Category: Press Releases


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ST.THOMAS— The Committee on Economic Development, Agriculture and Planning, chaired by Senate Vice President Janette Millin Young, approved two zoning requests Tuesday, at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall.

“Every permit request that we review in this committee, that we vet, that  we vote on, represents economic development,” said the Committee Chair. “A great majority of these requests allow for businesses to conduct business and therefore attributes to our commerce. And this I believe is important to mention because it is necessary for all of us to embrace the work that contributes to the economic development of our territory because it doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” she said. “It behooves all of us to ensure that something is actually built on the foundation that we lay here.”

Major Coastal Zone Management Permit No. CZT-05-12, which allows for the continued use and occupancy of an existing dock and authorizes the installation of a swim platform to be located in an uncolonized area of the bay, was approved with a vote of 5 yes, 4 absent.

During the discussion, lawmakers inquired about why the request took almost 2 years to reappear before the body, ensured that public access would not be compromised and verified that code, as well as the language of the permit request,was within established parameters.

Yvonne L. Tharpes, Deputy Chief Legal Counsel of the 31st Legislature offered a brief analysis of the  permit.

“Of concern are the intake and outfall lines of the desalination plant. The R-3 Zoning District’s Table of Permitted Uses in the outdated zoning code of the Virgin islands dos not allow desalination plants,” she wrote in the memorandum.

Sen. Clifford F. Graham, a committee member, asked officials to respond to the concern.

Jean-Pierre Oriol, Director of Coastal Zone Management at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources obliged.

“In review of the Legal Counsel’s analysis,” he said, “It is responding to the zoning code as if the desalination plant itself was looking to be erected in the R-3 zone. Then the zoning code does not allow a desalination plant in a medium density area,” he said.

Oriol explained that other concerns raised by Legal Counsel pertained to commercial use of  desalinized water, but the water is not being used commercially, he said.

The Committee also approved Major Coastal Zone Management Permit No. CZT-9-14, which allows for continued use and occupancy of land north and south of Muhlenfel’s Point and authorizes the use of the existing reconstructed fixed dock and its associated leased submerged lands and the installation of 11 buoys, 9 of which are swim buoys.

Later lawmakers removed Major Coastal Zone Management Permit No. CZJ-2-14  to allow the continued use and occupancy  of an existing dock and 6500 square feet of submerged lands surrounding the dock structure from the agenda so that it could be heard on the island of St. John giving residents the opportunity to attend and voice concerns.

Committee Chair Sen. Janette Millin Young and committee members,  Senators Clifford F. Graham, Myron D. Jackson, Almando “Rocky” Liburd, Tregenza A. Roach, were present.


Committee Receives Update On Consent Decree and Acts On Legislations

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St. Croix—the Committee on Housing, Public Works and Waste Management, chaired by Senator Marin A. Blyden met Thursday evening to consider a three item agenda in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, Frederiksted.

The first item on the committee’s agenda was an update on the Consent Decree and Closure of the Virgin Islands Landfills.  In 2016, the Government of the Virgin Islands and the Waste Management Authority entered into a Consent Decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which outlines specific solutions to the environmental violations at the islands’ landfills.

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Commissioner, Dawn Henry said in a prepared statement that the, “Management of the Territory’s landfills is at critical point.” The commissioner further indicated that Bovoni Landfill is projected to reach capacity in January of 2017 and the Anguilla site in September 2017.  “We need to immediately seek alternative means of disposing of more than 350 tons per day of solid waste territory wide,” said Henry.

On August 23, 2016, the District of the court of the Virgin Islands held a status conference to receive an update from the Government of the Virgin Islands regarding progress made in complying with the Consent Decree.  According to Commissioner Henry, the only progress that was made was with the 10-million-dollar bond authorization; however, the DPNR Commissioner said that she will be in court on Friday, September 9, 2016 to provide an additional update on the compliance efforts.

Also testifying from the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority were Ann Hanley, Acting Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Vincent A. Ebberson, Solid Waste Director both of whom came under questioning and confirmed to Senators that there was a job action on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 which affected the Transfer Station and as a result hampered trash handling on St. Croix.  The acting COO reassured the committee that a partial payment will be made on Thursday, September 8, 2016.

On the matter of the proposed legislations, Chairman Blyden said the two Bills 31-0316 and 31-0380 have both been before the committee before but a need to revisit the proposed legislations along with any necessary amendments would ensure the best measures that would be beneficial to the territory.

Bill No. 31-0316 which is an Act proposing to amend the VI Code and to establish a comprehensive waste reduction, recycling and composting program in the Virgin Islands, and Bill No. 31-0380 seeks to establish a Source Separation Law in the Virgin Islands to promote the general health, welfare and safety of the residents and protect the environment all the while managing the solid waste steam in the Virgin Islands.

After several rounds of questions, the committee unanimously voted and approved the two measures which were then forwarded to the Committee on Rules and Judiciary for further consideration.

Senators in attendance for Thursday evening’s meeting were: Marvin A. Blyden (Chair); Clifford F. Graham (Vice Chair); Jean A. Forde; Neville A. James; Almando “Rocky” Liburd; Kenneth L. Gittens, Novelle E. Francis, Jr.; Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly; Non-committee members in attendance included Senators Myron D. Jackson; Kurt A. Vialet and Positive T.A. Nelson.


