Many St. John residents expressed disappointment last week with the 27th Legislature’s overwhelming override of Governor John deJongh’s veto of Sirenusa’s zoning variance.
“The people said to the governor, ‘please don’t allow this,’ and he listened,” said Don Lynch, a neighbor of the luxury condominium site overlooking Cruz Bay. “The senate just did what they wanted. I feel like the governor was right on track but the senate sure wasn’t.”
“It’s just a bad day when you reward people who cause a lot of problems and can’t play by the rules,” Lynch added.
In a 13 to one vote in April, senators granted Enighed Condominiums LLC a zoning variance to allow the luxury condo developers to construct an additional seven units — adding a story to each of three buildings — to its $35 million project.
Despite a petition which garnered more then 1,000 signatures in support of deJongh’s veto, the 27th V.I. Legislature voted 14 to 1 on May 29 in favor of an override. The yea votes included the lone Love City legislative voice — St. Johnian Senator at Large Carmen Wesselhoft.
Only St. Thomas/St. John district Senator Louis Hill voted nay to the override.
Wesselhoft stood by her original decision, the senator explained in a prepared statement.
“I stand by original decision and will continue my aggressive pursuit of meaningful initiatives in order to benefit St. John,” said Wesselhoft. “Preventing the completion of Sirenusa will not have any real value and we must, instead, focus our collective efforts on better managing and monitoring future growth.”
The override vote illustrated just how much the senate listened to the wishes of St. John voters, explained former Senator at Large Craig Barshinger.
“Tragedy for Democracy”
“The override vote in the legislature was a tragedy for democracy,” said Barshinger. “St. John’s diverse community spoke with a unanimous voice and the legislature chose to ignore it completely, with the sole exception of Senator Hill.”
“I am deeply disappointed,” Barshinger added.
Other residents couldn’t find the words to express their feelings.
“Disappointed is putting it mildly,” said Katie Porter, who lives nearby the Sirenusa site. “My reaction is expletive deletions.”
Members of the grass-roots organization St. John Coalition, who strongly opposed the Sirenusa zoning variance, were taking stock of their options.
“All options are still on the table and we are considering them all,” said coalition member Attorney Alan Smith. “We are absolutely disappointed. I’m gathering some information that we need to have as part of our decision making process.”
Although rumors of possible court action against Enighed Condominiums have been spreading around Love City, Smith did not comment.
“Court action is only one of the options we are considering,” the attorney said.
Enighed Condominiums owner Carlo Marzano did not return St. John Tradewinds phone calls requesting comment.