USVI - Opinion: The St. John Coastal Zone – Who is in charge?
The St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee is composed of members who all live on St. John and are tasked with the responsibility of making decisions regarding major uses of St. John’s coastal resources.
“The Legislature hereby finds and declares that … the protection of the natural and scenic resources of the coastal zone is of vital concern to present and future residents of the United States Virgin Islands.” 12 VIC § 903(a)
“The Legislature hereby determines that [a] basic goal of the United States Virgin Islands for its coastal zone [is] … to promote public participation in decisions affecting coastal planning conservation and development.” 12 VIC § 903(b)
With these two sentences, in 1978, the 12th Legislature of the Virgin Islands of the United States of America declared a goal and policy for management of our precious coastal zone: to protect natural and scenic resources with maximum public participation in critical decisions impacting these resources.
The St. John Coastal Zone Management Committee is composed of members who all live on St. John and are tasked with the responsibility of making decisions regarding major uses of St. John’s coastal resources. In October 2020, the St. John CZM Committee decided, unanimously, that the placement of a 5,000 square foot floating bar in treacherous waters between the uninhabited nature preserve of Grass Cay and the uninhabited and protected Mingo Cay, was inconsistent with the goal of protecting natural and scenic resources.
The St. John CZM Committee found, based on extensive public testimony, that the location of the proposed floating lounge was unsafe for the public, presented threats to reefs and shorelines and that there were alternative locations that must be thoroughly considered before approving placement at the proposed site.