DPNR Issues Notice of Violation for Denis Bay Property

Photo Courtesy of John McQuillen
Photo courtesy of John McQuillen

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) issued a Notice of Violation to the Denis Bay property owner accused of altering the area’s landscape and VI National Park land.

DPNR found that property owner Tony Ingrao violated seven provisions of the VI Building Code including excavating and land clearing on National Park land; failure to secure an earth change permit; building without a permit; violating provisions of permits; and excavations affecting adjoining properties.

According to the Notice of Violation, the Division of Building Permits was notified on May 13 that a landslide occurred on a lower section of the roadway adjacent to plot 2B Denis Bay. Prior to the landslide report, the Division had met with the construction project manager to discuss concerns about possible environmental impacts and hazards created by the site. Mitigations efforts were discussed and it was indicated at the time that they would begin as quickly as possible.

Now that the Notice of Violation has been issued, Ingrao will be required to submit plans and a new building permit application for site stabilization, drainage and any associated structure needed to stabilize the affected area. Ingrao must submit any agreement or mitigation approved by the National Park with regard to the impacted areas. Ingrao is required to notify and receive approval for any work conducted on the recently reopened roadway leading to the property, and upon approval, Ingrao has 45 days to make repairs to that roadway.  DPNR also fined Ingrao $10,500 which must be paid within 30 days.

Jamal Nielsen, DPNR Media Relations Coordinator, stated Monday that Ingrao has already implemented corrective action measures, although he did not have specific details on what types of measures have been put into place thus far.

Ingrao is a world-renowned interior designer based in New York City. News of St. John reached out to him Monday, but was unsuccessful.

Below is a map of the property’s location:

Marked Denis Bay Map

40 thoughts on “DPNR Issues Notice of Violation for Denis Bay Property”

  1. I’m sure $10,500 is a drop in the bucket for Ingrao and that this fine and future fines have already been factored into the build. The only deterrent to this type of arrogance is jail time.

  2. I totally agree with Rob, I’m glad DPNR has finally taken action but this project should have been monitored closely from the get go, the damage is already done.

  3. I agree completely with the first two comments. I am still very upset over what happened to Sago Palms in this process. That’s the little villa to the right. My favorite rental. The owners finally gave up on it and left because of the behavior.

  4. They should shut him down – $10,000 is nothing.

    Someone should run an article in the New York Times (or other) that a “prominent New York designer to the stars” is defacing the tropical island of St John and trespassing and destroying National Park land (our public land) – See if that gets his attention !!!!

  5. Fines, jail time, shutting the project down are insufficient penalties for this wanton disregard of our islands’ rules, regulations, environment and quality of life. In addition to such penalties, Ingrao should be forced to restore the land to as close to a pristine condition as possible and deed it to the Virgin Islands National Park. People like him will ruin St. John if they are allowed to run amok…and too often they are. Sirenusa and Grand Bay are horrendous examples.

    • I have to agree with Wilson and others. Ingrao is getting exactly what he wants with his home and land, a classic “the rules don’t apply to me”. He’ll pay the fine, fix the road but in the end he will have the home he wants on his conditions not what others have had to follow. I can’t believe no one has the guts to put a cease and dissest order on this home. It sickens me to think anyone with enough money can do whatever they want. Total BS!

    • You can never go backward, but how I miss the sleepy island, the funky little deli at the beginning of the ferry dock, Gallows Point BEFORE they added TV, AC, WIFI, etc. We chose St. John 25 years ago because it was so unresorty and we’ve been back nearly every year since and seen the over- buiilding of every available space. How does anyone even get a permit to build in the national park? That used to be a selling point for visiting SJ-the undeveloped No. shore with no buildings on park lands. You had to work a little bit to go to the beach but the reward was a natural tropical background without rows of lounge chairs and other resort amenities.Then along came Peter Bay and all the rest that followed. Such a shame.

      • Yes I remember Caneel Bay as a child 1965…..easter egg hunts amongst in the ruins that now house Zou Zou resturant……amazing food and ambiance. Trekking Caterinberg ruins…….the water fall ( in season ) ++ Petroglyps on the Northside.. Surely miss Stanely Selengut of Maho Bay….what a place….again great food on the modest healthy side. Good people have bought the site….all 12 acres…John Stryker…Arcus Foundation…..mucho $$$$ spent on LGBT issues and Gorilla preservation.

