Category: Senator Marvin A. Blyden

COASTAL ZONE PERMITS MOVE FORWARD

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St. John – The Committee on Housing, Public Works, Waste Management & Planning, chaired by Sen. Marvin Blyden, held a meeting on Wednesday, at the Cleone Henrietta Creque Legislative Conference Room to vote and approve several zoning permits.

One of the permits that lawmakers considered and approved was David McDaniel and Cheryl McDaniel (CZJ-20-11) – This permit allows the use and occupancy of a rectangular shaped floating dock with 153ft of water area. The floating dock is permitted to be in the water during the months of November through May. The structure is located seaward of parcel No. 200-C-2A Estate Fish Bay, St. John in Fish Bay.

McDaniel stated that the dock is going to be used seasonally between the months of November through May and it is solely for personal use. He added that the material used to build the dock is environmentally friendly. “The dock will be made with high density cubes that will have little impact on the shoreline. The materials used to build the dock are environmentally compatible. The floating dock will not rust, corrode or leak chemicals into the water,” added McDaniel.

Similarly, Assistant Director of Coastal Zone and Management of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Gregory Richards, stated the surrounding area is currently sandy and rocky. “The dock will not negatively impact the environment but will provide safe access to the boat. The permit will be issued for ten years and there will be a rental fee of a $1,000 that will eventually increase,” said Richards.

“If the permit is not renewed after ten years, can the public access it?” asked Sen. Dwayne DeGraff.  Richards stated that since the dock will be built on McDaniel’s property, anyone using the dock without permission will be trespassing.

“You stated that the dock will have no impact on the environment,” said Sen. Blyden. He asked, “Are you familiar with the materials used to build the dock?” In response, Richards said, “No, not particularly this one. However, there are other environmentally friendly docks in the territory.”

“What type of impact whether big or small will the dock have on the environment?” inquired Sen. Jean Forde.  McDaniel stated that the only impact will be the installation on the shoreline in which two sand screws will be placed on the shoreline above ground that will connect to the dock.

Sen. Brian Smith shared his suggestion to enhance safety measures to the dock that will deter crimes and boating accidents. “There needs to be a light around the dock that will prevent accidents and criminal activity,” he said.  McDaniel stated currently there is reflective tape on the dock.  However, the lights can be added.

Separately, lawmakers voted favorably for the following:

  • WVJD, LLC. (CZJ-22-16(W) – This permit allows installation of four swimming buoys spaced approximately 40 feet apart, and one (1) channel marker to create a 190-foot wide swimming area and a 38-foot wide dinghy access channel seaward of parcel No. 4A Estate Cruz Bay. In addition, this permit authorizes the installation of two (2) private moorings (Nos. 1 and 2 on the referenced drawings) a minimum of 15 feet off of the swimming area.
  • Lovango Shores, LLC. (CZJ-27-16(W) – This permit supersedes minor CZM Permit CZJ-O1-03W and allows the continued use and occupancy of an existing 5′ wide ‘L’ shaped dock (434’ 2” ft of water area). The dock is located in Pillsbury Sound, seaward of Parcel I Remainder, Lovango Cay, St. John, as depicted on OLG Map# D9-71 38-T002.

However, the following was held in committee:

  • Bill No. 32-0008- An Act amending title 25 Virgin Islands Code chapter 16, section 405, relating to mooring and anchoring fees to provide for fee reductions for senior citizens and persons with a disability and veterans

All items approved will be forwarded to the Committee of the Whole for further consideration.

 

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MAJOR CZM PERMITS SENT TO FULL BODY AND $150 MILLION ROADS PROJECTS ON THE MOVE

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ST. CROIX–The Committee on Housing, Public Works, Waste Management and Planning, chaired by Senator Marvin A. Blyden, met Monday in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Conference Room, St. Croix where two major permits were considered and updates on road projects were given by the Commissioner of Public Works, Gustav James.

