Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Developers To Present Plan For Resort, Timeshares And Villas At Botany Bay

Botany Bay Partners is once again seeking major Coastal Zone Permits to build a timeshare resort development on its 360-acre West End property.

Several years ago, the owners ignited public controversy over how such a development would affect the largely pristine environment.

The developer will present its latest plans at a St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Palms Court Harborview Hotel.

Botany Bay Partners' timeshare resort plans comprise nine buildings that are two-stories tall. The buildings would have 48 rental units and 18 suites.

Since the suites can be divided in half so each becomes two units, there will be 84 total rooms available at the timeshare resort, according to the owner's CZM application.

Major permits also are needed for a reverse osmosis facility because of its intake and discharge lines into the bay.

Farther inland on the property, the owners plan to build 16 two-story buildings that would house 31 timeshare units. Five more two-story buildings would be divided into 40 villas. The villa units would have 80 parking spaces.

Other structures planned to support the development include a market, health club, clubhouse, swim-up bar, a reception building, manager's residence, 500,000-gallon potable water storage tank, two 1.5-megawatt emergency generators, a water treatment plant, a reverse osmosis facility, a restaurant and a 186-space parking lot.

St. John Real Estate is also marketing 42 estate lots, ranging between 3 and 15 acres in size, for the owners.

Botany Bay Partners' original plans submitted to CZM in 2002 called for a greater density of development on the property. It consisted of a 125-room hotel, 80 time share units, 80 vacation villas, a number of commercial buildings to support the project and 40 estate lots for private residences.

The owners first attempt to build a timeshare resort on the property ignited public outrage and triggered legal action from a local environmental group.

In 2000, the owners bought the property for $11 million.

In late 2001, both the V.I. Legislature and Gov. Charles Turnbull approved Botany Bay Partners' request to rezone 68 acres of its property to allow construction of the resort and timeshares.

The Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John then filed an unsuccessful lawsuit in Territorial Court seeking to overturn Turnbull's decision. EAST's concerns ranged from the project's erosion control mechanisms and sewage treatment plant to archaeological preservation.

In September 2002, the St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee approved Botany Bay Partners' request for a major CZM permit to build the resort and timeshares part of the project. CZM staff had recommended that members reject the application, saying developers submitted inadequate analysis of the project's environmental impact.

In March 2003, EAST filed an appeal with Board of Land Use Appeals to override the committee's approval of the permit. The appeal was never heard because Botany Bay Partners voluntarily relinquished its major CZM permit last March.

In December of 2004, developers started installing infrastructure to the area, and they said at the time that their plans no longer involved a hotel or timeshare complex and would just sell residential lots and build light commercial services to support the new neighborhood.

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