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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 The R-3 Zoning District’s Table of Permitted Uses in the outdated zoning code of the Virgin islands dos not allow desalination plants,” she wrote in the memorandum.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.