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Some stunning stats in this article - not sure if they are all accurate or not - I was not aware things were quite so bad:
"In St John, the average price of condominium units plummeted to around US $300,000 this year, down 50.5% from 2009 prices. The average home sales price dropped 14% to US $1.28 million in 2009, but has rallied in 2010 with a 7% increase to US $1.37 million according to Islandia Real Estate. And the market for villas has started to look up in 2010 with a 15% increase in sales from 2009."
CZM HOST FREE WORKSHOPS ON ST. THOMAS AND ST. CROIX FOR PERMIT AND LEASE PROCESS
The Department of Planning and Natural Resources/Division of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is pleased to invite you to participate in a CZM Permitting and Lease Workshop. This workshop is free and open to local Government Agencies, Architects, Engineers, Draftsmen, Contractors, Community Organizations and other interested persons. The workshop will provide information about minor and major CZM development permit applications, permit review process, local/federal consistency regulatory updates, lease applications, and compliance with approved CZM permit conditions.
For St. Thomas and St. John residents, this workshop will be conducted on August 24, 2010, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., at the Small Business Development Training Center, 8000 Nisky Center, Suite 720.
For St. Croix residents, this workshop will be conducted on August 26, 2010, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., at the Port Authority Conference Room at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. Free parking at the airport will be available to attendees.
Please complete the attached registration form by August 18, 2010, to confirm your attendance. Space is limited so register now. Return your application via fax to (340) 714-9524 or email to email@example.com
Virgin Islands taxpayers are reminded that the reissued May 28, 2009 income tax refund checks are available for pick up from the Bureau's offices on all three islands. Taxpayers are asked to bring one photo ID with proof of their social security number in order to claim the reissued checks. Taxpayers are also reminded to return the incorrect check to the Bureau's offices, if they haven't already done so.
"Taxpayers who have already negotiated the incorrect refund check are urged to contact the Bureau immediately to make arrangements to repay any overpayment. Those taxpayers who may have already cashed a check for an amount less than was owed are also asked to contact the Bureau for additional instructions," said BIR Director Claudette Watson-Anderson.
The Bureau's staff is available to address both taxpayer situations on a priority basis. Questions should be directed to the Bureau's Processing Branch at (340) 715-1040, ext. 4221 on St. Croix, ext. 2257 on St. Thomas and 777-1446 on St. John.
From the Source:
Oct. 30, 2008 -- The V.I. Public Services Commission will hold four hearings to get public input as part of rate investigations of Vitelco and on the ferry companies plying the St. Thomas-St. John circuit.
The PSC has oversight of utility rates, with a mandate to ensure rates are reasonable and non-discriminatory. Under V.I. Code, since 2001 the PSC must perform a rate review every five years on its regulated utilities. The last review for Vitelco was in April 2003 and the last rate schedule was approved in August 2003, so a new rate review is required by law.
Vitelco parent Innovative Communications is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, and Vitelco is slated to be sold to pay some of Innovative's debts. But efforts to sell these corporate entities have been complicated by both the global credit crunch and, locally, by the lack of clarity (for potential buyers) of the Vitelco rate structure. As a result, the corporate-sales efforts were suspended earlier in the summer, while sales continued for other assets of ex-Innovative CEO Jeffrey Prosser, such as works of art, expensive automobiles and real estate.
From the St. Thomas Source:
Oct. 12, 2008 -- A court-approved freeze on the recent property-tax bill recall will allow the government to reissue fiscal year 2006 bills and collect the revenue it needs to sustain the FY 2009 budget, according to government officials.
The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority will be hosting Public Workshops Moderated by CIPA, Inc. on "Planning For Economic Development in the U.S. Virgin Islands"
Come and play an active role in planning the future of economic development in the Virgin Islands. Provide your opinions and insight as a citizen and/or business owner in our territory on some the following issues:
1) How can the EDA improve the current economic development situation in the Territory ?
2) What is your vision for economic development in the Territory?
3) How can the public participate in economic development?
4) What should be the goals & objectives for economic development in the Territory?
5) What are the greatest challenges for the economic development of the Territory?
September 30 @ The V.I. Port Authority Conference Room at The Henry Rohlsen Airport in St. Croix
October 1 @ Victor's Hideout Conference Room in St. Thomas
October 2 @ The St. John Legislature Conference Room (behind the former Hilltop Bldg.) in Cruz Bay, St. John 6:30 p.m.
If you would like to attend or need further information, please contact the EDA at 714-1700, ext. 258 by September 29, 2008.
Interesting news for US Virgin Islands home owners from the St. Thomas Source this morning:
Sept. 15, 2008 -- All 2006 property-tax bills have been rescinded based on a District Court ruling, but the Division of Property Tax cautions residents to "make provisions for the eventual payment of these taxes once the legal issues are resolved." A statement issued Monday by the Division of Property Tax advises property owners "to withhold payments of their 2006 property-tax bills until further notice."
Been meaning to post this from last week's Source:
Aug. 21, 2008 -- Property tax bills for fiscal year 2006 are scheduled to be mailed by Friday, even though no final ruling has been handed down in a longstanding court case that challenges whether the territory's property tax system is fair and equitable.
In 2000, a group of commercial property owners took the V.I. government to court, alleging the government was assessing commercial properties based on replacement rather than actual property value -- a method, they said, that resulted in inflated assessments. Thomas Moore, then the sitting U.S. District Court judge, agreed, and in 2003 ordered the government to conduct a thorough revaluation of commercial and residential properties. Meanwhile, property-tax values were frozen at 1998 levels until the project was complete and a new assessment system -- which had to be certified by a court-appointed special master -- was put in place. The court case prevented the government from issuing property tax bills for 2006 and 2007.
From our friends at the St. Thomas Source:
June 30, 2008 -- New property-tax bills will be sent out by July 31, Raymond Williams, chief of staff for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, told the Senate Finance Committee on Monday during budget hearings in Frederiksted.
They will be the first bills under a recently completed property revaluation, and the first bills under a new set of property-tax rates and exemptions.
From The Source - it seems like people are really getting fed up with the mail issues in the USVI:
May 6, 2008 -- Fed up with ongoing mail delays in the territory, Delegate Donna M. Christensen has asked for an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service's inspector general.