Henry L. Feuerzeig with the law firm of Dudley, Topper and Feuerzeig, LLP, said that AT&T is asking the Committee to approve Permit CZX-31-16W which would constitute a renewal of Coastal Zone Permit No.CZX-28-94W.

According to Feuerzeig, CZX-28-94W was issued and approved in 1995 by the Legislature for a term of 20-years. The permit specifically authorized AT&T to drill eight (8) 5.75 inch cable conduits to a water depth of 45 feet and placement of cable on the ocean floor seaward of Plot No.4-A, 37BA of Estate Northside Quarter A, St. Croix consisting of 10.95 acres near the town of Frederiksted.

In his testimony, Jean –Pierre Oriol, the Director of Coastal Zone Management for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) said if the AT&T Permit is approved, it would allow for the continued use of the five conduits housing communication cables seaward of Plot No. 4-A Estate Northside, St. Croix.

According to Oriol, a rental fee of $250,000 per year, with increases beginning in the 6th year of the permit’s term, has been negotiated with the permittee for the occupancy of the submerged lands covered under the permit.
It was noted to the committee that the presence of the cable landing does not result in any negative impact to the water quality, nor does it affect other oceanographic characteristic. Furthermore, the renewal of the permit will maintain public access to the shoreline.

Permit CZX-2-16W issued to Garden Beach Recreation Association allows them to replace the wooden decking on the 120-foot long, by 8-foot wide approach bridge which has a 110-foot long by 9-foot wide “T” head dock.
CZM Director Oriol said if approved, the CZX-2-16W Permit will allow for the repair and use of a 120’x8’ pier with a “T” head seaward of Plot No.21 Estate Coakley Bay, St. Croix. Furthermore, as mitigation for the project, the permittee will be removing the un-colonized debris and piles from previously existing boats lift on the dock.

A rental fee of $7,500 per year, with increases beginning in the 6th year of the permit term, has been negotiated. The term of the permit is for 20 years.
Other testifiers were Amy Dempsey, Bioimpact, Inc; Vincent Colianni, Member of Law Firm, Colianni and Colianni; and Gregory Richards, Assistant Director DPNR-CZM;
The Committee voted in favor of both permits and sent them to the Full body for further consideration.

The Commissioner of Public Works said his department is currently managing numerous road projects at various stages of completion. He added that the value of these road projects exceeds $150 million. He along with his Assistant Commissioner Roan Creque, laid out their ambitious plans; the bidding process; and pointed to those roads that are in process and dates of completion both in the districts of St. Croix and St. Thomas.

Committee members at Monday’s meeting were senators: Marvin A. Blyden, Chairman; Sammuel Sanes; Neville A. James; Jean A. Forde; Janette Millin Young; Alicia “Chucky” Hansen and Brian A. Smith.

COMMITTEE ON HOUSING PUBLIC WORKS, HOUSING, WASTE MANAGEMENT & PLANNING CONSIDERS COASTAL ZONING MANAGEMENT PERMITS

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ST. THOMAS— Members of the Committee on Housing, Public Works, Waste Management & Planning met on Wednesday at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall. Chaired by Sen. Marvin Blyden, the meeting was held to consider CZM permits for the island of St. Thomas.

The following Coastal Zoning permits were considered:

RC Hotels VI, Inc. (CZT-3-16W) – to allow the Permittee the continued use and occupancy of an existing 8” diameter x 130’ long seawater intake line to the RO Plant. The line extends seaward of Parcel Nos. 1&3 Estate Nazareth, St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands. The permit was passed favorably and will move for consideration to the Full Body.

Reef Ecology Foundation (CZT-05-15W) – This permit allows the continued use and occupancy of the permanent moorings for day use only at frequently used dive site locations in the territorial waters surrounding the Island of St. Thomas and St. John. The permit was passed favorably and will move for consideration to the Full Body.

