Hansen Bay Owner Fined for Blocking Access; Situation Ongoing

A majority of the mesh and netted fencing has been removed. The structure remains.

Hey everyone, happy Wednesday! So we admit that we’re a tad late to the party on today’s story, but we thought it’s something you’d all be interested in.

So a few months back, we mentioned to you how a person came forward in Hansen Bay and stated he was the owner of the stretch of beach commonly used by locals and tourists for snorkeling, sunbathing, swimming and overall R&R. We also told you how he erected a fence, put up some barbed wire, a makeshift little hut and basically blocked public beach access. We then mentioned, about a month later, how the barbed wire was removed and everything was back to normal.

no trespassing hansen

March 2014

April 2014

April 2014

Well since that last post in April, the fence had been put up again, and removed, and put up again, and removed… So much was happening over there in terms of beach access that we simply couldn’t keep up. Well today we’d like to tell you that the powers that be have stepped in and are trying to rectify the situation. The owner, however, is fighting them. Here are the details…

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources issued a Notice of Violation (NOA) against Elroy Ashtain stating he constructed “an unpermitted wooden structure” and a fence earlier this year. As a result, Mr. Ashtain was was fined $10,000, told to cease any further development and was also ordered to remove all structures from the property.

That didn’t happen.

It was also noted in the NOA that “the respondent claims to be the owner of the property, however true ownership of the property is uncertain at this time.”

Mr. Ashtain responded and requested a formal hearing on the matter. Here is his response in which he likens territory laws to “cob webs”:

ashtain hering request

 A hearing date has yet to be scheduled. We’ll keep you all posted on this one…

19 comments for “Hansen Bay Owner Fined for Blocking Access; Situation Ongoing

  1. Kirk
    August 6, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Oh my, this is going to be interesting. I do kinda agree with his first count.

  2. Michele
    August 6, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Looks like a Rorschack test may be in order.

  3. Tim Campbell
    August 6, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I realize this is beside the point, but wow – this guy got fined more than the guy who destroyed part of the national park to build a house…amazing.

    • News of St. John
      News of St. John
      August 6, 2014 at 9:31 am

      Tim, I though the very same thing… -Jenn

      • Melissa
        August 6, 2014 at 9:39 am

        Excellent point, Tim. Wow.

    • Kirk
      August 6, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Tim i think that is the point he’s maling in count 1 of his appeal.

  4. Ann
    August 6, 2014 at 11:54 am

    well, money talks…and if it really is his property, why doesn’t he have the right to keep people off it? Yeah, the beach is public, but the property going to the beach is not…

  5. Bruce Simon
    August 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Beach rights are recognized and well known in SJ. This land is a beach. It would seem to me that this gentleman put a structure on and obstructed the beach entrance with barbed wire. This is not be right. If he has documentation to the contrary, he should show his property rights documents. This is a sad commentary and has gone way too far.
    Parking on his property is not a right, however. If the property turns out to be his, he should have the right to enforce non-parking rights.
    In any event, make “peace not war.”

  6. August 6, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Why is only this property being targeted ?Everyone else on the East End has that option to allow or deny access to their beachfront property.

  7. Steve Nicholson
    August 6, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    While recently visiting New York to see our daughter, we watched a segment on the local NBC affiliate about Tony Ingrao and his mansion in the Hamptons. I said to my daughter, “there is the guy who encroached on National Park property on St. John.” “He thumbed his nose at the authorities and got away with it”.

  8. Dave
    August 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    No one denies that if you own a parcel you have the right to deny access. I think the issue is whether he actually owns the land. He claims adverse possession but the courts don’t legally recognize his claim. They have ruled against this individual as well as other family members who also have made this claim.

  9. Heather
    August 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    From the pictures, it appears that the beach is very close to the road. If the beach is public up to the vegetation line/high water line and there is a right-of-way for the road, the property owner may not have any land to erect a fence.

  10. George
    August 6, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    We were always welcomed to swim when Tommy and Jewel lived there years ago. Everyone was welcomed. No one took advantage of the area.
    Sad it’s come to this!

  11. August 6, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Over the years, I’ve brought my guests to Hansen Bay. It is a remote and quiet spot and the perfect place to introduce timid snorkelers to the wonders of our undersea world. Until the ugly structure and fence went up, there was also parking on both sides of the road and it was just an ideal place to enjoy a little piece of old St. John which didn’t bother anyone. Now, I think it will never be the same no matter what happens. Local property owners are taking a cue from all this and starting to restrict parking and generally turning hostile to visitors. The message is “We don’t want you here” and that’s sad. The beach, by the way, is only a few feet from the road. There is a tree there that has caused a slope through its root structure and it’s beside it the structure has been built. A full moon high tide can find the surf nearly lapping the road. In other words, there’s really not much property there worthy of the name. There certainly isn’t room for a house with utilities, only a shack.

  12. jon doe
    August 7, 2014 at 4:35 am

    It is a group of teenagers from st thomas who drive a toyota/honda with flames painted on the sides. some look younger than 18 yo. I used to have the plate number, but lost it after the orig fence and structure was removed.
    It is currently worse looking than ever there, with no trespassing and no parking pained on the road and curbs. a new structure is up and new fence.
    Where are the police and DPNR?? This is diesgusting.

  13. Mrs. Doe
    August 8, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Hideous …

    The person should be fined on a DAILY BASIS until that IS REMOVED.

    THIS IS CRIMINAL AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS A CRIME.

    PHOTOS
    INVESTIGATION
    ARREST

    MAYBE WITH PROBATION REQUIRING COMMUNITY SERVICE WOULD HELP THE INDIVIDUAL TO UNDERSTAND THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR.

    • Jane Smith
      August 8, 2014 at 11:31 am

      CRIMINALS ARE THE PEOPLE WHO DON’T RESPECT PRIVATE PROPERTY. IF YOU WANT A PRIVATE BEACH BUY ONE. NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO ACCESS THIS PROPERTY WITHOUT PERMISSION IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM CALL THE POLICE.

  14. August 8, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Smart people will always talk what they don’t know, wise people will talk facts. To post a comment about anything first you have to know the facts or you will make a fool of yourself. The East End is a special place, it played an important part in the history of the Virgin Islands, my Name is Elroy Ashtian SR. and I am a native Virgin Islander therefore the treaty of 1917 protect our property rights. The person who was removing our fence (guy in the white truck ) all you did was give us strength. As for those who want to trespass the price for breaking the law you will pay. Always remember that ownership isn’t just paying taxes its also maintaining and protecting your property. If you want to use someones property all you have to do is ask permission. The government cannot make us give up our property rights, they can only buy it. The fine we received didn’t affect us,we will continue to protect and defend our rights until death. By the way the road you drive on is also private property. The road is supposed to be where the road is being cut now, however that case is in court now. The wheels of justice runs slow, but it will be reached in due time. Again, please respect the property of others. GOD IS THE GREATEST.

  15. AquaGirl
    August 12, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Thanks for the continuing articles about this spot. Over the years, we’ve had some nice times there – snorkeling and picnics. We always took care of the area, taking out any trash and not disturbing the plant life. It was such a delightful spot with the big tree for shade. We didn’t go out there when we were on island in June, as we didn’t want to get caught in any trouble or not be able to use the beach after the long drive. I hope this will get resolved, but it sounds like it might be a very long process.

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