Roller Granted Rezoning for Coral Bay Eco-Resort

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Hugo Roller’s plans for his Coral Bay eco-resort include elevated tree house-style accommodations with pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly sidewalks, open fields, and fruit trees throughout.

The V.I. Legislature voted last week to approve a rezoning and variance request submitted by Hugo Roller for his land in Estate Carolina for the purpose of constructing an eco-resort and community commercial center.

The governor has 10 days following the Legislature’s approval to veto the bill; however, Roller does not anticipate that happening.

“I was told that all 15 senators voted for it, so I see nothing that would appear objectionable to the governor,” he said.

Roller’s request asked that 2.5 acres be rezoned from A-2 to B-3, and that 11.4 acres, currently zoned A-2, be given a variance for the campground.

Plans for the property include elevated tree house-style accommodations, a restaurant, a health and fitness facility offering spa treatments, and perhaps a larger supermarket.

Roller testified in March before the senate that the latest green technologies will be used throughout the project, and said that he hopes the addition of the eco-resort will allow his family’s farm to become a “truly sustainable operation.”

Roller stressed in his testimony that the project will remain in harmony with the surrounding community.

“The objective is that growth will be achieved with, rather than in opposition to, the character of the community,” he said in his testimony.

After two years of planning the eco-resort at his Coral Bay Garden Center farm, Roller was thrilled with the news that his rezoning request had been approved.

“I was elated,” he said. “How can you help but be elated after that type of ordeal?”

Roller and his wife Josephine Roller, who together run the Coral Bay Garden Center, are anxious to begin the project.

“We definitely want to move forward quickly to try and get this thing accomplished,” he said, noting that the project will be phased in over 10 years.

Residents expressed concern about the rezoning at a May 22, 2012, Department of Planning and Natural Resources hearing on the rezoning. Concerns ranged from the size of the project to the fact that the B-3 zoning opens up the door to numerous different uses that may not fit in with the Coral Bay community.

Roller said he hopes to deliver a satisfactory project, quelling the fears of Coral Bay residents.

“I feel it’s a challenge to rise above all their comments and to present the community with an eco-resort that goes beyond everybody’s expectation,” said Roller. “That’s the best I can do. What I want to accomplish is something positive; that’s what this resort is going to be about.”

The eco-resort will feature a main welcoming center, with pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly sidewalks throughout. Staying true to the nature of the Coral Bay Garden Center, there will be gardens and open fields where wild island animals go to pasture. Fruit trees will dot the landscape.

Guests at Roller’s eco-resort will be encouraged to become friendly with one another, possibly filling the void of a community-centric eco-resort that will be left when Maho Bay Camps closes on May 15.

“Unquestionably, Maho’s closing has been an incredible incentive to bring this to fruition,” said Roller. “At Maho, guests wait in line to eat, use the bathroom, and shower, and there’s a certain cameraderie that results. We want to bring that kind of element into what we’re going to offer.”