Undersea cables and tourist attraction win CZM approval
Published: August 30, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - The St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee has approved an extension for the Caribbean Cultural Center and Museum.
Also at its meeting Tuesday, the committee approved a permit for existing undersea cables for AT&T and conducted a public hearing on a permit application for a boat launch and dock expansion for the Sprat Bay Homeowners Association on Water Island.
The $15 million Caribbean Cultural Center and Museum is a planned tourist attraction on St. Thomas. Developer Gordon Coffelt owns 8.5 acres on Careening Point - the section of shoreline behind Frenchtown - and plans to build the attraction to highlight Virgin Islands history and culture.
The center will have multiple museum buildings for artifacts and exhibits, as well as full-size replicas of a great house, a boiling house, a kitchen and slave quarters. It will be a "living museum," with actors in period costumes teaching visitors about the Caribbean culture and history through stories and demonstrations.
The original permit was approved by the committee in October 2010, but with several major conditions, including prohibiting an animal paddock. The developer sought reconsideration of the permit application and received some modifications to the permit in April 2011.
A key feature of the attraction is a 250-seat amphitheater with a real, operating, historic livestock sugar cane roller pulled by oxen.
According to the CZM staff report, the developer requested a permit extension in July.
Under V.I. code, a CZM permit expires after one year if ground is not broken unless an extension is granted by the committee.
The extension request was made because the agreement with the V.I. Port Authority for an easement to the main entrance of the cultural center property had to be amended. While the amendment was passed by the Port Authority board in May, the revised agreement also requires approval from the governor and the V.I. Legislature, which has not yet taken place.
CZM staff Tuesday recommended a six-month extension, but the committee said the upcoming election season could delay the Legislative approval and instead gave the developer a one-year extension.
St. Thomas CZM committee members Austin Monsanto, Karl Percell and Sarah Simmonds voted in favor of the extension. Richard Brown abstained from the vote. Winston Adams was absent.
The other application approved Tuesday is for AT&T Virgin Islands. The company first received a CZM permit in 1991 for the installation of seven underwater fiber optic cables in Estate Peterborg, St. Thomas. The permit expired in 2011, and a new application was submitted. The permit application is not seeking any new work, only continued occupancy of the cables on the submerged land.
The permit application was unanimously approved.
A public hearing also took place on Tuesday for a dock facility and launch ramp for members of the Sprat Bay Homeowners Association on Water Island.
The applicant wants to expand the existing fixed dock with 970 square feet of wooden decking as well as a new floating dock, 33 12-inch diameter piles and a 600-square-foot cast-in-place launch ramp.
According to the application, the purpose of the project is to provide easier access to the residents and their guests. The housing development in Sprat Bay has 47 lots, 14 homes and two homes under construction.
CZM staff said the launch ramp could impact seagrass, which could affect the sea turtles that graze in and around the site.
The committee has 30 days to decide on the matter.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.