The Fund for Coral Bay
The Save Coral Bay Fund
Coral Bay Harbor is a unique body of water on the undeveloped, eastern part of St John, US Virgin Islands. Its lush sea grass meadows are habitat for endangered sea turtles, its fringing mangroves are a shark nursery, and on its shores are historic structures dating back hundreds of years.
Today Coral Bay Harbor is under attack from outside investors who only see it as a destination for mega yachts, luxury stores and resort hotels. They want to take over the harbor, destroy its natural habitat, and replace all of that natural and historic beauty with environmentally destructive over-built marinas, luxury retail, and large-scale resort hotels. They literally want to "pave paradise and put up a parking lot".
Our campaign's mission is to protect and rehabilitate the environment of Coral Bay so it can be enjoyed by future generations.
We are now fighting two environmentally destructive, large-scale development projects. At the local level, we are appealing the VI Coastal Zone Management permits for the Summer's End Group mega yacht marina which were approved by authorities in the Virgin Islands without proper environmental review. We are also defending Coral Bay at the federal level, since these projects require permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, with input from the EPA, NOAA, and FWS. With a new resort and marina application filed late in 2015 by the Sirius Development group, our need for funding legal and expert expenses is likely to increase, particularly since we will very likely be fighting two projects simultaneously.
Once we have defeated these immediate threats, our next task is to plan the small sustainable improvements to Coral Bay that will improve its health and correct the mistakes of the past. Long term, our goal is to work with others to implement protective measures ensuring that Coral Bay can be enjoyed in its natural state by future generations.
Every dollar of your contribution received by us will go to the fight to preserve, protect, and enhance Coral Bay.
Funds for these purposes will be managed by the Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC), a trusted local nonprofit organization.
About the Coral Bay Community Council
The mission of our fiscal sponsor, the Coral Bay Community Council, is to provide an effective means for residents of Coral Bay to participate in planning the future of Coral Bay development. The CBCC and its members fully support and stand behind the activities of the Save Coral Bay Fund.
If you would like to donate to the Save Coral Bay Fund by check, please make your check out to the Coral Bay Community Council and include the words "Save Coral Bay Fund" on the memo line. Instructions and the address for mailing checks may be found here. Mailed donations are kept confidential, unless you request otherwise.
To keep up to date with the activities of the Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC) and become a CBCC member go to www.coralbaycommunitycouncil.org.
July 8 2016, was a milestone for Save Coral Bay. After waiting sixteen months for the Board of Land Use Appeals (BLUA) to convene a hearing on our Coastal Zone Management (CZM) appeal, we finally were able to file what is known as a "Writ of Review" in Superior Court. The Virgin Islands Conservation Society (VICS), in conjunction with Save Coral Bay, filed that lawsuit yesterday.
The Writ of Review requests that the court vacate the permits which were improperly granted to Summers End in October 2014. These court proceedings can take a long time to reach a conclusion, but Save Coral Bay has the resources, the time, and the motivation to see this ill-conceived project through to its inevitable conclusion - the end of Summers End.
I will be posting the entire Writ of Review on our website, but here are the conclusions and remedies excerpted from the Writ which summarize the arguments in the case:
CZM-STJ’s actions were arbitrary and capricious and failed to comply with the CZMA. It erred because it:
a. failed to consolidate the two permit applications and consider the cumulative impact of the development upon the entire coastal zone;
b. failed to consolidate the two permit applications and therefore did not subject the land-aspects of the development to the scrutiny required in 12 V.I.C. § 911;
c. granted the permits when SEG had failed to prove that it had the required legal interest in the properties and authority to develop the properties;
d. granted the permits when the EARs were insufficient, both as a matter of law and of fact;
e. failed to make any findings of fact that allowed its decisions to be properly reviewed on appeal;
f. failed to make all of the conclusions required by 12 V.I.C. § 911(c);
g. made some of the conclusions (by adopting CZM Staff recommendations) required by 12 V.I.C. §§ 910 and 910(c) when those conclusions are not supported by the substantial evidence of record;
h. failed to state the basis for the rental calculations for the Water Permit as required by the CZMA;
i. imposed improper conditions upon the Water Permit; and
j. proceeded to consider the permit with the participation of a Committee member who was disqualified from taking any steps to advance the progress of the permit.
