The Daily News, August, 26, 1997 18
Coastal Zone mismanagementn?
I haye flost.faith in theoCoastal
Zone Management Commission
when it comes to the protection of
these islands' coastal environment.
How can you look me in the face
and tell me that the CZM Commis-
sion is for the people of these
islands? Case in point, the Magens
Bay coastal environment is threat-
ened by development.
For the past weeks, I have writ-
ten a brief history of Magens Bay's
human and natural history. Magens
Bay is a special place where differ-
ent ethnic groups played a major
role in our rich cultural history. In
1979, Magens Bay was designated
by the Planning Office as one of the
18 Areas of Particular Concern in
the Virgin Islands.
APC simply means areas that are
set aside because of its cultural, nat-
ural, historical, recreational or envi-
ronmental resources. In 1991, the
CZM Commission held public hear-
ings on the boundaries of the
Magens Bay environment.
Former Gov. Alexander Farrelly
signed into law the boundaries of
the APCs in 1994.
The APCs were intended to
serve as a guide management plan
of these sensitive areas throughout
So any future development with-
in APC, areas must be consistent
with the criteria and overall man-
The CZM Commission approved
the Magens Bay APC boundaries a
few years ago.
Well, in 1996, the commission
gave a permit for development
within the APC boundaries of
Magens Bay beach. However, this
proposed development is inconsis-
tent with the APC plans.
Tell me, how in the world can
the CZM Commission make such a
decision? Is there money peddling
under the table to Commissions by
these developers? You see, they
-will lie to our face and tell us that it
is not true. Some people in high
places in this government do not
care about the people of these
islands much less the environment.
Yet, these are the same people we
trust to look out for our best interest
The Hampton V.I. Corp., known
as Le Domaine subdivision, pro-
posed to develop a 45-unit residen-
tial housing community on Estate
Misgunst and Estate Lerkenlund on
steep slopes overlooking Magens
The developers claimed the
development would address the
needs of the middle income families
is St. Thomas. They also mentioned
some off-island investors might
You see, it all sounds good. And
as a people, we often fall into these
traps without realizing what we are
up against. The Virgin Islands have
a history of developers especially
outsiders who will rape the environ-
ment and develop so-called homes
for middle income families. Too
often, these homes and sites have
all kinds of problems a few years
down the road.
And you see, we often believe
them that they have our best inter-
I must admit, it is not the devel-
opers who fool us, but those in high
positions in this government who
are supposed to represent and pro-
te.ct us from schemes. There are
many examples where developers
claimed bankruptcy and ran with
the money. If you do not believe
me, ask the residents who are suf-
fering now and live at St. George
Villa homes on St. Croix.
The proposed development over
Magens Bay poses all kinds of
problems before it's even started.
There is "hear say" that the compa-
ny has financial problems. The soils
are not conducive to the type of
sewage treatment systems they
planned to install.
In a letter. CZM Chairman
Albert Paiewonsky addressed the
company by saying: "In the deliber-
ation, the Committee placed special
emphasis on four major areas of
concern. They were: drainage,
flooding and erosion control,
impact on oceanography and
marine life, sewage treatment and
disposal and visual and social
impacts of the development."
What is this company's track
record? The environmental monitor
who did the environmental assess-
ment report for this Le Domaine
subdivision track records are poor
and unacceptable to the view of
many in the scientific community.
Furthermore, most of the soil ero-
sion control methods the company
mentioned in its report are not
appropriate for this site because of
its steep rocky slopes.
They even said, "A large gut cuts
through the property on its south-
western comer. This gut crosses the
property at a northwest angle, and
then turns more towards the north.
and joins another gut before running
to the sea. The property is extremely
rocky and has limited top soil."
You know, once rain falls
Magcns Bay water is brown.
Both technical and lay persons
in the community have written
comments of great concern to the
CZM Commission about the pro-
ject. The project now is before the
board of Land Use Appeals. I say to
them do the right thing by rejecting
the application. Believe me, you
will save a beach environment that
means so much to the people of
these islands and the world.
Olasee Davis, who has a master
of science degree in range manage-
ment and forestry ecology, is a St.
Croix ecologist, activist and writer.