"Whether it is the extraordinary length of time it takes for packages and periodicals to get to customers or packages not being delivered at all, the situation has become intolerable," Christensen said, according to a news release from her Washington office.
In her letter to the inspector general, Christensen asks for the investigation and the return to the practice of the Virgin Islands processing its own mail instead of having it processed in Puerto Rico. The letter was co-signed with Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and District of Columbia.
Economic stimulus checks are coming from the feds to the USVI:
"April 28, 2008 -- The Virgin Islands government will soon receive $41.5 million from the U.S. Treasury to give $600 checks to most of the territory's taxpayers.
Congress passed a $150 billion dollar economic stimulus package earlier in the year calling for cash rebates to every taxpayer, with the goal of jump starting the economy with a rush of consumer spending. Those with direct deposit of their taxes began getting money in their accounts Monday. But the rebates put the Virgin Islands and other territories with tax systems tied to the federal rates in a bind. Because the territory collects income taxes locally at the rates set for federal income tax, the rebate checks would have come directly out of the V.I. government till, putting the budget $41.5 million in the hole."
More here from The Source.
This guy has been in hot water for awhile, and he also had a USVI connection:
"In the Virgin Islands, there are accusations that Mr. Jackson helped another friend, an Atlanta lawyer, secure nearly $1 million for managing the local housing authority."
From the St. Thomas Source:
April 9, 2008 -- After a four-year effort, the V.I. government has finally met court mandates to put in place a comprehensive property tax reform and assessment system, according to the special master appointed by the judiciary to oversee the process. In late March, Joseph Hunt sent a favorable report to U.S. District Court Judge Curtis Gomez, saying that the government "is in compliance with the court's directive to put in place an assessment system and procedures that are proper and capable of producing credible and reliable assessments as required by law."
The St. Thomas Source has an article about the Property Tax Bill:
" March 11, 2008 -- A comprehensive property tax reform bill recently passed by the Legislature cuts an extra $27.4 million dollars from anticipated revenues for fiscal year 2008 and continues to throw this year's budget out of whack, the governor says.
While Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed a majority of the bill into law Monday, he line-item vetoed sections in which he said the reductions would be "too great a variance" for the government to absorb."
The St. Thomas Source is reporting:
"Feb. 5, 2008 -- New changes will make the governor's property-tax bill more palatable for senators and allay residents' fears of having to pay two sets of property taxes in fiscal year 2008, Gov. John deJongh Jr. said Tuesday. The administration's first attempt at creating a comprehensive property-tax proposal was quashed recently by a split vote cast during the last legislative session. During a press conference held at Government House on St. Thomas, deJongh also said that he has called senators into special session Thursday morning to vote on the revised plan, which still contains many of the same provisions submitted to the Legislature months ago -- including increases in exemptions for elderly citizens and veterans, as well as the establishment of a multi-rate tax structure with four different property classes."More here.
Frank Barnako is reporting:
Published reports quote government officials saying villa owners - and everybody else with a stake in real estate in the territory - can expect some new numbers within a week or so. They may mean lower tax bills. Or not. It's said that Bearing Point, which conducted a review of all properties on the three islands, has been dealing with hundreds of complaints and appeals, a reported 660 on St. John alone. Bearing Point has reviewed some of its work, and some of the properties, and is going to issue re-revaluations within a week or two.
More about real estate values and residents reactions here from the VI Daily News.
A recap from the St. Thomas Source about some projects going on around the Territory:
"A consultant will look at several plans, as well as all forms of surface travel, public transportation and road infrastructure. PB America, which has worked with DPW in the past, is being asked to undertake a so-called multi-modul examination using federal funding, as the territory works to make sense of clogged and inferior roadways. The plans on St. Thomas include: -- the Long Bay Road Project, an expansion project currently underway, extending from Lovers Lane to Mandala Circle south to the entrance of West Indian Corp. and north on Hospital Line to Kmart; -- Plan 8, an expansion and re-routing project on the books for years, intended to re-route traffic around the Legislature by filling in a portion of the bay; -- Veterans Drive safety improvements, roadway expansion and bulkhead repairs along the downtown waterfront; and -- The East-West Corridor, an improvement and expansion project extending from the airport to Red Hook and encompassing all of the above. As he anticipates tackling not just major projects, but undoubtedly major concerns, given the sensitivity of anything that impacts the Charlotte Amalie historic district, Smalls has some credits under his belt. On St. Croix, drainage problems in Williams Delight are being addressed, and Smalls says construction on Midland Road, long neglected, is nearing completion. On St. Thomas, work on a bypass on Leonard Trotman Drive in Tutu is underway, taking travelers behind the mall and to the site of the new public library. Groundbreaking is slated for approximately June 2008. Also, much-needed improvements are underway on the Red Hook Road and work will commence at the Coki Point beach entrance. Work is also planned at the Nadir-Bovoni intersection, as well as the roadway through Lima, and finally at Drake's Seat. In the West End, road work near Fortuna is on the drawing board. St. John will soon see some improvements on the Bordeaux Mountain Road. "I truly believe there's light at the end of the tunnel," said Smalls, who gives himself a "C" grade so far. "I always like to improve. It helps me grow."
The St. Thomas Source is reporting today:
Jan. 17, 2008 -- There was a flurry of motions but little movement Thursday in U.S. District Court on St. Croix as Judge Raymond L. Finch heard a laundry list of defense and prosecution motions in the case of James A. Auffenberg Jr. and three other men charged with evading federal taxes by misusing the V.I. Economic Development Commission program.
The U.S. Department of Justice is charging that the four men illegally claimed a 90 percent federal tax break on more than $300 million funneled through the St. Croix-based company Kapok Management, L.P. It alleges that Auffenberg, a prominent car dealer in Swansea, Ill., illegally avoided more than $74 million in taxes from 1999 to 2002 by joining Kapok as a partner and shipping money to Kapok, run by Peter G. Fagan of De Leon, Texas; James W. Ferguson III of Amarillo, Texas; and J. David Jackson of St. Croix. All four have pleaded innocent.
This is a very interesting case - a guilty conviction here could have a major impact on the territory.