Anchorage Condominium Assn. (CZT-10-16W) – This permit allows the continued use and occupancy of a 120-foot, three-inch (3”) seawater intake line which services its reverse osmosis plant. In addition, this permit allows for the continued use and occupancy of the submerged lands for six (6) swimming buoys. This activity is located seaward of parcel No. 8-57-4 Estate Nazareth, St. Thomas. The permit was passed favorably and will move for consideration to the Full Body.

St. Thomas Yacht Club (CZT-4-16(W) – This permit supersedes major Coastal Zone Management Permit No. CZT-12-89(W), and allows for the continued use and occupancy of a 110-9” x 7’-8” dock with a 39’-6” x 8’-6” “1”, a 335 ft2 concrete bulkhead with a length of 58 linear feet, 3,500 ft2 of submerged land surrounding the dock and (1) one wooden pile. The dock is located seaward of Parcels Nos. 8-1-1 & 8-58 Estate Nazareth, St. Thomas, U. S. Virgin Islands. The permit was passed favorably and will move for consideration to the Full Body.

Sanctuary Holdings, LLC (CZT-25-16W) – This permit allows for the installation of eight (8) moorings in two phases. Phase One includes moorings numbered I 4 on Exhibit 8; Phase Two includes moorings numbered 5—8 on Exhibit B. This activity is located seaward of Parcel No. 23, Estate Frenchman’s Bay, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The permit was passed favorably and will move for consideration to the Full Body.

True Crew VI, LLC (CZT-33-16W)-This permit allows for the installation of a private mooring and the operation of a 37-foot “food boat’ known as Pizza Ri. This activity will occur at 1818’33.464”N / 6449’54.955”W in the Christmas Cove area of Jersey Bay, St. Thomas. The permit was passed favorably and will move for consideration to the Full Body.

Before concluding the meeting, Sen. Blyden encouraged everyone to have a safe and wonderful Easter holiday.

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COMMITTEE RECEIVES TESTIMONY ON HOMELESSNESS AND CONDITION OF HOUSING COMMUNITIES IN TERRITORY

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ST. THOMAS- Members of the Committee on Housing, Public Works, Waste Management & Planning, chaired by Sen. Marvin Blyden met on Wednesday at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall to receive status updates and discuss challenges within our territory.

Louise Peterson, Executive Director of the Methodist Training and Outreach Center and President of the V.I. Continuum of Care began her testimony describing homelessness in our territory as a “revolving door crisis”. This crisis can be directly attributed to a variety of underlying, unmet needs — physical, economical, and social.

The Continuum of Care program was designed to promote community-wide goals to end homelessness; provide funding to quickly rehouse homeless individuals (including unaccompanied youths) and families while minimizing trauma and dislocation to those persons; promote access to, and effective utilization of mainstream programs; and optimize self-sufficiency among individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The program is composed of transitional housing, permanent housing, supportive services, and the Homeless Management Information Services (HMIS).

On Friday, January 27, 2017, the COC conducted the required count of the sheltered andunsheltered homeless in our territory. The unsheltered homeless reflected an unduplicated total of three hundred seven (307), individuals, and the sheltered homeless shows sixty-six (66) individuals. The 2017 demographics of the homeless population has remained relatively consistent with previous counted years; with 90% Blacks/African Americans making up majority of the homeless count, 76% with Non-Hispanic, and 96% comprising of males. “The population that is increasing in homelessness are ages 0-17. They are categorized under youths without parents or unaccompanied minors. On St. Thomas, there are 39 individuals, 15 on St. John and 7 on St. Croix,” said Petersen.

Andrea Shillingford, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands, noted that provides services to the homeless and poor in the territory through its shelters, soup kitchens and street outreach programs, which serve approximately 800 persons annually. Bethlehem House Shelters for the Homeless provide safe, drug free environments and two daily meals to temporarily homeless individuals. The agency’s soup kitchens and outreach programs provide meals and clothing to members of the community in need. A free medical clinic, staffed by volunteer doctors, provides medical and dental screening and treatment to the homeless population on the second Saturday of every month.

