Oct. 19, 2005Requests to rezone parcels of land on St. Thomas caused friction between neighbors at the Senate's Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday evening.
Attorney Roy Anduze Jr. began the first battle, asking for a parcel of land behind the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, close to Raphune Hill, to be rezoned from R-2, residential-low density, to B-2, business/secondary neighborhood. Anduze, who previously owned the property , said he has been petitioning for the rezoning since 2001 so he can turn the building on the property into office space and a medical clinic. However, the request includes 190 possible uses for the space.
Anduze said since the land is located next to the hospital, as well as other medical complexes and the Wheatley Center and Lockhart Gardens shopping centers, there should be no problem with the land being rezoned from residential to business. Anduze said the property, which he sold in July to Viana Investments LLC for tax purposes, is currently not being used for anything. "It is an expense to me, and not of benefit to anyone," Anduze said.
Marjorie Emmanuel, representative from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said DPNR supports the request, as a medical clinic will compliment the other existing businesses in the area. While Emmanuel did state DPNR opposed Anduze's initial request in 2001, she said the area has changed in the past four years, and therefore the rezoning would not adversely affect anyone in the area.
Luz A. Moron, who lives in the area, disagreed. Moron said she has been opposing the request for rezoning since Anduze's first appearance in 2001. While Moron said she is not opposed to the idea of a medical clinic or office space on the property, she said a change in zoning would allow the property, to potentially be used for the operation of nightclubs, bowling alleys, or other public businesses.
Moron, as a resident, does not want the surrounding area to be overtaken by commercial development. She suggested Anduze petition for a variance which only allows the property to be used for the stated purpose. It is transferable.
Anduze applied for and received a variance in 2001 for a restaurant. He never opened the restaurant, he said, because it wouldn't have been lucrative.
Anduze said the property is separated from the Morons by seven other buildings, which Anduze also owns. "They can't even see the building from their property," Anduze said. "I can't even see it from my house, and I live closer to the property than they do."
Senators made it clear they supported the Morons, who said Anduze's statements were not true. Sen. Louis P. Hill said a compromise could be reached, however, if a properly drafted variance were able to incorporate all of Anduze's requests.
The quibbling between neighbors continued with a request for rezoning by Lillian and Felix Greaux, to change Parcel No. 11-D-11, Estate Solberg from R-1, residential low density to R-3, residential medium density. The land, owned by the Greauxs, is located at the base of the road leading up to Mountain Top, and is adjacent to another parcel where the Greauxs live.
Felix Greaux testified he is trying to construct two apartment buildings on the land which will each house fours apartment units. A letter submitted during the meeting by Greaux's daughter Michelle Montenegro, said these units were being built in honor of the couple's grandchildren. Greaux added the buildings will also bring in a steady stream of revenue for the family.
While Greaux initially admitted he should have filed for a use variance for the property, he became defensive when neighbors Carlton Adams and Claude Berry voiced their opposition to the rezoning. Both Berry and Adams said the change would comprise the ambiance of the neighborhood, as well as cause sewage from the development to run to their houses.
Emmanuel said DPNR's investigation of the area revealed the soil on the property did not allow for sewage to penetrate, and therefore, a wastewater treatment facility would have to be built in order to filter any unwanted waste to prevent runoff from appearing in residents' yards. Because of this, Emmanuel said the request should be held by senators in committee, so DPNR could sit down with Greaux and discuss the runoff problems.
Greaux said any sewage runoff or leak "could not possibly affect" Adams and Berry because both residents have their homes located above Greaux on the island's North Side.
Adams and Berry responded by saying they were not opposed to the building of two-apartment dwellings but they were opposed to the four-unit structures Greaux is proposing and to the rezoning which would change the density in the area.
Claude Berry made an impassioned plea for the zoning to remain R-1 saying he had finally gotten his piece of paradise and didn't want development in the area to overtake his peace and privacy.
Hugh Pemberton requested a zoning change for a parcel of land adjacent to the Smith Bay road from R-1, residential low density to B-2 Business -Secondary/Neighborhood and R-4 Residential – Medium Density to build a commercial center with offices and a mini mart and condominiums.
But Aquannette Chinnery, who has a house on the hillside, said the neighbors are opposed to the development. Pemberton has been trying to develop the parcel of land for years and for years, Chinnery said, the residents in the area have fought it.
Chinnery said there is already new office space located in the Cassi Hill East development, right across the street from where Pemberton proposes to build his offices. "The businesses across the streetsometimes their alarms will go off at 3 a.m., or there are kids hanging around downstairs that shoot each other. That's what will happen if a new development moves in," Chinnery said.
Emmanuel recommended the parcel of land on the hillside be granted a use variance for the building of condominiums instead of it being rezoned. Emmanuel said DPNR had no objection to the business use rezoning.
Two rezoning requests in Subbase met with no objections by anyone.
The V.I. Port Authority requested a rezoning in the Crown Bay area from water-front industrial (W-2 ) to Business-Secondary/Neighborhood (B-2) for office space. Darlan Brin, VIPA executive director, said some of the property will be used by the Bureau of Internal Revenue for office space. Brin said the construction of the new offices will complement the surrounding businesses in the area, and restore the dilapidated buildings that once housed Caribbean Steel and Kline Electrical.
The Housing Finance Authority has asked for the same rezoning in the same area to build offices and a small shopping plaza. Clifford Graham, the Authority's executive director, said the property looks over those which VIPA wants to rezone, and will further contribute to the revitalization of the Crown Bay area.
No objections were registered to two other requests, which were for:
— a use variance for Parcel No. 171, Altona & Welgunst, zoned commercial, to allow Impacting Your World Christian Ministries to conduct church services and space for office use, and youth services.
— a rezoning of Parcels No. 17C, 17D, and 17D, in Smith Bay from Agricultural to Commercial for a parking lot.
The requests must now be drafted as bills and presented at the Legislature's next full session.
Present at the meeting were Sens. Lorraine L. Berry, Craig W. Barshinger, Roosevelt C. David, Liston Davis, Pedro "Pete" Encarnacion, Juan Figueroa-Serville, Louis P. Hill, Neville James, Norman Jn Baptiste, Usie Richards, and Ronald Russell. Sens. Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg, Shawn-Michael Malone, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, and Celestino A. White Sr. were absent.
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