  6. The only thing that makes sense here, someone paid someone way ahead of time. 10k is a pr slap on the wrist to make the gnats go away. Nothing happens when you deface National Park Land? Who knew!

    Ingrao is about to become known as a world class asshole. Big house aside, look at that property footprint. A poster for how to destroy your lot in Paradise. I wish I had a print shop.

    • I completely agree, and after reading the article the first thought that came to my mind was “who did he pay off in advance”. It is so obvious. We come to St. Johns every year and love the island. But if this is allowed to continue it will destroy the beauty of the island. For those that live there, take back your island before it is too late.Demand island officials treat this new home owner as if he was anyone else and fine him accordingly – along with jail time. This is NATIONAL FOREST ! I would be happy to help in any way we can. It feels like home to use for two weeks out of every year !

  7. I bet when this project is done this home will be EXTREMELY nice and the lot and land around it will be pristine with no issues with erosion or runoff or anything negative in that regard. I say that because this guy assuredly has the means to make it perfect.

    The issue is he’s using these same means to buy his way around the laws. It’s a case of it being easier to pay for forgiveness than to obtain permission. He can only play dumb for so long before it becomes obvious that is what is going on. There are so many places where this could have been stopped if it were not for the money doing the talking. Even if the permits were correct, the builder should have raised the flag about the wrong doing. If the DPNR would fine the crap out of the builder maybe he wouldn’t do this again. Though I’m sure he has an agreement where any fines will be expensed to the homeowner. Now if they revoke his builders permit, that would get his attention.

    This also assumes everything is on the level at the DPNR. Unfortunately there have been some bad apples in that barrel of late. And a $10k fine for what amounts to stealing public land does not seem like the department is serious.

    All I can say is the adjoining property owner whose land was encroached upon can now ask for an absurdly hefty sum for damages just to keep this project moving.

  8. I’ve watched this house go up and as a designer myself was amazed and amused with the design. It’s simply completely out of place which I’m certain is exactly what was intended. I hike the trail by this house and down to the North shore and have had to crab-crawl around the landslides below the house. The disregard for the parkland is unbelievable.

    Not to make light of this but I loved the Sago Palm Villa. If I had owned it I would be helping Moses build a large pig farm at the Centerline access road leading to this property.

  9. Obscene. The gash in the landscape for this mini-castle is inexcusable. 10k fine? A fraction of a percentage for this project budget. Oops! I didn’t know we couldn’t raze this ridge to give ourselves a better view. Residents and businesses should familiarize themselves with this joker, and refuse to have anything to do with him when he’s on-island!

  10. Just because you have the money to build a stately home does not mean that you can come to our Island of paradise and disregard the building codes and thus destroy the underwater park…..the reefs. The runoff that carries silt into the water ruins the reefs for everyone. The penalty is not strong enough to punish those who feel that their money makes them more important than those who appreciate the natural ecosystem that exists around St.John.

  11. Just came back from St. John and BVI and saw that hillside gash from my boat. I’ve stayed at Sago in the past. Even Presidio in Peter Bay didn’t look that bad when being built. The point is to build with the land not destroy it on an island like this. But, as we all know, around these islands the wealthy know to build and then when government steps in you just pay fines or pay in other ways rather than wait for go aheads from the slow government. But, they crossed the line when they touched National Park lands. That’s a big no-no. Expect a large $$$ donation coming to the National Park.

  12. This aggressive building approach, with absolutely no respect or concern for the National Park, nature, or the surrounding neighbors, is absolutely disscusting! Mr. Ingrao is building a monument to his own, selfish ego, while disrespecting everything and everyone around him.
    I understand that St. John attracts rich folks , who wish to have beautiful homes on the Caribbeans most precious island, but most of them make an effort to respect the island, and it’s unique beauty. Mr. Ingrao would probably be happier if he could level the entire mountain and turn it into a paved parking lot , so that his New York buddies would have plenty of room for their helicopters and Rolls Royce limousines .
    Having lots of cash, and an unmitigated willingness to waste it on oneself , doesn’t impress anyone on St John. This guy should have picked South Beach, where that type of extravagance is venerated!
    Sadly, after he’s done blowing a fortune defacing St. Jonn, and irritating all of the true residents, he will realize he doesn’t belong here. Then he’ll dump this eyesore at a huge financial loss, and get back to the City where he belongs…leaving a scarred and damaged mountain side as his lasting ” gift ” to St John.
    It’s so sad that we have no effective planning or controls over what these greedy ” investors” can do to our island. Until that occurs, these rich folks will keep ruining our quaint island with their palaces, which they enjoy at the expense of all the rest of us, and in total disregard of the beauty and magic of St. John.