Federal investigation at HUD has a possible Virgin Islands connection:
"Separately, according to people familiar with the investigation, federal agents are closely examining whether Keller aided Jackson in arranging lucrative housing work for two of Jackson's close friends. One of them got work at HANO, and the other received a contract to manage the Virgin Islands Housing Authority. Last month, a federal agent served a search warrant at Keller's home in Alexandria, Va., the sources said."
From the St. Thomas Source:
Nov. 20, 2007 -- Despite concerns raised by senators about the impact new residential values will have on taxpayers, members of the governor's financial team said Tuesday that a new rate structure proposed by the governor would "spare the community" any major financial hardship.
News from the St. Thomas Source today of Governor deJongh vetoing a couple of bills - including the following:
"DeJongh also vetoed a rezoning request that would have allowed for the construction of a commercial center -- replete with retail stores, luxury condominiums and themed restaurants -- to Smith Bay. During a recent Senate hearing, representatives from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources expressed concern about the request. Developers asked for a zoning variance -- which allows the property to be used for something other than its designated purpose -- to allow for the construction of a climate-controlled storage facility."
And other real estate related items.
An article today from the St. Thomas Source:
Nov. 5, 2007 -- Think outside the bin, urged Bermuda resident Allen Hunt at Monday's opening reception of the 13th annual ReCaribe 2007, a wider Caribbean waste-management conference running through Thursday at the V.I. Environmental Resource Station on St. John.
"If we don't, we're going to be stuck in the bin," he said at Monday's opening reception, held at Concordia Eco-tents and Condominiums pavilion.
Hunt, who serves as president of the Clean Islands International board of directors, has long worked in the waste-management field. Clean Islands manages VIERS for the University of the Virgin Islands.
The event brings together 42 people from 16 Caribbean countries, the U.S. mainland and Canada. Most are waste-management professionals.
The St. Thomas Source is reporting:
"Oct. 11, 2007 -- The Enighed Pond Marine Facility on St. John and Crown Bay Marine Terminal on St. Thomas will soon have new names thanks to the Legislature. Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed a Senate bill Wednesday naming the St. John facility after the late Theovald Eric Moorehead. The bill also names the Crown Bay Marine Terminal after Austin "Babe" Monsanto.
"Both gentlemen have made significant contributions in their respective professions to their communities and are deserving of such recognition," the governor said in a statement Wednesday.
Interesting article with some nice history.
Lots of interesting stuff in this article from CaribbeanNetNews:
ST THOMAS, USVI: Governor John deJongh Jr. and Lt. Governor Gregory Francis, along with Tax Assessor Roy Martin and other US Virgin Island government officials, met behind closed doors with members of the Legislature on September 27, to review the current status of real property taxation in the Territory and to outline the Administration’s proposals.
While the public learned about the scheduled meeting as a result of a routine announcement from the Senate Floor, no members of the news media or other interested parties were permitted to attend the meeting. This was an unpopular choice on the part of Government House because no reason was given for the closed meeting, and many local residents, recently stunned by the increases reflected by their new tax bills were eager for any word of a possible remedy.
Tough story on the proposed UVI Tech Park on St. Croix out today in the VI Daily News - it pulls no punches exposing the fact that nothing has happened for nearly 6 years with 13 million dollars spent:
"The Virgin Islands is chasing an unrealistic Silicon Valley fantasy and sacrificing practical economic development at the expense of taxpayers.
Since 2002, the territory has allocated at least $13 million on the gamble that the University of the Virgin Islands' Research and Technology Park will attract high-tech companies to move to the islands.
Much like the expensive promises that left St. Croix with the near-vacant Rohlsen Airport and the unused Ann Abramson cruise ship pier, the assumptions that drive the Tech Park are based on miscalculations and unrealistic expectations.
Good news for the territory from The Source today:
Aug. 1, 2007 -- Residents are getting a unique opportunity to save money on utility bills while selling power back to the V.I. Water and Power Authority with an innovative metering program, which puts the territory on the cutting edge of new power policies.
The territory joins about 40 states and the District of Columbia, which have approved the program. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, mainland public utilities are required to offer net metering on request to customers before the end of the decade.
On Wednesday the utility launched its net-metering program, which will allow consumers to offset the cost of electricity they buy from WAPA by selling excess power they generate through individual solar or wind systems back to the utility.
Illegal immigration is a real problem in the territory - and it looks like the feds are not ready to give the islands any more help:
(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Virgin Islands have long been known as a convenient Caribbean paradise, boasting sandy beaches, palm trees and sunshine -- and no passport requirement for American citizens.
But that convenience is also making the Virgin Islands a conduit through which illegal immigrants, and possibly terrorists, are finding their way onto U.S. soil, according to law enforcement and government officials.
"It's a good way to enter the United States," said former Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent Mike Cutler. "If you can get yourself to the Virgin Islands, you're in the United States ... the likelihood is no one is going to even look at you, you just show a driver's license, get on the airplane, and you're on the way."
At one point, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) are separated from the British Virgin Islands by just four miles of open water. It's also one of the busiest cruise ship destinations in the world. Yet U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has told USVI officials not to expect any additional help anytime soon.
The rest of that article is here. We know an ICE agent and he personally talked about how under staffed and under funded they were. It seems the government just won't take these issues seriously enough for some reason.
A couple of days behind on this story, but here it is from the St. Thomas Source:
June 21, 2007 -- Citing various environmental and ecological concerns, members of the Coastal Zone Management Committee voted unanimously earlier this week to deny plans for the construction of a high-end housing community on Great St. James Island.
Detailed within a lengthy CZM permit application, the plans included the building of 53 individual home units, priced at about $750,000 apiece. The documents state that the proposed project would have spanned approximately 163 acres, with each house sitting on three acres of land.
From the St. Thomas Source:
June 12, 2007 -- The U.S. Senate overcame a months-old parliamentary hurdle and passed, on unanimous consent, a bill sponsored by Delegate Donna M. Christensen that repeals a 1936 federal law limiting the authority of the V.I. government to administer its own property-tax system, according to a Government House news release.
The bill, which passed the House of Representatives last January, now goes to the president for his signature.