The clinic is held at the St. Thomas shelter. Homeless individuals and families that reach out to Catholic Charities for assistance often have endured severe hardships such as eviction from housing by relatives or friends, job loss, family disputes, illness, physical, sexual and emotional trauma, and hunger. Most of these hardships may be attributed to a limited education. People who come to Catholic Charities start out with an emergency period of thirty (30) days, where once they are initially stabilized, they can begin to address many of the underlying problems that may have led to their homelessness. Exec. Director Shillingford added, “We continue to have discussions with the Virgin Islands Housing Authority to determine the availability of appropriate housing units for those participating in the Home at Last program.”

Robert Graham, CPM and Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Housing Authority, stated that the VIHA is enthusiastic to partner with all stakeholders who desire to work together to improve the living conditions of Virgin Islanders. The VIHA Transition Agreement Action Plan, was designed by HUD to ensure the sustainability of the authority and address any unresolved performance and compliance deficiencies. “Since several tasks required more time to complete than the original document allowed, HUD extended the timeline to complete unresolved tasks.

Although VIHA expects to significantly complete the tasks during the extension period, the enhanced monitoring by HUD will continue through the HUD report card called Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS). Currently, VIHA has a score of (77) on HUD’s PHAS report card,” said Graham.

The Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8, will experience a $300 million reduction according to recent reports on the federal budget. Coupled with rent increases, this could result in the loss of thousands of vouchers and threaten currently housed families with homelessness.

VIHA receives approximately $14 million annually that provides housing assistance to approximately 1,600 families and seniors. If the average annual subsidy is $9,000 per household, we could lose 111 families for every $1 million in subsidy cuts to the voucher program. Currently, over 838 landlords participate in the program. The public housing operating fund covers day-to-day operational and maintenance expenses not covered by resident rents.

The reported cut to HUD’s operating fund of $600 million is a 13% percent reduction from last year’s funding, and approximately 72% of what is needed. However, for VIHA the operating budget is $25 million in two components; $21 million is federal funding and $4 million is from tenant rent. Thus, a 13% reduction in HUD operating funding would reduce VIHA’s operating budget by $2.7 million.

According to their physical needs assessment, over $333 million is needed to effectively operate and maintain the old public housing inventory. Through the Capital fund program, the Authority has $11.4 million available, with $6.7 million expended for capital projects and operations. Sen. Alicia “Chucky” Hansen urged the VIHA to resume their once vigorous approach to clean up the communities overrun with criminal activity and efforts to make the residents safer. “The residents of William’s Delight are living in fear. Students have to walk through vacant places like Chabert, totally unprotected, just to get their education.”

Daryl Griffith, Acting Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, presented status updates on the Emergency Housing, Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Affordable Housing Programs in the territory. Acting Director Griffith noted that there is a serious need for more emergency and affordable housing within the territory, in addition to listing the current capital projects underway. The meeting concluded with a brief summarization of the VIHFA’s 2nd Amendment to its 3-Year plan.

The measure will be presented at a later time.

 

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SENATE COMMITTEE RECEIVES UPDATE ON CAPITAL PROJECTS FROM WASTE MANAGEMENT, DPNR AND PUBLIC WORKS

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ST. THOMAS The Committee on Housing, Public Works, Waste Management and Planning, chaired by Sen. Marvin Blyden met on Wednesday at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall to receive testimony and current status reports from the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (WMA), the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), and the Department of Public Works.

Roger E. Merritt, Jr., Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, assured the body that under his direction, “The Authority will implement several strategies to overcome our current fiscal constraints.” Merritt Jr., accompanied by Chief Operating Officer Steve Aubin and Chief Engineer Jim Grum, indicated that a significant percentage of their General Fund appropriation is used to maintain critical operational costs for public health, safety and compliance regulations.

