No More Public Access at Hansen Bay Beach?

no trespassing hansen

Something fishy is going on over at Hansen Bay and we’re not talking about underwater. We noticed a few weeks back that a fence went up along the road near the east side of the beach. Well it seems to have gotten worse. See for yourself:

Hansen fence hut

hansen street view

Hansen sign wire

From what we’ve heard from numerous people, a man from St. Thomas has laid claim to the property. He subsequently put up fencing, barbed wire and “No Trespassing” signs along the beach. He also staked off the parking area across the roadway and created a makeshift hut near the beach.

Now we don’t know if in fact this man owns the property, but we do know is that all beaches are public. Therefore the fact that someone has put up barbed wire to block the public from using its beach is simply not cool.

We’ll keep you all posted on this…


61 thoughts on “No More Public Access at Hansen Bay Beach?”

  1. Yup. Been driving by this regularly and wondering what the hell is going on. Figured it was Vi. Did not expect it to be a guy from St. Thomas!? Yesterday the barbed wire even looked to be sort of hanging over into the road.

    • You will be surprised to learn that the Open Shorelines Act of 1971 does not grant Virgin Islanders and visitors access to the shorelines. This is certainly true if the owner who acquired the adjacent land decides to exclude the public from accessing the beach by erecting a fence and blocking access ways that have existed for many years. According to John Benham, “the Open Shorelines Act does not in any way grant the public the right to cross private property in order to access this shoreline area.”

      Are you willing to preserve beach access by land for ALL in the U.S. Virgin Islands? It is an election year. Call the senators and candidates. Landowners shall not block existing access ways to beaches.

  2. Yes it sucks and not a cool way to go about it, but if someone legitimately owns the land that people are using to access the beach, then I see it as no different than Vie charging to walk through their property, and that might be the point with the “hut”.

    Sure the beach is public up yo the high water mark but access to it is not, only from the water. I have 5 acres of open space behind my house but that doesn’t mean you can walk through my yard to get to it.

    Either way, someone should track down the owners and find out their intentions and whatever their intentions are, fine, they shouldn’t be such jerks about it.

  3. It has long been contended in court that Vie doesn’t even own the land she’s on. “Adverse possession” I believe it’s called. Make improvements on land you don’t own, get away with it for 15 years and it’s yours. They have been trying to get rid of her since the 90″s. Theft is legal down here if you know how to do it.

    • Adverse Possession is “you have maintained a property for 20 years or more, uncontested” , you then have to sue for it through the courts, nothing is automatic

      • Not unless they have changed the definition. In a lawsuit trying to evict Vie (Violet Sewer Mahabir) in May 2002, the court ruled that Vie did not meet the 15 year rule, a claim she was making at the time.

        from Netsky vs Sewer

        …… Violet Sewer’s Adverse Possession Claim

        As stated above, Violet Sewer claims that her possession of a portion of land within Parcel 6E’s boundaries has ripened into ownership. In the Virgin Islands, title by adverse possession is conclusively presumed upon a showing of “[t]he uninterrupted, exclusive, actual, physical, adverse, continuous, notorious possession of real property under claim or color of title for 15 years or more….” 28 V.I.C. § 11; Burnett v. Benjamin, No. 348-1995, 2002 WL 359994 at *3 (Terr.V.I. Feb. 8, 2002), Griles v. Griles, 1998 WL 707773 (Terr.Ct.1998). Under Virgin Islands law, an adverse claimant bears the burden of proof to prove all elements of the claim to the property by clear and convincing evidence. McNamara v. Christian, 26 V.I. 109, 112 (Terr.Ct.1991). The question of whether an adverse claimant has met this burden is a question for the trier of fact. DeCastro v. Stuart, 43 V.I. 115, 119 (Terr.Ct.2000) (citing McNamara v. Christian, 26 V.I. 109, 112 (Terr.Ct.1991); Griles v. Griles, 39 V.I. 135, 137 (Terr.Ct.1998)). To make this determination, a court must look for evidence of “acts on land as ordinarily an owner would do, such as construction of buildings and making of improvements, or the payment of taxes.” See id. (citing McNamara, 26 V.I. at 113).

