for a portion of its proposed 320,000-square-foot building and adjacent parking lot. In exchange for the land, the government would receive an equivalent amount of acreage in Estate Whim and Grange Hill.
The late Frank Wiesner deeded the Camp Arawak land in perpetuity to the people of the territory on Dec. 17, 1974. The property was to be held in trust by the government, which was supposed to develop it into a park.
Hansen, however, contends that the government has no right to trade the land, which houses archeological ruins that date to the Danish colonial and pre-Columbian eras. On Oct. 8, Andrews granted Hansen’s request for a temporary restraining order against the land deal. Andrews ruled Gov. Charles Turnbull violated the public trust when he sent the land exchange agreement to the Senate for approval.
Ned Jacobs, Hansen's attorney who lives adjacent to Camp Arawak, said the outcome of the suit is up in the air.
"Only the judge and the law clerk know what he's thinking at this point," Jacobs said.
Whatever the outcome, more legal challenges await. The St. Croix Environmental Association and the Virgin Islands Conservation Society have filed their own lawsuit in Territorial Court to stop the exchange. SEA’s suit claims, among other things, that the government entered into a special agreement with Beal, thereby violating the Constitutional provision guaranteeing equal protection under the law. The environmental group’s complaint includes allegations of violations of the V.I.’s Revised Organic Act, which is a federal statute that mandates certain portions of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights apply to the Virgin Islands.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here