The Waste Management Authority noted their appreciation for the $1.7 million appropriation by the 31st Legislature, which delayed the implementation of tipping fees and was used to pay outstanding fees to contractors, provide public hearings and informational handouts for the public. The Public Services Commission (PSC) approved the petition for tipping fees on solid waste collection and disposal services on April 20, 2016. The Authority expects to generate $6.9 million from this plan, that cannot begin until the end of Fiscal Year 2017, due to additional scale-house modifications, weighing scale, compactor repairs and technological systems needed.

The PSC also approved a petition submitted by the WMA to collect special waste fees on electronic waste, freon, lubricating oil and fluorescent light bulbs. The Authority anticipates they will be ready to collect special waste fees by the end of Fiscal Year 2017 and expects to generate $1.2 million annually. The Wastewater User Fee (Sewer Fee), which is collected with property taxes, falls short of its expected collection of $3 million annually. To date, the WMA has not received any funds for Fiscal Year 2017, collected $576,000 total for FY 2015 and $856,000 total for FY 2016.

Last fiscal year, a petition was submitted to the PSC to for various miscellaneous wastewater operation fees, specifically overdue septage disposal fees. The fees are expected to cover costs of services in an effort to expand and improve services offered to all residents in our territory. In recent news, the District Court approved the motion to remove the remaining wastewater treatment plants from the 1984 Consent Decree, which brings the WMA closer to full termination of the decree.  “The Authority continues to search and apply for grants to upgrade the wastewater infrastructure, improve solid waste operations and eliminate public unmanned bin sites in the territory,” stated Executive Director Merritt, Jr.

On St. Croix, the Anguilla Landfill is in the process of stabilizing the final slopes of the site, utilizing approximately 160 tons of waste per day and awaiting approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a redesign that will develop 2 years worth of airspace available for new waste placement. Upon completion of capital improvements required by the Consent Decrees, the Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas will be approved by the EPA for 3 years of airspace available for new waste placement.

The Committee on Housing, Public Works, Waste Management and Planning received testimony from Commissioner Dawn Henry of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources on their ongoing initiatives. The Division of Environmental Protection (EP) recently implemented a new application process that requires all pest companies and applicators to obtain a permit before purchasing Restricted Use Pesticides and specifying where they will be applied in the territory.

The EP officially manages the territory’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program and receives $4.8 million annually from the U.S. EPA to assist in improving the territory’s municipal wastewater facilities and storm water systems. To date, the improvements made thus far have resulted in a reimbursement of $7 million to the Department and recoupment of $1.5 million in indirect costs. The Division of Fish and Wildlife received funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Services for repairs in St. Croix to the Gallows Bay, Altona Lagoon, and Frederiksted docks. All repairs are estimated to be completed by the end of FY 2017. The Division of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) joined efforts with the Virgin Islands Port Authority to expedite the application process by making forms available online.

Commissioner Gustav James of the Department of Public Works provided updates on the status of the major capital projects in progress within the territory. Over 25 major roadway projects are in progress or slated to begin in both districts, notably Veterans Drive and the Moravian Highway on St. Thomas, Bordeaux Mountain and Fish Bay on St. John, along with Mahogany Road and Hamm’s Bluff on St. Croix. Commissioner James concluded his testimony by briefly outlining the 5 major non-road projects in progress, such as the St. Croix Fish Market and Fort Christian on St. Thomas.

While commending the testifiers and their employees for their hard work and commitment within their respective agencies, Members of the 32nd Legislature raised serious concerns with the lack of reasonable compensation for employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands.

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COMMITTEE RECEIVES UPDATE ON CAPITAL PROJECTS FROM WMA, DPNR & PUBLIC WORKS

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ST. THOMAS- The Committee on Housing, Public Works, Waste Management and Planning, chaired by Sen. Marvin Blyden met on Wednesday at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall to receive testimony and current status reports from the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (WMA), the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), and the Department of Public Works.