        After Violet Sewer had a survey prepared in July or August of 1998, she placed wooden fence posts in the ground, but did not connect them with any fencing. (Violet Sewer Dep. at 61-63). She also placed various signs around the property. (Id. at 78). She alleges that she has run a campground covering Parcel 6AB and an unspecified portion of 6E for an unspecified period of years, contending, however, that she has run it since approximately 1982 or 1983. (Id. at 81-84). She claims to have constructed wooden platforms on which campers could put their tents, and installed water tanks, a shower, and a toilet on the property, but did not specify the time period over which these items were installed. (Id.). Lastly, within the past few years, she has charged the public a fee to use the premises. (Id. at 94).

        The Court determines that on these facts, Violet Sewer’s adverse possession claim fails as a matter of law because she has not met the requirements set forth in 28 V.I.C. § 11. She fails to establish by clear and convincing evidence that she has
        [205 F.Supp.2d 460]
        had exclusive, continuous, and uninterrupted possession of a portion of Parcel 6E over the required statutory period of fifteen years.

    • That woman is sooooooooooo welcoming, I avoided it the last three times I was on island. Kicking her out would only make it better.

    • Dear Dr. John C Roth,
      Are you still interested in the Christ of the Carribean? The old newspaper has Col Wadsworth dedicating the statue to Every in 1953 April 5. It goes on to say he wants this for people for years to come to think about Peace etc. If you are out there contact me please. Thank You Cindy Haun

  4. All beaches are public up to the first line of vegetation. Landowners do not have to allow public access by land, but they cannot stop anyone from using the beach if they come in by boat. See Ditliff and countless other examples.

  5. HAULOVER BEACH when recently purchased placed big boulders blocking access to the beach. LIME TREE BAY the beach right after it & before Vi’s beach is fenced off and fencing goes over the rocks straight thru into the water. GALLOWS POINT Fencing goes over the rocks to the water. DREEKETS BAYis fenced. Let’s not forget PETER BAY which is a gated community and DITLIFF. Why then is this beach such a concern? Are the laws based on ETHNIC Backgrounds? It’s amazing how everyone respects “others” and their right to their PRIVATE beach fronts but the rules are not the same for let’s just say “OTHERS”. What one does with his or her own PROPERTY should be their business as long as they are within the laws of the land. A local/native person should have the same equal rights as all those who had to PAY; or get through Adverse possession or out right steal for their million dollar view. Just saying…….

    • Good day! To clarify about the boulders at Haulover – they were there when we bought the property from Dave Prevo . They were installed not to keep people out but to protect the area from abusive parking on the beach side and the cars that were doing damage eroding the beach at the roads edge. We installed the posts for the same reason. They are working well for their purpose and have had positive comments about the improvement. 99% of the people we’ve spoken to respect the conservation and are appreciative of the land being preserved. There is plenty of parking and no one is or ever was kept from using Haulover.
      The land has been transferred to the Park and is no longer owned by the STJ Land Conservancy. I believe the NPS will continue to prohibit parking on the beach side. We specifically had it written into the deed that there will be no restrictions on any activity at Haulover whoever you are.
      I hope this clears things up – thank you and enjoy Haulover!

  6. Actually, 100% Native is right, and I would also add Caneel Bay to that list. That said, it is strange that you wake up one morning and find a beach that has previously been easily accessed, fenced. Seems that land ownership in the VI is a little different than in the States. I read recently about the dispute concerning the ownership of the land the new gas station is being built on. They were taken to court by a St. Johnian family that said the land had been there’s for years and that they had not sold it to anyone. After the court ruled against the gas station, they continued to build and at last count, had invested several hundred thousand dollars in the project. ——What—— No one would build in the States until title was cleared.—I don’t understand the thinking. Same thing with the St, Thomas bridge—-Back to blocking beach access and claiming ownership, I would hope the authorities would make those claiming the land seemingly out of no where, produce the requisite proof of ownership before they are claimed and made off limits to the public. I could see this affecting tourism, especially in the Coral Bay area, if there is too little access to the beaches not in the Nat’l Park. I wonder if there has been any claim on lands with villas. on them. Would make me a little nervous.

  7. What’s with the race issue? This has nothing to do with race, wealth or anything else except the fact that a beach that was once accessible has been taken away and people want to know why and who is behind it. It could be Richard Branson or Kermit the Frog, who cares? People have a right to know if its being done legally, period.