The decision of VIBLUA was erroneous because it:
a. consolidated, without any statutory authority, the Land Permit and Water Permit instead of vacating the two permits when it recognized that they were improperly considered separately;
b. affirmed the decision of CZM-STJ despite all of the errors listed above.
VICS prays that after due proceedings, this Court:
A. grant its writ of review;
B. order that no surety bond under Rule 15(b) of the Rules of the Superior Court is required, in as much as any decision of the Court is unlikely to result in an order directed at VICS that would require surety to ensure compliance;
C. direct the clerk of court to issue the writ to the Respondent with instructions that the Respondent shall return the writ to the Court within 20 days together with a certified copy of the record;
D. direct the Respondent to answer the petition, and, direct that in each instance where Respondent denies an allegation of the petition the Respondent cite to the portions of the record that it asserts support the denial;
E. after Respondent has answered the petition, establish a briefing schedule; and
F. reverse the decision of the Board of Land Use Appeals and remand with instructions that the Board of Land Use Appeals remand the permits to CZM-STJ with instructions that the Permits be vacated.
SAVE CORAL BAY for future generations - with your support we definitely will !
The BLUA hearing on April 5 was, if nothing else, very confusing. Our purpose in pursuing the BLUA appeal of the Summer's End CZM decision was to get to one of two outcomes: either an outright denial of the CZM permits, or the chance to argue our case in court. We got the latter, and then some.
SEG's objective was to have their two CZM permits approved by BLUA. Instead, BLUA decided to combine the Land and Water permits, so Summer's End cannot do anything until they get their water permit approved, and they cannot get that until they get an Army Corps permit. So, basically, BLUA passed the buck to the Army Corps.
We won't know exactly what our next steps are until we see the written decision of BLUA, but based on what we heard today we expect that we will soon be in Virgin Islands Superior Court filing an appeal.
All of this costs money, and we'll be needing to replenish our legal defense fund, so please consider making a donation to our legal fund today.
Save Coral Bay for future generations !
IN A NUTSHELL -
The Summers End Group has been forced to resubmit their Army Corps permit application because the previous application has been determined to be incomplete. In March the US Fish and Wildlife Service rescinded the grant that had been given to SEG. As a result, the Army Corps then became the lead agency and they reviewed the application, requested a new submission from SEG, and will publish a new Public Notice. At that time we will most likely need to resubmit our comment letters. What did SEG change in their "new" application? Virtually nothing, except they totally removed the 75 position mooring field. It's still the same environmentally destructive mega marina on 1,333 steel pilings, covering 28 acres of Coral Bay. So when the time comes we will need to find the comment letters we sent in January and resubmit them. Instructions to follow ...
THE FULL STORY -
You remember this past January and February when we submitted thousands of letters in opposition to the Summers End Group mega marina plans. You remember that five federal agencies voiced strong objections to the SEG plans. And in March the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rescinded the federal grant that had previously been awarded to SEG.
Last year, when SEG filed their Army Corps permit application, the FWS was still on the record as having awarded a funding grant to SEG. According to federal regulations FWS, as a funding agency, thereby became the "lead agency" in the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review of the Army Corps permit. However, when FWS pulled the plug on the grant in March, they lost that lead agency status and the project came back to the Army Corps of Engineers as lead agency.
The first thing the Corps did was assign a new project manager to the permit review. The first thing the new project manager did was take a fresh look at the permit application and he concluded that it had multiple deficiencies and was "incomplete". He told SEG that they needed to correct those deficiencies and submit a new permit application. That all happened in April.
Last week we received a copy of the "new" permit application submitted to the Army Corps by SEG. It is virtually identical to the original plan with a few exceptions. First, they have removed the "mooring field" that was never adequately described or designed in the original plan. They've made no changes whatsoever to the 145 slip mega marina. They've included a description of the land-based project components in the application. Based on these changes the Corps is now preparing a new "Public Notice" announcing a new Public Comment Period. The notice could be published as soon as this week.
Clearly, the "new application" does not address any of the major flaws identified by our group and all the federal agencies.
What does all of this mean? Basically, SEG has been forced back to square one in their Army Corps permit application process. This gives us an opportunity to update our comments, if necessary. There's nothing to do right now, and I will keep everyone informed as soon as any new information surfaces. We all know the drill - when the time comes, if necessary, we will send in our comment letters and get the job done. Our lawyers will be all over the case with our formal comments, revised to reflect any changes in the application.
