I know a lot of you readers out there have requested updates on the Coral Bay Marina project known as the Yacht Club at Summers End. And, to be honest, there hasn’t been a ton of forward, or backward, movement on the plans. But recently, the Army Corps of Engineers requested more information, without response, from the Summers End Group (SEG) that would be needed in order to move forward with their permit review. And a group in Coral Bay is rallying the local “troops” in order to have their say in further halting the process.
First, in order to get the background on the SEG plans that have been an ongoing conversation with a lot of local opposition since 2014, please take a look at this thorough timeline as provided by Davis Silverman and Save Coral Bay. SEG submitted their first permit request to the Army Corps of Engineers in May of that year. And, since, the Corps has submitted now four different requests for more information from SEG in order to address requests for omissions and more information in regards to the requested permit.
Part of the permitting process under the Corps requires that the work being done is consistent with the Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act. A portion of this part of the process is conducted by the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the division of NOAA responsible for reviewing the impacts to critical underwater habitats. The documents were submitted to NMFS in March of 2021 and, in September of 2021, the Army Corps of Engineers relayed a message to SEG that more information was needed in order to process the request. (September 13, 2021 letter.) I’d advise reading the letter, but, in a nut shell, they had concerns in regards to environmental compliance with the Endangered Species Act and the Fisheries Act as well as issues raised with the public and the EPA.
Last month, NMFS closed the request without action due to a lack of response, citing the “action agency non-responsive.”
Now, this is not the first time that a request within a Federal agency has been closed due to a lack of response from SEG. Another was closed in December of 2018. It was in May of 2020 that SEG resubmitted for another consultation with the Federal agencies and the Army Corps did not re-open the request until March of 2021. Now, the September 13, 2021 request for additional information from SEG has gone without response. And the permit request has once again been closed.
Now, SEG HAS received permitting on the local level. The group received a permit from U.S. Virgin Islands’ Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Coastal Zone Management board in 2014. And a revised version of the permit was ratified in 2020 after years of back and forth in legislation.
But, this does not mean that they can proceed. In order to do anything below the water line, they have to have the permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. That makes it tough to dredge a marina…
So, in essence, there has been a lot of legal back and forth and not much motion in regards to the proposed “super yacht” marina in the quiet harbor town of Coral Bay. And now, the Federal permits necessary to move forward with the project have, once again, been closed without action.
A group in Coral Bay is further organizing with a petition in opposition to the proposed Marina plans. Save Coral Bay will be submitting the petition to the Army Corps of Engineers. The document, available for signing online, sites a number of concerns in regards to the marina, the majority of which are related to environmental issues and cultural and historical artifact preservation. If you are interested in supporting their initiatives, please take a look at the online submission form.
The recently closed environmental investigation paired with the publicization of a 1700’s shipwreck in the blueprint of the proposed marina may lead one to believe that we are not going to see any action in Coral Bay anytime soon. But, I’m no fortune teller…So, we shall see what the future holds for the proposed “Yacht Club” in Coral Bay.