The bill had been held up by a U.S. senator who had put a “legislative hold” on all bills reported by the Senate Energy Committee, including the V.I. property-tax bill, the news release said. The senator agreed to release his hold on the bill after the Senate leadership agreed to separate the V.I. bill from the other Senate Energy Committee bills that prompted the hold, the release said.
Story about Stephen Brusch from the VI Daily News:
ST. THOMAS - Stephen Brusch, one of the Virgin Islands' most prominent and successful attorneys, has been suspended from practicing law in the Virgin Islands and faces possible disbarment.
A V.I. Supreme Court panel ruled Friday that Brusch's violations of the V.I. Bar Association's rules of conduct in at least two cases - and the likelihood of similar violations in several other cases pending before the Bar's Ethics and Grievance Committee - warrant an interim suspension.
Brusch, a former federal court public defender, has been at the forefront of some of the most high-profile criminal cases in the Virgin Islands. In the past year, he has defended Ashley Andrews in the Global Resources Management corruption case; Joel Dowdye, a police detective who killed his ex-girlfriend; and Jamal Hart, one of two brothers arrested on suspicion of killing two tourists, a crime that made national headlines.
Some more bad news from the Virgin Islands, courtesy of the St. Thomas Source:
June 7, 2007 -- The Department of Property and Procurement bungled $9 million in taxpayers' money from 2000 to 2005, according to a new federal audit.
As a landlord, the V.I. government's primary property-management agency failed to collect some $3 million rent -- letting renters go more than a decade without paying.
As a renter, the Virgin Islands has been less than shrewd, spending $3 million renting land it could have bought for $4.2 million, said the audit from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of the Inspector General.
"In effect, both as a landlord and a procurer of private space for government agencies, DP&P has not acted in the best interest of the government of the Virgin Islands," wrote the report's author, Michael P. Colombo, the Department of the Interior's regional audit manager.
Unfortunately the VI has a penchant for corruption and waste, especially with public money. The citizens of the territory need to get involved and demand more from the local government going forward to ensure this kind of stuff stops happening.
I really don't understand this article, "Time for rental reforms in the Caribbean":
"The most restrictive is the US Virgin Islands. Rents are frozen at their 1947 level. For housing accommodations, the maximum rent ceiling is the rent in force and in effect on July 1, 1947. For buildings created and/or rented after July 1, 1947, the maximum rent allowed is the first rent charged for the unit."
Is this actually true (in a legal sense - I know it is not being enforced)? Does this refer to some arcane statute? When I lived on St. Thomas people seemed to charge whatever they wanted for rent, and rents were rising all the time.
The highly accomplished Wanda Mills-Bocachica, Ph.D., has been hired as the new director of the Comprehensive and Coastal Zone Planning Division, according to a news release from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (via the St. Thomas Source).
There is a very positive news flow coming from the new administration in the USVI.
"The man who runs the troubled V.I. Housing Authority made almost half a million dollars in his first year on the job - a paycheck that exceeded those of the governor of the Virgin Islands and the president of the United States.
Michael Hollis, a private-sector Atlanta attorney who landed a no-bid contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be executive administrator of the V.I. Housing Authority, also has a generous expense allowance at his disposal.
Fifteen months after The Daily News made a request under the federal Freedom of Information Act for a copy of Hollis' contract with HUD, the federal agency released the document this month.
The no-bid, six-month contract called for Hollis to receive $225,600 for running the day-to-day operations of the local Housing Authority from Feb. 1 to July 31, 2006. HUD renewed the contract, again without soliciting bids, giving Hollis another six months on the job and another $225,600 - for a total of $451,200 during that 12-month period.
Ray Fonseca, who held the top spot at the Housing Authority in the months before HUD seized control of the agency from the local government in August 2003, had a contract that carried a $105,000 annual salary, he said."
From the VI Daily News.
The quality (or sadly the lack thereof) of public education is an important piece of the puzzle for those who live or are thinking about moving to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Stories like this don't help:
May 22, 2007 -- An altercation between two V.I. Board of Education members has spurred ongoing discussion in the community, along with a series of statements and apologies issued by the organization's chairwoman.
In the latest twist in the saga, one public official has called for greater action, asking the board members to resign their posts.
In a news release issued earlier this week, Sen. Liston Davis requested that Terrence D. Joseph and Shawn Gibson, both involved in an altercation at a meeting held earlier this month, resign because of their "recent unsavory, unacceptable and egregiously negative" conduct.
More here from the St. Thomas Source. Here is hoping that the new governor can start to reverse the situation of VI public schools.
From the St. Thomas Source:
"May 14, 2007 -- Two top financial jobs in the territory came closer to getting filled Monday when Gov. John P. deJongh Jr. announced the selection of Claudette J. Watson-Anderson, CPA, as commissioner of Finance and Debra Gottlieb as budget director, pending approval from the Legislature.
The governor also named Austin Nibbs as executive assistant finance commissioner, an appointment that does not require Senate approval.
"Having previously worked in both the private and public sectors, Watson-Anderson brings solid and exemplary experience to the administration," said a Government House news release. "She has spent the last 25 years in senior and managing accountancy positions, and was recently the Legislative post auditor for the 26th and 27th Legislatures, where she routinely offered technical and advanced understandings of financial data and accountancy bills, proposals and other analyses."
There is a story today in the VI Daily News about the bogus sewer system in St. Croix. I was living on St. Thomas when this happened. It is good to see these people held accountable:
"Cases of defendants charged with crimes connected to their involvement with Global Resources Management - a start-up company that obtained a $3.6 million no-bid contract to repair St. Croix's failing sewer system, a company later revealed to be a sham upon taxpayers - have been winding through the District Court this week.
Global Resources executives took advantage of well-placed government contacts to receive the contract for the sewer work, mandated by a long-standing federal consent decree. They then misrepresented personal and company finances to qualify for the project.
Andrews, the Global Resources' founder and president, and Malone, its accountant, were convicted in their September retrial on St. Thomas of attempting to defraud the V.I. government through the short-lived company. In that trial, the jury deadlocked on a conflict of interest charge against Hansen, who stood trial for the first time as a co-defendant.