    • http://seestjohn.com/st_john_life/st-john-usvi-stories-coming-to-st-john/st-john-virgin-islands-in-the-1970s-the-white-continentals/

      The O.Neill book mentioned in this article saw the pre building boom attitude of STJ — once anyone with enough money could buy the fresh water necessary to sustain these huge mega villas Big Money came to STJ – raising real estate prices to the stratosphere and changing the demographic of visitors and property owners.
      Rental villas and condos are now the driving economic engine on STJ, ride the early morning ferries from STT and witness the day labor force, some of whom may even be undocumented immigrants.
      The majority of the business community of STJ now depends on serving the increased tourism and encourages building of all kind. Once the barn door was opened, extravagant homes and condo projects became acceptable with little effective public opposition – this villa just pushes the bar higher. Until the Govt. agencies and the concerned citizenry exert demonstrable control the next outrage is just around the corner.

  13. Ah….and so it begins. Infringing on park land. Did you really think it would remain “Park land”? Too much money to be had. Too many pocket’s to be lined.

  14. I agree that the penalty should be to restore the land to as close to the original condition as possible and a substantial fine. Maybe a million for every tree displaced

  15. This enrages me! St. John is one of my favorite places in the world! I got married there, I keep up on what’s happening on the island from back in the states, donated $ to Cafe Roma (my fav) if they build these huge houses into the National Park, and continue to do so, what’s next for the island? A street light?
    I have seen how much this island has built up over the years in Cruz Bay, and I can’t stand it! Leave the parks alone! Go away with your big ugly house that doesn’t fit in!

  16. An Ego … it does not belong in the islands – it just doesn’t mix. How “Virgin” are the islands if this continues to happen?

  17. The guy looks like the asshat he is. After seeing some of his “work” I am sure this monstrosity will be the upmost of style and taste. NOT

  18. If you wish to write to the land-destroying slug whose house construction is ruining the land around it to let him know just how you feel about how he is participating in the destruction of our environment, his email is: [email protected]

  19. This whole thing is a disgusting travesty. He destroyed National Park land and got a slap on the wrist for it.

    What ever happened to “leave only footprints, take only memories”…the rest of us know better than to remove anything from the National Park…we don’t even take the tiniest of seashells because doing so would be wrong and illegal.

    He left an ugly house and took property that wasn’t his to take.

    Other people go to jail for theft, why not him?

  20. I’m saddened…my heart goes out to so many islanders and locals alike…Are there no laws on what and how you can build on STJ (restrictions). Newly built villas should be built to hurricane standards, all solar powered ie, Tropical Green Buildings? Lot sizes in that North Shore area should only be…say an acre and a half, dwelling needs to be “x” amount of feet from the propert line & codes should be strickly enforced. Some of the peole that are building these monstrosities have little to regard to this beautiful island paradise. It’s all about “look at what I have” The more I see, the more I read…saddens me for all the locals and property owners…you are pushing out the people that grew up there, built a life there and some no longer afford to live and visist. To people like him, 10K is nothing for a fine! Are you for real~ You can’t take back what he did and yes, maybe it will look good in 5-10 when things grow in, but, why let it get to this and upset everyone & ruin the precious eco-system that brings so many to STJ. The planning board and government officials need to really put rules in place & oversee what is going on.. And another large condo project that is approved, you should be asshamed of yourselves…

  21. All comments share the same view of the Ingrao problem. It would be wonderful if people would contact the government agencies that are responsible for regulating the project and levying fines, i.e. VI Dept. of Planning & Natural Resources, Coastal Zone Management, and Dept of Public Works. They all have websites with contact info.

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