Home News Local news CZM Committee Gives Green Light to Chocolate Hole Hotel Project

CZM Committee Gives Green Light to Chocolate Hole Hotel Project

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Jan. 11, 2007 – The St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee on Thursday voted 3-1 to allow the Pond Bay Club developer to build a luxury hotel at Chocolate Hole.
"I'm concerned about the potential environmental impacts to the wetlands, salt pond and bay," said CZM Committee member Gerald Hills, explaining why he cast the lone "no" vote.
CZM Committee Chairman Julien Harley told developer Robert Emmett that the committee planned to hold First American Development Group/Carib Limited Partnership to the more than two-dozen conditions imposed in the permit.
"Good luck, and we expect a good product from you," Harley said.
CZM Committee members Andrew Penn and Edmond Roberts also attended the meeting held at the Legislature building. Madeline Sewer was absent.
Emmett said after the meeting that construction will start in the next few months, with the project taking about two years to complete. He said he is now working out details with the contractor.
Most of the conditions imposed by CZM were routine, but the committee told the developers that when possible, construction materials should be obtained on St. John.
Additionally, the CZM conditions stipulated that First American could not do any beach nourishment.
Earlier in the meeting, architect Theresa Roberts said that beach nourishment was not planned for the project. She added that First American no longer plans to build a reverse osmosis plant to supply water. She said that instead, the company plans to hook up to the V.I. Water and Power Authority's in-the-works undersea line that will bring potable water across Pillsbury Sound from St. Thomas.
She said that the line should be in place by the time Pond Bay is ready to hook up.
Roberts said that any homeowner who lives between where the line comes ashore in Cruz Bay and Pond Bay's location at Chocolate Hole could tap into the water line.
"It seems like it will benefit Chocolate Hole and the community," she said.
Amy Dempsey of Bio-Impact said the effluent from the wastewater treatment plant will be used for landscape irrigation, with the sludge going to the Bovoni landfill.
According to the conditions, First American must also post bonds worth 25 percent of each phase of construction to ensure that the project gets completed.
The company plans to build 10 two-bedroom units and 42 three- and four-bedroom units in a total of 20 buildings. Seven are one-story buildings, seven are two-story buildings and six are three-story buildings. The project covers 13.55 acres.
The project has been a long time coming. Another company started work in 1986 but failed to complete the job, leaving behind a big cistern and a denuded beach at Chocolate Hole.
First American took over the project in 1999. After neighbors vehemently opposed the project at a Jan. 15, 2001, public hearing, First American withdrew its initial CZM application. It reapplied but neighbors were again opposed at a Jan. 23, 2002, public hearing. Despite the opposition, CZM Committee granted the permit several weeks later.
Then, on Sept. 19, 2006, the CZM turned down First American's request for an extension of its Feb. 15, 2002, CZM permit because the company had not started work on the Pond Bay Club project within one year, as required by CZM regulations.
This decision forced First American to reapply for another permit. Another public hearing was held Dec. 14, 2006.
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