Hansen was charged with awarding Global Resources a $25,000 legislative consulting contract while her husband, Esdel Hansen, was a company employee. Days after the Senate paid Global Resources at Hansen's request - despite no tangible work done to fulfill the contract - Andrews sent the senator a $1,000 contribution for her gubernatorial campaign, prosecutors argued at trial."
The whole thing is here.
Here is something people relocating to the Virgin Islands should know -
"On May 10, the 3rd circuit ruled that U.S. citizens living in the Virgin Islands may not vote for president. Ballentine v U.S.A, no. 06-4800. The irony is that U.S. citizens who move permanently to a foreign country may continue to vote absentee, forever. They retain their registration in the last state in the U.S. in which they lived. But should they then move to a U.S. territorial possessions, they lose that absentee vote. The 3rd circuit did not write its own opinion; it just it agrees with the U.S. District Court ruling."
WASHINGTON – The former director of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) Division of Environmental Protection has been sentenced to four years in prison for conspiring to defraud the Virgin Islands government of approximately $1.4 million, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Jenkins of the District of the Virgin Islands announced today.
Full article below the fold.
(PressZoom) - WASHINGTON – The former director of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources ( DPNR ) Division of Environmental Protection has been sentenced to four years in prison for conspiring to defraud the Virgin Islands government of approximately $1.4 million, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Jenkins of the District of the Virgin Islands announced today.
U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper sentenced Hollis L. Griffin, 43, to four years in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution. The defendant previously pleaded guilty in Atlanta on Sept. 26, 2006. Griffin was charged in the District of the Virgin Islands on June 21, 2006, along with former Virgin Islands Fire Service employee Earl E. Brewley and Esmond J. Modeste, the purported project manager of a fictitious company by the name of Elite Technical Services ( Elite ), with engaging in an elaborate bribery and kickback scheme to defraud the territorial government of approximately $1.4 million in federal and local funds. Brewley and Modeste pleaded guilty to the charges before U.S. District Judge Curtis V. Gomez on July 12, 2006. They are scheduled to be sentenced on May 11, 2007. At Griffin’s request, the case against him was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta for purposes of entering a guilty plea and sentencing.
According to court documents, in early 2000, Griffin, Brewley, Modeste and others formed Elite and then used the fictitious company, as well as other companies, to seek and be awarded at least seven government contracts valued at approximately $1.4 million. Although little or no actual work was performed on the contracts—which were awarded by DPNR and the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement ( DP&P ) on behalf of DPNR and the Virgin Islands Fire Service—payments totaling over $1.1 million were made to Elite and the other companies. Once the contract proceeds were paid to Elite and the other companies, Brewley, Modeste and others paid bribes and kickbacks totaling between $300,000 and $350,000 to at least four territorial government officials including Griffin.
Griffin, like Brewley and Modeste, pleaded guilty to engaging in a five-year conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, honest services mail fraud, and structuring currency transactions, all in violation of federal law. Many of the contracts at issue were funded with federal monies, and both the DPNR and the Fire Service received annual appropriations of federal funds with which to fund such programs and contract awards. A series of $9,900 cash withdrawals—totaling over $350,000—were allegedly made by Brewley, Modeste and others after depositing certain contract proceeds into FirstBank, Wachovia, and Banco Popular. Like Brewley and Modeste, Griffin admitted that these cash withdrawals were made in order to pay the bribes and kickbacks in cash, and avoid the filing of currency transaction reports by the local banks.
This case is being prosecuted by Armando O. Bonilla and John P. Pearson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The task force investigating this case comprises agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Treasury Department/Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of the Inspector General. The Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General also assisted in this investigation.
Christensen tried this on Turnbull's watch - she is trying it again:
WASHINGTON, USA: USVI Delegate to Congress Donna M. Christensen re-introduced legislation this week that would create the office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the Virgin Islands government. The bill which passed the US House of Representatives in the 108th and 109th Congresses was re-introduced with changes to reflect the current realities in the territory.
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) – Decades of government mismanagement has left the U.S. Virgin Islands mired in red ink, Gov. John deJongh Jr. told a civic group Saturday.
DeJongh, a financial adviser to Caribbean governments and businesses before he became the three–island U.S. territory’s top official in January, said a thorough fiscal review has found that accumulated debt has reached nearly US$3 billion much more than he had anticipated.
"As bad as I imagined the situation to be, what ... I found is far worse. Successive administrations have built a mountain of debt on a house of cards," deJongh told the islands’ League of Women Voters.
DeJongh, who replaced two–term governor Charles Turnbull, said cumulative debt was at unsustainable levels due to years of issuing bond packages to help pay annual operating costs. He accused previous administrations of consistently overlooking the government’s long–term budget outlook.
"For years we’ve accumulated mountains of back pay to our government workers. All the while the government and the workers lived with the fiction that it would all be paid someday and somehow," deJongh said.
DeJongh said fixing the territory’s poor fiscal health had to be given priority and that his administration would not allow unfunded liabilities to compound further.
From a news release:
"A robust market for luxury properties does not guarantee overnight success for sellers of million dollar homes however. The number of homes priced at over 1 million or more in the United States is approaching 500,000. With the highest concentration of luxury real estate found in Massachusetts, Florida, U. S. Virgin Islands, and California."
Is that true? The Virgin Islands are so small, physically - does the "concentration" in the above mean percentage of or actual number of?
From an article in The Herald Tribune:
"Caribbean nation-states, the Virgin Islands and parts of Central America -- think Costa Rica and Belize -- are undergoing staggering growth, fueled largely by high-end, coastal developments catering to wealthy Americans."
Interesting tid bit in the NY Post (not a rag I have much confidence in personally):
"May 1, 2006 -- Andrew Cuomo, the front-runner in the state attorney general's race, works for a little-known real-estate banking firm - and his decision to keep coy about some of its investors has his rivals raising questions. The firm, Island Capital Group, is Cuomo's main source of income.
A major Island project is Yacht Haven Grande, off St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.
Other projects, according to Island Capital's Web site, include a partnership with Dubai to manage all of that country's marinas and create a home-mortgage system there.
Cuomo initially told The Post that Island has a small number of investors besides founder Andrew Farkas, but said he did not know who they were.
