The proposed development would put 28 units on the rocky East Bay beach.
Department of Planning and Natural Resources officials do not expect to issue a final decision on a controversial Group Dwelling Permit application for a development on the East End for several more weeks, according to the department’s Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning Director Stuart Smith.
Although Smith expected to hand down a final decision on the application in early May, additional meetings with the developer have pushed that date back, he explained.
“I am meeting with the developers today to go over several items,” Smith said on Tuesday, May 13. “I am not sure what the outcome of the meeting will be, but I think we are looking at least another week or two, maybe more, before we come to any final decision.”
East Bay Holding Company LLC requested a Group Dwelling Permit in order to construct a 28-unit development called East Bay Beach Club on eight acres of land past Privateer Point at Parcel No. Remainder 6A-1 Estate Hansen Bay on the quiet East End of St. John.
Plans for the development include construction of 16 three-bedroom and 12 four-bedroom units, with several one story units along the beach and the remaining two story units on the hillside. Additional amenities include a clubhouse with meeting rooms and a swimming pool with a large deck.
The property is zoned R-1 (residential-1) which allows for the construction of two units per each half-acre. East Bay Beach Club owner Mark Davies requested the Group Dwelling Permit in order to cluster the 28 units on one portion of his eight-acre parcel of land.
Davies owns a total of about 75 acres on the East End which are divided into 35 different lots of various sizes. In order to access the land, the New Jersey-based developer signed an easement agreement with the Privateer Home Owners Association, to the tune of $1 million.
That agreement, according to many of the residents who attended a March 11 public hearing on the Group Dwelling Permit request, prohibited the construction of commercial and large-scale development.
While Davis insisted that the development was in harmony with the land and was not out of the scope of allowable uses under the easement agreement, the 60-member Privateer Bay Home Owners Association did not agree. The group was represented at the March public hearing by Attorney Ron Pennington of Dudley, Topper and Feuerzeig, LLP.
“The easement agreement did not contemplate a cluster of homes,” said Pennington. “This will mimic a hotel and condo area which touches on the commercial prohibitions in the easement agreement.”
East End home owner and green architect Doug White was more blunt in his remarks against East Bay Beach development.
“This is a text-book example of greed-driven development led by a proven failed developer,” said White. “This will become Sirenusa East.”
If DPNR denies the Group Dwelling Permit application, that is the end of the road for East Bay Beach Club in its current configuration. If the application is approved, the project will then be subject to the St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee, a process which the applicant has already started, according to DPNR’s Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning Director.
“If we deny the application there is no next step for the project the way it is drawn now,” Smith said. “If we grant the Group Dwelling Permit, they will go through the CZM process. They have gotten a good portion of the way through the CZM process already, but it had to wait for the Group Dwelling Permit decision.”