With the developer reportedly getting ready to apply for a temporary certificate of occupancy to allow owners to begin to move in their belongings, the Grande Bay development looks less like a gaping hole in the hill, and is coming together to look more like a condominium complex.
Bay Isle Associates has survived through both a lawsuit and a veto of the developer’s request to re-zone a 0.28-acre parcel from W-1 to R-4 at its Grande Bay Resort luxury condominium development by then-Gov. Char-les Turnbull.
The developer’s road to completion has been a long one.
Request for Injunction
Bay Isle Associates’ request to re-zone the 0.28-acre parcel was initially approved by the V.I. Senate in November 2005, just one day after four St. John property owners — Alexander Jadan, Natalie Jadan, Anastasia Trey and Liza Trey — filed a lawsuit against the developer, alleging three zoning violations: height, density and lack of lateral support.
The plaintiffs, who own a 650-square-foot cottage 35 feet south of the development called Paradise Found, requested the court issue a permanent injunction to stop Grande Bay developers from continuing with further plans that would cause violations of the R-4 zoning of their 1.03-acre property.
Just one month later, Bay Isle was slapped with Turnbull’s veto to their V.I. Senate-approved zoning request.
“While this bill has gone through the legislative process and the proper hearings have been held, there has been a ground-swell of opposition to the proposed rezoning on the island of St. John,” said Turnbull.
“I have decided not to approve this bill because the development would likely increase noise pollution in the residential neighborhood, exacerbate the parking situation, and create unpleasant and unhealthy im-pacts on residents in the immediate surrounding area, the Governor added”
Following the governor’s veto, construction continued at Grande Bay’s adjacent 1.03-acre property, and in December 2006, Bay Isle responded to the property owners’ lawsuit with a motion to dismiss alleging the plaintiffs did not use proper administrative channels, such as filing a complaint with the Board of Land Use Appeals, before taking their case to court.
Motion to Dismiss Denied
Bay Isle’s motion to dismiss the suit was denied by Judge Rhys Hodge in May, 2006, while the plaintiffs’ request for a permanent injunction to stop construction at Grande Bay was also denied.
“The interests of the public do not support the issuance of an injunction when this case only involved two landowners who will get the benefits of their recognized property interests,” stated Hodge in his ruling.
Hodge’s denial allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with their claims for damages, and the case entered the discovery phase, where each side continues to prepare for trial.
“We will certainly be requesting documents from them and asking them to answer written questions for us, and they will do the same to us,” said one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Lorren Caffee. “I know we’re going to be doing depositions of Department of Planning and Natural Resources individuals, the people associated with the defendants and certainly the architects that were involved.”
The discovery phase is expected to continue through 2007, with a potential trial date of late 2008, Liza Trey previously told the St. John Tradewinds.
“Anybody that has been, or is, affiliated with that project will be deposed,” said Trey. “That includes expert witnesses that have yet to be named.”
When contacted last week for an update on the lawsuit, Trey had no further comments.
In the meantime, Bay Isle applied for and received approval for a “three-story family residence with a mezzanine,” on the developer’s W-1 parcel in October, 2006, according to DPNR spokesperson Jamal Neilsen.
The “residence” could be as large as 30,000 square feet based on zoning laws and the size of the lot, which is located next to the Grande Bay Resort.