    • Yeah, its great to be assumed to be a racist because you are curious why you can no longer access a beach that might be 50 feet long and is 3 feet from the road. The “other” is clearly anyone “other” than him.

  8. +1 for Jm. If it’s legal, it’s legal. If not, that’s a different story.

    Doesn’t look very good but apparently meets the local HOA standards. The pic showing the beach butting up to the public road looks to me like the vegetation line is on the side of the road opposite the beach. That would be blocking public access. And the T posts blocking the parking on the other side, surely there is a utility easement along these roads?

  9. Angels Rest has tried to get along with Vie , she really , really hates
    me . I do nothing but bring her business . She has even gone so far as telling people , that if they swim out to my bar they are no longer allowed on her beach .

  10. Yes, I have seen the wrath of Vie. She got extremely mad at me for coming off the beach past 5:00 PM. I didn’t see the little sign stating that. She locked the gate and then got mad when we crawled under the barbed wire to get back to our vehicle. I still like her chicken though!!

  11. Willing to bet there’s an argument for an easement, even if the land is owned. If there haven’t been signs and people have been using it “as public” for a certain number of years, most states (territories?) require an easement to be written into the deed. Does require some public commitment to seeing it through.

    • It’s a bit more complicated than most people seem to think. Virgin Islands law gave the public the right to use shorelines in the 1970’s but there was no transfer of title to the Government. Essentially the public has the right to use private land. There are also no legal utility easements.
      This is not the same land discussed above that Vi Sewer has claimed, but the beach right next to the road that has only been getting regular Public use in the last 10 years at most.

  12. My family has land in Hansen bay the ownership is unclear, taxes not paid. If someone from STT paid the bill what can be said?

  13. The Virgin ISLAND code, Book 1, page 31 Article 6, “Danish citizens residing in said islands may remain therein or may remove therefrom at will, retaining in either event all their rights of property, including the right to sell or dispose of such property or its proceeds; in case they remain in the Islands, they shall continue until otherwise provided, to enjoy all the private, municipal and religious rights and liberties secured to them by the laws now in force. If the present laws are altered, the said inhabitants shall not thereby be placed in a less favorable position in respect to the above mentioned rights and liberties than they now enjoy.” I said all that to say The CONVENTION Between THE UNITED STATES and DENMARK or to simplify The TREATY of 1917 GIVE ME THE RIGHTS.. ….P.S. , Even the road is private property.

  14. No one is arguing that a rightful owner doesn’t have the right to fence off land as he pleases. Seems the argument is whether someone can “claim” ownership without having the legal authority to do so. The quotation of some arcane treaty does not qualify. Have taxes been paid on the property by anyone in recent years? If so, I am sure a record exists. I am also sure that said taxes would be a very large sum of money considering the value of the land. Concerning the road being on private land, there’s a little thing known as a right of way. The government can access land when it serves the greater good. A utility company can take half your front yard to lay cable or the highway dept. to widen a street. I don’t think anyone will have much luck trying to shut the road down. Just showing up, claiming ownership and fencing the land off is not right unless someone can show legitimate ownership. What’s to stop me from showing up on undeveloped land and putting up a fence and a tent and laying claim. Legitimate ownership comes with responsibilities like maintaining the property and paying taxes. Not saying all this has not been done but given the history of the Hansen Bay area, it is doubtful. If not, then I hope the authorities will take a closer look at the actions of the individual.

    • How do you know. who have the legal authority ,I have my papers. If you want to know go to the Recorder of Deeder,because you dont know about the treaty it don’t make it less important or weigh less it is the
      law of the land, and its protect my property right. Look it up before talking what u don’t know. you should be concern about your taxes! Yes the taxes are large that why I trying to enjoy the use of the property. David it look like you know little about the laws, only thru eminent domain governments could take propert,but their have to pay . Ownership of property isn’t just maintianing it and paying taxes it protecting it!

  15. Man From St Thomas
    I didn’t mean to insult you but I am afraid I have. I apologize. I have no first hand knowledge of your situation and I have made assumptions that may be incorrect. Please forgive my rudeness———-

  16. I honestly think this “man from ST” might be another “east ender” just playing the crowd. I think whatever agency is responsible for protectimg the shorelines should get involved. No one should be able to build a piece of crap shack feet from the shore where there is healthy coral and wildlife. If I owned a villa on the east end, i would gather a group of people and pay a lawyer big bucks to investigate this. If it is legal, then hats off to the dude. Just does not seem kosher to me.

