Senate considers zoning change to allow for proposed senior living facility in Sugar Estate

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ST. THOMAS - The Senate Committee of the Whole met Wednesday to consider multiple zoning change and use variance proposals, including one to allow the V.I. Housing Authority to build a senior living facility in Sugar Estate on St. Thomas.

The Housing Authority purchased the land on the hillside above the Island Periodicals building and east of the Foothills Medical Building in 2012 from Lockhart Realty for about $1.3 million.

The land, about 8 acres total, consists of two parcels. One is zoned R-5, residential high density, and the other is zoned R-1, residential low density.

In order to consolidate the property and build the senior housing, both parcels must have the same zoning.

The proposal before the Senate is to change the R-1 zoned parcel, comprising 5.4 acres, to an R-5 designation.

The project itself will be to construct 80 units for seniors who can live independently. It will be affordable rental housing, built with low-income housing tax credits, V.I. Housing Authority Executive Director Robert Graham said.

The facility will include a parking garage under the building, a community center and outdoor gardens.

A single entrance and exit point will share the entrance to the Foothills Medical Building.

The facility will have two buildings, with three floors of living space plus the lower level parking garage.

Department of Planning and Natural Resources Director of Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning Stuart Smith said the government supports the zoning change because it is a commercial area with no nearby residences.

Graham said the construction is expected to start within a year and may take up to two years to complete. Its proximity to Schneider Hospital and many doctor offices, labs and pharmacies makes it an ideal location, he said.

Other zoning changes considered Wednesday include:

- Springline Architects request that a use-variance be granted to a 4.6 acre property currently zoned R-3, residential medium density, in Estate Smith Bay to allow for professional offices. The firm would like to construct a second two-story office building to rent out next to its existing office building.

- Karl Percell and Carolyn Hermon-Percell are seeking a change to the zoning map for their 0.78 acre parcel in Estate Thomas. The building used to house the dentist office The Smile Center, and the zoning change from R-2, residential low density one- and two-family, to B-2, business secondary/neighborhood, will allow the couple to move their law practice to the building.

DPNR supports the request.

- Property and Procurement is seeking a zoning change for a parcel it intends to lease to Petrus Gas for a gasoline storage tank. The 4,580 square foot parcel in Sub Base is currently zoned P, public, and the request is to change it to I-1, industrial heavy.

DPNR supports the change.

- Roy Harrigan Jr. is seeking a use-variance to allow his Frydenhoj property to be used as a guest house. The 0.43 acre property already has a three unit, two-story residential building on the site. It is zoned R-2, residential low density one and two family.

DPNR supports the variance.

- Ernanko Ashoka Thomas is seeking a use variance for a parcel in Estate Mafolie to allow for professional offices. The 3,397 square foot property zoned R-2, residential low density one- and two-family and already has a three-story residential building and the variance would allow for one of the stories to be rented out as office space.

DPNR supports the variance.

No votes are taken in Committee of the Whole, and it is up to individual senators to sponsor a zoning change request as a bill. Those selected to become legislative measures will be considered at the next Senate session, scheduled for April.

- Contact Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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