Later, after speaking to Farkas, Cuomo aides said Farkas and another official are the only partners.
But they didn't provide the names of investors in Island Global Yachting, which Island Capital formed to develop many marina projects.
Cuomo's job description is unclear. Last week, he repeatedly described himself as an "employee" and said he had no title.
Mark Benoit, spokesman for Cuomo rival Mark Green, said Cuomo's father, Mario, "set the standard" when he was elected for demanding full disclosure and it's "disappointing . . . that Andrew Cuomo doesn't share that principle."
Cuomo said he'll make his finances public when he is formally a candidate. Aides said he'll leave Island this month."
This is a press release, so take it with a grain of salt. It sounds a little alarmist to me:
To: National and Business Desks, Political Reporter
Contact: Lucien Salvant of the National Association of Realtors(r), 202-383-1176 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 28 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Home prices, particularly in high cost areas, could decline 15 percent if President Bush's tax reform panel's expected recommendation to convert the mortgage interest deduction (MID) to a tax credit gets implemented, said Al Mansell, president of the National Association of Realtors(r) (NAR).
Speaking at the opening session of the 2005 REALTORS(r) Conference & Expo here, Mansell said that if the MID were changed, the typical homeowner could lose $20,000 to $30,000 in housing equity.
"Housing is the engine that drives this economy and to even mention reducing the tax benefits of homeownership could endanger property values. The tax deductibility of interest paid on mortgages is both a powerful incentive for homeownership and one of the simplest provisions in the tax code. It should not be targeted for change," Mansell said. "NAR will continue to tell Congress that Realtors(r) strongly oppose any attempts to alter the current tax treatment of mortgage interest."
Eliminating the mortgage interest deduction would hurt middle-income families the most, he said. According to IRS tax return data from 2003, 52 percent of the families who claim the mortgage interest deduction have household incomes between $60,000 and $200,000.
From the VI Daily News:
V.I. government officials will testify today before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on legislation to repeal a 1936 federal statute that prohibits the territory from setting its own real property tax policy.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards and Tax Assessor Roy Martin are expected to begin testimony at 10 a.m. The hearing will be webcast live at www.energy.senate.gov.
In 2003, U.S. District Court ruled that the method the V.I. Tax Assessor's Office used to calculate property taxes was unfair and violated federal law and ordered the government to reassess all real property in the territory. A complaint against the government was brought by 11 plaintiffs whose commercial properties assessments were based on estimated replacement costs, not the estimated actual value.
The court ruling is based on the 1936 federal statute that imposed severe restrictions on the local government regarding property taxes.
Without the repeal, the V.I. property revaluation could result in a significant increase in residential property taxes, Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen said in a prepared statement released Monday.
According to Richards, the ruling prevents the offering of homestead, veterans, agriculture and all other property tax exemptions. It also struck down a local law that provided that no residential tax bill can increase more than 10 percent over the previous valuations.
"It ties the hands of the government of the Virgin Islands with respect to property taxes," Richards said Monday. "This has become an increasing concern for local property owners, especially on the island of St. John," where property values have skyrocketed in the last several years.
In mid-July, data collectors began visiting estates on St. Croix and St. Thomas. Data collectors must visit every property in the Virgin Islands - some 50,000 residences, which will include condominiums and timeshares.
Commercial property assessments were completed in May, and impact notices were issued in June. About 2,100 commercial properties in the territory were assessed.
The largest increases were: Cruz Bay, central, 297 percent; Cruz Bay, outlying, 266 percent; Coral Bay, 36 percent; general commercial, 56 percent, on St. John; and Red Hook, 58 percent, and Tutu, 33 percent, on St. Thomas.
Tax Assessor's Office representatives have said that only after a detailed analysis of real estate sales between 2002 and 2005 could tax assessors be able to determine how new homes will affect property values.
For more information about the property revaluation project, visit www.vipropertyrevaluation.com.
This company does a lot of mortgage business in the Virgin Islands, from the AP:
OCT. 3 12:47 P.M. ET The already scandal-plagued Puerto Rican financial services industry was rocked further Monday after First BanCorp said both its chief executive and chief financial officer stepped down amid an accounting investigation.
The company -- which operates about 40 branches in Puerto Rico and a dozen in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands -- said Angel Alvarez Perez resigned as CEO, and will retire as chairman at the end of the year. Additionally, the company said that Annie Astor-Carbonell resigned as CFO, and will leave on Oct. 31.
The management shuffle follows similar moves taken by Puerto Rico-based mortgage banker Doral Financial Corp. and R&G Financial Corp. The Securities and Exchange Commission is examining accounting practices at all three financial firms, who also continue to share PricewaterhouseCoopers as their accountant.
Click here for the rest.
From the VI Daily News:
Allowing the GERS board to invest in bonds rated BBB or better. The bill also would allow more investment in real estate and alternative investments.
Is this a good idea? Clicke here for the rest of the article.
From the NY Times today:
On Vladi Private Islands the 230-acre undeveloped Thatch Cay in the United States Virgin Islands is selling for $18.6 million and the undeveloped six-acre Red Rock Island, promoted as "the only privately owned island in San Francisco Bay," for $6.5 million.
The Ginn Company is the new owner of Mahogany Run Golf Course -
CELEBRATION, FL, Ginn Clubs & Resorts, one of the largest private developers in the South, announced that Darrin Pinkham CHTP has joined the company as of Vice President, Application Systems. Pinkham will report to Steve Heselius, VP/CTO, who is responsible for all aspects of network infrastructure, security, standards/compliance, and corporate technology strategies. In the newly created position, Pinkham will be responsible for all business and hospitality applications used by the company’s communities and developments.
Prior to joining Ginn Clubs & Resorts, Pinkham served as Chief Technology officer for Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando, which included Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort, and Lakewood Regional central support facility. Pinkham has also worked for Boca Resorts, Hershey Resorts, and Inter Continental Hotels & Resorts in technology and finance management related positions.
“Information technology is an important component of our growth strategy in hospitality.” said Heselius. He continued “Darrin will provide the tactical leadership we need to install, operate and maintain a leadership position in the usage of technology within the hospitality space. His expertise will allow us to accelerate our use of technology to enhance guest satisfaction, operations and profitability.”
