It’s been several months since we’ve written about the Summer’s End Group’s proposed megayacht marina out in Coral Bay, so today we’d like to give you a little update. Here’s a lot of information that was recently posted on Save Coral Bay’s Facebook page:
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted an update on the Coral Bay marina projects. The main reason for this is that very little has happened worth talking about. But over the past few months several things have taken place, and I wanted to keep everyone apprised of the current status.
You may recall that last February we sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, signed by over 3,500 lovers of Coral Bay, requesting that the Corps deny the permit applied for by the Summer’s End Group (SEG). We laid out the reasoning, including the fact that 16 months has transpired since the Corps required SEG to respond to over a hundred major concerns about their project. The Corps had placed the permit application “in abeyance” and requested a response from SEG within one year.
It has now been over 20 months and, as of last week, SEG had not returned responses to ANY of the issues identified by the Corps. These issues included concerns expressed by federal agencies (NOAA, NMFS, FWS, EPA, NPS), issues expressed by the general public, issues identified by Save Coral Bay and CBCC, and specific concerns of the Army Corps.
The response from the Corps to our February letter was very much a “by the book” answer. The Corps wrote back saying that because SEG had not responded to the issues and concerns, the Corps lacked the information required to take action on the permit. This meant they could neither approve nor deny the permit and so it remained in abeyance. So, basically, the Corps said that they could not and would not do anything. This is very typical – they would rather not take an action (which could be appealed) and prefer to do nothing.
For a good part of the 20 elapsed months we do not believe that SEG was doing much of anything to advance their project, however the principals (Chaliese Summers and Rick Barksdale) were on St John for much of that time. Last March the SEG environmental consultant (Amy Dempsey) wrote to the Corps saying that “SEG was resuming work on the project” and would have answers to all of the issues within 60 days. That time came and passed without anything being submitted.
We now know that SEG has requested a meeting with the Corps, has met with the National Park Service, and is apparently working on a slightly modified plan for their mega yacht marina. We have not yet seen the plan – but if it exists, we will obtain a copy. And if the multitude of issues identified in the first set of comments still remain, as I strongly suspect they will, then we will respond accordingly.
Just to refresh your memory, the original plans submitted by SEG in 2014, and eventually approved by two members of the St John Coastal Zone Management Committee, are now the subject of an ongoing lawsuit in Virgin Islands Superior Court. The Board of Land Use Appeals (BLUA) required significant modifications to the permits, and the court will be reviewing the actions taken by CZM, which we believe were in violation of VI code. So, at the local level, SEG has no permits and has a lengthy process in front of them to even try to obtain permits. We believe, at a minimum, they need to go back to CZM with a new application conforming to the requirements of BLUA (a combined land/water application), with a new design (omitting the parcels of the Voyages building), avoiding the historic artifacts identified in the marina footprint, new environmental analysis given the changes to the upland storm water management plans, and basically start over.
At the federal level, if SEG submits responses to the issues identified by the Army Corps, then we will review those responses and submit the appropriate form of reply to the Corps. Given the extended period of time which has elapsed, the change in local site conditions, and overall improvements in water quality in Coral Bay Harbor, we strongly believe that SEG should be required to file a new application with the Corps, a new application to DPNR/CZM, and give the public and agencies an opportunity to comment.
So, in a nutshell, that’s where we are. If we need your help writing letters, reviewing applications, signing petitions, or supporting our legal campaign, we’ll let you know.
P.S. – I said I would update you on the marinas (plural). There’s nothing to report on the Sirius project. They’ve submitted nothing new to the Corps, and to the best of our knowledge they do not have a complete application with DPNR/CZM.
SAVE CORAL BAY – for future generations