  17. Happy Transfer Day! St.John administrator Leona Smith should know better is she playing politices:.our property boundary is the sea One thing Jean Pierre Oriol didn’t say is that I went to CZM office in St. Thomas to comply, I started but on march 26 he called me and told me orders came from the top saying that,” I have to remove everything,”. Where is the justice ,politices at its best, buy the Virgin Islands code book 1 page 27 thru 35 is the sword I will use to fight against injustice,. We are native Virgin Islanders and our property rights are protected. The problem exist because PWD didn’t do their jobs. Instead of running the road thru the public trail they ran the road thru private properties, leaving a lot of property land lock.

  18. It’s all pretty sad. I can’t believe the owner is getting much enjoyment from his property. I doubt people used to stopping by and enjoying the beach are enjoying this situation either. St John is beautiful, but that beauty has nothing to do with what man has done. In fact, the beauty of St John is inspite of what man has done. This is yet another example of insult to natural beauty. It really doesn’t matter if it’s some guy from St Thomas using crap to lay out his claim or a billionaire putting up a monstrosity at Peter Bay. It’s just humans being humans. Too bad for all who just want to get along.

  19. Again….

    The PUBLIC ACCESS to the Hansen Bay Beach has been blocked.

    Check it out.

    I asked politely if I could still use the beach and was told only by boat access.

    ????

    • Emillo,

      Read through the thread again. You were told correctly. All USVI beaches are public, but only public access is through the water. Land owners do not have to grant you (or anyone else) access. Peter Bay is the exact same way, so are countless beaches in the USVI.

    • Good morning Tammy,

      Pass the snack shack and go up the hill. You will see what looks like a little campground on your right. You can pull in there and park. The land is owned by two women who are very nice. As long as people are respectful, they are welcomed to park there.

      Have fun!
      Jenn

  20. I am planning a trip in Feb. 2016. I am coming from Chesapeake, Virginia. I want to camp on the beach in Hansen Bay area. Do you have any advice?

  21. I was out there last week and spoke with a lady claiming to be the owner. My first impression was she’s a bit nuts. Well am right. She claims the owner 500 acres above the beach. After hearing her story I came to believe she’s a gypsy.

    • She is not a gypsy rather a DECENTANT…. And do you realize husky IS. DEROGATORY word when used as you have … Same. Racially significance as the “n” word… The LADIES are not “nuts” either… They are slowing REGAINING what’s has been kept from THEIR grandparents & parents all these years… And still trying to keep a pristine, beautiful, welcoming, and a gathering place for EVERYONE no matter YOUR background, beliefs, color of skin religious beliefs…and so on… PEOPLE/humans just being respectful, helpful, and HUMAN to each other.. So EVERYONE can enjoy the beauty of Hansen Cove….. My son and I we JUST there… Feb 28-March 4 2016…. And EVERYONE we encountered welcome us and made us fell at home and went away feeling like family…. Maybe instead of anonymously Posting .. And name calling….You should take some time to experience the Real People and appreciate Unjudgemental humans still exist in 2016…. If you can’t contribute to the betterment of a situation… My opinion is to KEEP YOUR CLOSED MINDED …… Small outlook on life and mad kind to yourself in your own apparently darkened life expectations… But that’s my opinion… I’d rather smile and promote goodness that LABEL someone you don’t know know as crazy or a gypsy( also FYI I AM FROM GYPSY DECENT AS IS MY FAMILY WE ARE PROUD OF OUR HERITAGE…… – I wonder what your ancestry and bloodline would reveal about you…. ??? But in the end HUMAN BEINGS… That is what WE ALL SHARE!) sorry for rant … 2016…. And with the world around us all in such great delimas … We should look towards the simple and small moments in life ….

  22. Carolina yacht crew set up a small pop up overhead shade tent brought in from a dinghy off the yacht. Tent was on the beach between high water mark and vegetation line. They brought a few guests in from the yacht .Then Vie came down and thru them off the beach. I spoke with a crew member and he told me she told him it was a private beach.

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