Pinkham is a certified hospitality technology professional (CHTP) from the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). He also serves on the HITEC Advisory and CHTP Advisory Councils, and previously served as an International Board of Director for HFTP.
From Yahoo Business:
Receiving the Realtor Achievement Award for this year is Summer Greene, a member of the Realtor Association of Greater Fort Lauderdale. This award reflects the previous three years' contributions to the community, local, state and national Realtor associations. Consider just some of her community achievements. Since 2001, Greene has served as the director for the Reliance Housing Corporation, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing in the U.S. and Virgin Islands. She is an active supporter of Homeless to Homebuyer, which educates low-income families on how to qualify for city and county grants to purchase homes, and of Habitat for Humanity Hospice. She has chaired and served on dozens of committees for both the local, national and state associations, including as FAR's 2005 Strategic Visioning Committee Chair and as District 11 Vice President in 2001. An RPAC Sterling R member, Greene also teaches Graduate Realtor Institute courses.
From the Daily News:
Sixty acres of government land on Water Island can now be used to build homes through the V.I. Housing Finance Authority.
Gov. Charles Turnbull, on Friday, signed into law a bill that transfers 30 percent of 200 acres of real property on Water Island to HFA. The U.S. Interior Department granted the property to the Virgin Islands government in May.
When the bill came before the Senate Committee on Housing, Sports and Veterans Affairs in June, HFA Executive Director Clifford Graham said that the homes to be built on Water Island would be for the upper level of people who qualify for housing assistance - with an annual household income of up to $130,725. The homes, Graham estimated, could be 1,600 square feet and larger.
According to the bill, the governor must conduct a land-use study of the 200 acres and develop a land-use plan. The legislation also appropriates $75,000 from any available funds in the government's treasury in this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, for the study.
So GERS is broke but the can find $5 million for a new building? From the Daily News:
ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Government Employee's Retirement System expects construction of its $4.9 million headquarters on St. Croix to begin soon.
GERS board of trustees signed the contract with St. Croix-based Best Construction Inc. on Aug. 1 after confirming that the company received an insurance bond on the project, trustee Raymond James said at the agency's monthly meeting on St. John on Thursday.
Trustees did not say specifically when the work will begin.
The two-story, 6,000-square-foot building will be in Orange Grove, Christiansted.
The project is expected to create 100 construction jobs and is scheduled for completion in 2006.
GERS officials have said the facility will better suit the needs of GERS's members, retirees and beneficiaries on St. Croix because it is larger and will give the staff easier access to records now stored on St. Thomas.
The new facility, which will be behind GERS's current location adjacent to the Casino Control Commission office, will be easily accessible by disabled people.
GERS officials expect to make money on the new facility by increasing the value of the agency's real estate portfolio and revenues from renters. It plans to rent out its current location and some of the space in the new facility, which will include a day-care center and a teleconference center.
This story sounds dangerous. When you start having these kind of shortfalls in a system where the total population is as small as it is, where is all that money supposed to come from? I am afraid for the future of people who have put all their eggs in the GERS basket. The relevant part of the story as it pertains to real estate:
Allowing the GERS board to invest in bonds rated BBB or better. Currently the system can only invest in AAA bonds. The bill also would allow more investment in real estate and alternative investments.
From the Washington Post:
The latest case, handed down Aug. 4 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ( Santiago v. GMAC Mortgage Group Inc. ), involved a class-action suit against GMAC, one of the country's highest-volume home lenders. A GMAC Mortgage customer alleged that the company marked up various fees in connection with the closing of his loan, and thereby violated HUD's ban. Citing earlier federal appellate court rulings that HUD lacked statutory authority to ban markups, GMAC asked the district court to throw out the suit. It did. The home buyers then took the case to the appellate level, where HUD's position on markups was affirmed. The 3rd Circuit covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
From the Daily News:
ST. CROIX - Gov. Charles Turnbull on Saturday approved bills to establish a summer education program and increase participation in a home ownership program but vetoed a series of zoning changes for one St. Croix neighborhood.
That veto came on zoning changes proposed for Estate Strawberry Hill, which would have shifted from low-density residential to a scattered business area. Various businesses had planned to set up shop in the area, including a laundry, a day-care center, a real estate office and a doctor's office.
Turnbull shot down the measure for what he said was a concern about storm-water runoff.
From the Daily News:
ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Senate unanimously approved legislation Thursday to amend local laws to establish an upper income limit allowing blue-collar workers to participate in the V.I. Housing Finance Authority's Home and Land Ownership Program.
The bill increases the maximum household income for program participants to 3Ă? times the median personal income in the island district where the participants live. This would increase eligibility to people with a household income of $130,725 in the St. Thomas-St. John District and a household income of $104,650 on St. Croix.
The program, which was created in 1981 by the Legislature, presents affordable home ownership opportunities to low to moderate income families in the form of low-interest loans. As the program currently operates, people with household incomes ranging from $18,000 to 2Ă? times the median personal income in their district are eligible.
According to the Housing Finance Authority statistics, the median income for a person in the St. Thomas-St. John District is $37,350 and the median income for a person in the St. Croix district is $29,900. The maximum household income for people currently participating in the program in the St. Thomas-St. John district is $93,375 and the maximum household income for people in St. Croix is $74,750.
ST. THOMAS - Gov. Charles Turnbull on Saturday signed into law legislation that will revamp the territory's banking systems and increase penalties for school vandalism.
The Financial Services Bill of 2005 updates V.I. banking laws to allow local banks to issue credit cards and expand the territory's financial services activity. The legislation also allows local banks to enter into other financial services markets such as securities, insurance and real estate.
Exemptions to interest rate caps on variable rate loans less than $100,000, including home equity and business loans, is also allowed by the legislation.
There is a lot of interesting stuff in this year in review article in the Daily News, much of it regarding or mentioning various real estate deals.
Correction: The St. Thomas Annual General Meeting is being held on Tuesday October 26th, and not Monday October 25th as previously stated. The Videoconference however is on Monday October 25th.