Roger E. Merritt, Jr., Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, assured the body that under his direction, “The Authority will implement several strategies to overcome our current fiscal constraints.” Merritt Jr., accompanied by Chief Operating Officer Steve Aubin and Chief Engineer Jim Grum, indicated that a significant percentage of their General Fund appropriation is used to maintain critical operational costs for public health, safety and compliance regulations.

The Waste Management Authority noted their appreciation for the $1.7 million appropriation by the 31st Legislature, which delayed the implementation of tipping fees and was used to pay outstanding fees to contractors, provide public hearings and informational handouts for the public. The Public Services Commission (PSC) approved the petition for tipping fees on solid waste collection and disposal services on April 20, 2016. The Authority expects to generate $6.9 million from this plan, that cannot begin until the end of Fiscal Year 2017, due to additional scale-house modifications, weighing scale, compactor repairs and technological systems needed.

The PSC also approved a petition submitted by the WMA to collect special waste fees on electronic waste, freon, lubricating oil and fluorescent light bulbs. The Authority anticipates they will be ready to collect special waste fees by the end of Fiscal Year 2017 and expects to generate $1.2 million annually. The Wastewater User Fee (Sewer Fee), which is collected with property taxes, falls short of its expected collection of $3 million annually. To date, the WMA has not received any funds for Fiscal Year 2017, collected $576,000 total for FY 2015 and $856,000 total for FY 2016.

Last fiscal year, a petition was submitted to the PSC to for various miscellaneous wastewater operation fees, specifically overdue septage disposal fees. The fees are expected to cover costs of services in an effort to expand and improve services offered to all residents in our territory. In recent news, the District Court approved the motion to remove the remaining wastewater treatment plants from the 1984 Consent Decree, which brings the WMA closer to full termination of the decree.  “The Authority continues to search and apply for grants to upgrade the wastewater infrastructure, improve solid waste operations and eliminate public unmanned bin sites in the territory,” stated Executive Director Merritt, Jr.

On St. Croix, the Anguilla Landfill is in the process of stabilizing the final slopes of the site, utilizing approximately 160 tons of waste per day and awaiting approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a redesign that will develop 2 years worth of airspace available for new waste placement. Upon completion of capital improvements required by the Consent Decrees, the Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas will be approved by the EPA for 3 years of airspace available for new waste placement.

The Committee on Housing, Public Works, Waste Management and Planning received testimony from Commissioner Dawn Henry of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources on their ongoing initiatives. The Division of Environmental Protection (EP) recently implemented a new application process that requires all pest companies and applicators to obtain a permit before purchasing Restricted Use Pesticides and specifying where they will be applied in the territory.

The EP officially manages the territory’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program and receives $4.8 million annually from the U.S. EPA to assist in improving the territory’s municipal wastewater facilities and storm water systems. To date, the improvements made thus far have resulted in a reimbursement of $7 million to the Department and recoupment of $1.5 million in indirect costs.

The Division of Fish and Wildlife received funding from the US Fish and Wildlife Services for repairs in St. Croix to the Gallows Bay, Altona Lagoon, and Frederiksted docks. All repairs are estimated to be completed by the end of FY 2017. The Division of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) joined efforts with the Virgin Islands Port Authority to expedite the application process by making forms available online.

Commissioner Gustav James of the Department of Public Works provided updates on the status of the major capital projects in progress within the territory. Over 25 major roadway projects are in progress or slated to begin in both districts, notably Veterans Drive and the Moravian Highway on St. Thomas, Bordeaux Mountain and Fish Bay on St. John, along with Mahogany Road and Hamm’s Bluff on St. Croix. Commissioner James concluded his testimony by briefly outlining the 5 major non-road projects in progress, such as the St. Croix Fish Market and Fort Christian on St. Thomas.

While commending the testifiers and their employees for their hard work and commitment within their respective agencies, Members of the 32nd Legislature raised serious concerns with the lack of reasonable compensation for employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands.

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