All of the prior federal agency comments are in the public record and since Summers End has not addressed any of the issues raised in those comments, they are still perfectly valid. The designation of all of Coral Bay as an "Aquatic Resource of National Importance (ARNI)" still holds and provides the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the authority to veto any Army Corps permit which does not address the concerns of the EPA.
So this is just another part of the process, ensuring a "by the book" review of the SEG permit application - a little extra work for us, but a lot of additional time, delay and expense for SEG - none of which they have to spare.
Ashley, we've already spent around half of the money that has been raised so far on legal expenses to fight the marina. The permit review process will take years, and we will need far more money than we have raised to date in order to continue this fight. If, at the end of the process, there is surplus money in the fund, then it will go to support small sustainable improvements to Coral Bay that will ensure its health for future generations. The Coral Bay Community Council holds ALL of the money raised in this GoFundMe campaign.
not suprised that the politicans were in bed with the rich developers...status quo for policitians...I'm sure pockets were greased as necessary. Obviously this ridiculous project never should have made it past the CZM stage. Coral Bay is a lovely beautiful unspoiled paradise that should not be ruined by such a huge marina development. Can't the national park service assist with killing this developer's plans? Time to get someone else with deep pockets to assist saving marine habitat!!
Mega yachts should not be in the middle of this habitat, destroying sea turtles and coral. My family fell in love with the island because it is mostly parkland, and a preserve for endangered wild life and sea creatures. It would be wrong to build in of the few untouched places left in the world.
I have been an avid traveler my entire life, but always avoided the Caribbean like the plague. The vision of cruise ships, strip shopping centers, and huge crowds never appealed to me. Then came St. John and I fell in love with an unspoiled island. This intended project is way too "mega" for such a small space. The fallout from such an endeavor will not only negatively impact the ecosystem of the island, but the tentacles into the land side stand only to create traffic and litter to an already beautiful pristine place.
I was just there last week, nosing around the old boatyard behind Skinny's. I mean, yeah maybe a new marina would be OK for the area, but it would absolutely have to be quite small scale, with a very low profile that would fit in with the overall, laid-back vibe of Coral Bay. Who's kidding who, St. John will never be a luxury destination like St. Bart's -- or let's hope to hell it never gets to that point, ever!
This cause means the world to our family, St. John, but most specifically CORAL BAY has been our "happy place" we return every year & love the waters, the peace & quiet (except for the occasional rooster, totally cool) :) the friendly people, Skinnys, vies, Tourist Trap, & we loved Donkey diner, the "dip" signs, the goats & donkeys. The fact that it doesn't change & end up looking like every place I've ever been on cruise ship stops. It truly is so special & unique it would sadden my heart & my family's,' if it were to ever change. One of my daughters has been coming since she was 5, she's 19 now & this is HER feel good place. It is in all of our hearts.
I'm so glad you've raised the bar & the GOAL ! We have so much momentum growing - from all over the USA as they are learning about this through Social Media, friends, and now radio and more mainstream media !. Our sister islands of St Croix and St Thomas are getting even more involved as they are hearing about the fight to #SaveCoralBay -- MANY people are wanting their voices heard & a chance to Help .
We all have to find a way to skip a latte or two and instead put that $5 in the kitty. There are thousands of us following this tragedy in the making and if everyone just kicked in $5 all goals would be met. While the header says "save Coral Bay" your donation is about a larger truth--saving the biosphere, here and everywhere. We have advanced far enough as a civilization that we no longer need to cut down old growth redwoods and destroy precious ecosystems to make the economy work. People, like the marinas developers, are dinosaurs--they don't get it. Stopping this marina will teach them and theirs a necessary lesson. It will be a posted warning.
Well it's a real shame that we have to raise funds to fight a ridiculous developer, but that happens all over in beautiful places and now it's our turn. With any luck the federal agencies will put a stop to all this and the funds can be used to make Coral Bay beautiful and add some enhancing infrastructure for all to enjoy. Unfortunately we can't count on this so we must protect our bay now! Either way it's nice to have all who love St. John and Coral Bay united to make our beloved place the best it can be. Thank you all for sharing the love for Coral Bay!