Home News Local news Leylon Sneed Application for Christmas Cove Dropped

Leylon Sneed Application for Christmas Cove Dropped


March 20, 2008 — Wild Thing Enterprises, LLC (WT Enterprises) has withdrawn its application before the Coastal Zone Management Committee (CZM) to moor a vessel housing a bar and restaurant in Christmas Cove, according to the company’s attorney, Marshall Bell.
Bell added, however, that his clients will be resubmitting a new application on behalf of the 115-foot Leylon Sneed, though he declined to say what location his clients would be citing in their next effort. A decision on WT Enterprises's application had been set for March 28.
Bell's announcement was coupled by one from the Friends of Christmas Cove, the non-profit group that lobbied fiercely against the Sneed's proposed location. The group's president said Thursday that it has secured a $30,000 grant to establish moorings in the environmentally protected cove.
According to Bell, his clients will announce next week whether they intend to modify their plan along environmental lines to increase their chances of winning approval for the Christmas Cove location, or whether they are targeting a completely new location.
"They need to get all five members (of WT Enterprises) together to agree on language, and because of work schedules, they haven't been able to get all members together at one time for a unified press release," said Bell.
Robert Fagenson, president of the Friends of Christmas Cove, said his organization wishes them well in a new location, but will continue to fight any efforts to bring the Leylon Sneed to Christmas Cove, located within the ecologically sensitive St. James Marine Reserve and Wildlife Sanctuary off Great St. James Island.
"We hope it's not a ploy," said Fagenson, worried that WT Enterprises might be withdrawing its current application for fear a denial would make a renewed attempt to locate the Leylon Sneed in Christmas Cove that much harder.
Opponents of the Sneed's proposed location lambasted WT Enterprises earlier this month in a CZM public hearing for citing environmental and educational objectives as the reasons for bringing the vessel to Christmas Cove – objectives that did not appear in the application itself. Critics viewed the presentation as disingenuous.
"Even those not naturally skeptical were appalled by what was taken as an incredible insult to all those present," said Fagenson.
Bell argued during the hearing that the owners of WT Enterprises would bear the cost of establishing moorings in the cove to protect the fragile sea bottom from anchor scrapings.
Fagenson announced Thursday that his organization has secured a $30,000 grant from a New York-based foundation to fund the establishment of moorings in the cove, though he declined to announce the name of the foundation until further details have been worked out. He said his group is working with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) on how best to use the money for establishing and maintaining the moorings. Fagenson said he anticipates the funding will provide between 20 and 24 moorings.
DPNR could not be reached for comment Thursday as government offices were closed.
Tom Bolt, the attorney representing the Friends of Christmas Cove, said that the organization is busy establishing a public-private partnership for the sanctuary, not only with DPNR but with the University of the Virgin Islands as well as the Nature Conservancy and the Ocean Conservancy.
"The Friends of Christmas Cove are committed to working with the advisory group and hopefully providing the financing necessary to draft and implement a management plan," said Bolt. He said the stakeholders are planning a meeting in mid-April to work out a strategy.
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