Government Services, Consumer and Veterans Affairs Committee To Consider Several Bills

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ST. JOHN—The Committee on Government Services, Consumer and Veterans Affairs, chaired by Sen. Justin Harrigan Sr., met at the Cleone Henrietta Creque Legislative Conference Room on St. John Monday evening, to receive a status update on the limited barge services between St. Thomas and St. John.
Sen. Justin Harrigan Sr., said that the meeting was necessary to discuss the limited services and the subsequent “impact on Virgin Islands residents, its businesses and overall economy. It’s important that these issues be aired,” he said.
Representatives from various government entities as well as the private sector shared some of their challenges.
Arlene Chalwell, Deputy Police Chief for the St. John District Leander Jurgen Zone-D Command, said in her testimony that the limited services delayed the department’s ability to transport supplies, equipment and vehicles that allowed the department to provide sufficient safety to communities as well as basic services like providing police reports and records.
“Moving forward, it is imperative that proactive measures are implemented to prevent such dire situations from reoccurring in the near future,” she said.
Sen. Janette Millin Young said that she understood the impact to be “a bread and butter issue” as the tourism product in St. John is the main source of economic support. Although the service was not halted,” she said, “it slowed down.” When we’re talking about an island that is separated by a body of water, then you’re sort of paralyzed.”
Though Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Newton, Supervisor of Marine Safety Detachment in St. Thomas U.S. Coast Guard was unable to attend, she provided a statement that was read into the record.
“The Coast Guard’s priorities are to safeguard the lives of the people who utilize these vessels, ensure the safety of the maritime transportation system and help facilitate safe maritime commerce in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Coast Guard Marine Inspectors remain committed to performing any required inspections in a timely manner to ensure the vessels are structurally sound and meet the regulatory standards for a certificated vessel to safely transport passengers and vehicles,” she said in her testimony.
Carlton Dowe, Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Port Authority also testified. During the discussion, Dowe noted that while he understood the frustration, providing a solution like expansion would take time.
“Maintaining these facilities is not easy,” he said. “Unlike some islands in the Caribbean where you can wake up tomorrow and tear out a mangrove or fill in a pond, in the United States Virgin Islands,
it [doesn’t] happen that way. We must go through a process,” he said, naming some of the many facets including the Army Core of Engineers, fisheries and the Coast Guard. “By the time that process takes place I will guarantee you years have gone by.”
“The Port Authority’s board is concerned about the lack of sufficient barge service and the impact it has caused on our community, our tourism product and our port operations,” he said. “We have done our best to respond to the public outcry by appearing on local radio talk shows to explain the reasons for lack of service.”
“We hope to have some resolution to this issue in the very near future, and we will keep the public abreast of any new developments,” Dowe said.
Committee members, Senators Myron D. Jackson, Positive T. A. Nelson. Tregenza A. Roach, and Janette Millin Young were present. Non-committee members, Jean A. Forde and Almando “Rocky” Liburd were also present.


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Press Release for August 22, 2016 150822-STJ


Homeland Security Committee Approves Noise Pollution Control Bill

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St. Croix–the Committee on Homeland Security, Justice & Public Safety met Friday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room to consider Bill 31-0364 which would implement hazardous duty pay for Firefighters in the Suppression Unit for the performance of hazardous duty and Bill 31-0381, which seeks to amend the existing noise control statues.

Senate President Neville James in speaking on Bill 31-0364 said the bill seeks to “correct a long standing omission” which was also echoed by several testifiers throughout the committee meeting on Friday.

Firefighters and their union representatives from the St. Croix and St. Thomas/St. John districts were on hand to advocate for the passage of the legislation, which some senators felt should be part of a greater discussion on hazardous duty pay for first responders.

Possible amendments to the bill were discussed, which include the designation of a funding source to cover the hazardous pay costs as well as the extension of hazardous duty pay to all eligible law enforcement personnel. The bill was held in committee to allow for a more comprehensive financial analysis by the Senate’s Post Audit Division.

The second item on the agenda was the Noise Pollution Control Bill (31-0381), sponsored by Senator Novelle E. Francis, Jr. The Senator refuted claims that the proposed legislation serves a special interest. “This is not an anti-business, anti-music, anti-entertainment or anti-culture bill. It is a quality of life bill.” Francis said he has heard from diverse groups, all of whom have their own concerns about the impact of noise in residential and business areas.

Representatives from the Frederiksted Economic Development Association, the Christiansted Community Alliance, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce and the Departments of Licensing and Consumer Affairs, Health and Police were in favor of the legislation. All testifiers suggested amendments that would address inconsistencies and improve the enforceability of the legislation.

Chairman Francis said he will continue to work with key stakeholders to fine tune the Noise Pollution legislation. “Today’s discussion reflects that this bill is a work in progress,” he stated. “Common courtesy cannot be legislated, but legislation that allows the greater community to enjoy a better quality of life certainly can.”

The bill was favorably voted on by all six committee members present and will proceed to the Rules and Judiciary Committee for further vetting.

Members in attendance on Friday were: Novelle E. Francis, Jr. (Chairman), Kenneth L. Gittens (Vice Chair), Justin Harrigan, Sr.; Jean Forde; Sammuel Sanes, Almando “Rocky” Liburd; Nereida “Nellie” O’Reilly and non-committee member Neville A. James.