The St. Thomas Board of Realtors cordially invites all members and Affiliates to their Annual General Membership Meeting on October 25th, 2004 at the Palms Court Harbor View. The meeting begins with a full Breakfast at 8:30am the general session begins at 9:00am. Attached is the Program and RSVP, please fax your response to Jeyan Stout at Stout Realty. (fax)777-8784
St Thomas Board of REALTORS®
3009 Orange Grove Shopping Center, Suite 13
Christiansted, VI. 00820-4313
Annual General Meeting
Place: The Palms Court Harbor View
Date: Tuesday October 26th, 2004
Time: 8:30 am- Full Breakfast 9:00am-Meeting
Land Use and Water Plan for the VI: Bill # _________
Panel Local Professionals
The National Association of Realtors’ Consultant
Mr. Brian Blaesser
Will present his power point presentation of the present Land Use Bill that is before our Senate.
Those that will be joining us will be the Governor, the Lt. Governor, or their top assistants, if both the Gov and Lt Gov are in Washington with meetings on the EDC program. Their top aides will be joining us if that happens. Hopefully Commissioner Plaskett and his Committee will also join us.
The Senators will be joining us. Hopefully we will have the members of the St. John Realtor community joining us and maybe some of our St. Croix Realtors will jump the pond to have breakfast with us.
This will be a discussion of the pros and cons of this Land Use and Water Use plan/Development Bill: The appraisers, architects, surveyors, Attys, title companies will be represented at this meeting and it will be educational and informative!! The media will be fully represented even the St. John newspaper will be sending someone! Plus tv coverage!
We will have the vote by ballot for the 2005 Board of Directors and the changes of the STT By-Laws, so please do come. If you thought our March meeting was good this will be more than exciting and informational.
RSVP to Coldwell Banker Stout Realty at (fax) 777-8784 or email Becky@stoutrealty.com RSVP by THURSDAY, OCT 21ST. 12NOON
Will attend: ______ unable to attend: ______ No Charge for Breakfast
Name: ___________________________& ___________________________
Please Print RE Company or Affiliate Member
Board Affiliation: St. Thomas____; St. John ____; St. Croix _____ Pls Check
By TANYA MANNES
Wednesday, October 6th 2004
ST. JOHN - Sen. Usie Richards, the sponsor of the latest draft of a proposed V.I. Land and Water Use Plan, defended the plan Tuesday against charges that it is being rushed through the legislative process.
More than 40 residents attended the fifth and final town meeting - the only one on St. John - on the plan and raised concerns about its impact, particularly on Coral Bay.
Responding to concerns raised at the four earlier town meetings, Richards described the 18-month governmental process that led up to his introducing the revised legislation five months ago.
The previous document, developed with extensive public input in the early 1990s, was dusted off, revised with new data, shared with the executive branch, and reviewed by legal counsel before it could be assigned to a committee, Richards said.
Lawmakers decided to hold public hearings, further lengthening the process, he said.
"We have done all that we can to provide an opportunity for public participation in this process," Richards said.
By TANYA MANNES
Friday, October 1st 2004
ST. THOMAS - Real estate agents on St. Thomas and others raised the alarm Thursday about whether a proposed V.I. Land and Water Use Plan would make it harder for "average Joes" to afford houses.
By requiring larger lot sizes, the plan could raise home prices, real estate broker Nick Bailey said.
Bailey spoke at a town meeting held by the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee to discuss the bill, which would revamp the territory's development law. This is the latest draft of a proposal to set zoning and other land-use regulations to create a blueprint for development instead of the fragmented laws and regulations currently in use.
Bailey said the plan should be studied for its effect on property values, property taxes and the economy. He urged lawmakers to table the bill until after the election.
"We can do better than this plan," Bailey said.
But Committee Chairman Sen. Louis Hill said the land use plan, which has been discussed, researched and revised since 1970, would not be pushed aside. The Virgin Islands is long overdue in developing a plan for "smart growth," he said.
"We're not going to table this bill," Hill said. "As imperfect as it may be, it's here and it's on the table. We're going to keep working on it until it is perfect, but we won't take it off the table."
Attorney Maria Hodge said another flaw is that the plan would limit homeowners from renting out small apartments on the property to help pay the mortgage. As it stands, the legislation would require a major permit - an expensive and time-consuming process - in order to add more than one living unit to a single-family lot.
Hill said, "If the plan has issues that would limit Virgin Islanders' ability to own land - clearly, that is not our intent."
Jeyan Stout, president of the St. Thomas Board of Realtors, said that revising the bill is not enough. She said the plan should be rewritten to address the unique needs of each island.
To All Board Members & Affiliates:
The VITAR Annual General Meeting will be held on October 30th, 2004 at the Westin Resorts & Villas St. John at 12.00pm.
To members who would like to stay for the weekend, the Westin has offered VITAR members a group rate of $129.00 per night plus 8% tax and $18.00 per day Resort service fee standard. If you plan to stay for the weekend or over night please contact the Board’s Office and requests a registration form.
Board Members who have not taken the Code of Ethics course as yet will have the opportunity to do so on October 30th, 2004 at 9:00am at the Westin Resort & Villas St. John. Attached is an attendance form, please full it out and fax it back to the Board’s office on or before October 25th, 2004 if you plan to attend. 773-6305.
NEW YORK - "Territory folks should stick together."
The theme of that refrain from the classic musical "Oklahoma" could be key to solving some of the issues pertinent to the Virgin Islands that were broached at the Republican National Convention's preliminary sessions in Manhattan.
April Newland, a St. Thomas resident and delegate to the Platform Committee, presented four amendments to the Republican Party's official platform.
ST. THOMAS - Before a legislative chamber packed with St. Thomas and Water Island residents, the Department of Planning and Natural Resources outlined its proposal to overhaul the territory's zoning laws.
The plan, which would scrap the spot zoning process, would replace the 18 zoning districts set out in the law with seven land use and five water use categories.
At a hearing Tuesday night, senators and DPNR officials said the new proposal, known as the Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan, would streamline the zoning process while ensuring that development does not run amok.
The Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee will hear a presentation Wednesday on St. Croix on a new draft of the Virgin Islands Comprehensive Land and Water Use Plan.
The plan, which has been discussed as a concept since the 1980s but never approved as law, would set zoning and other land use regulations throughout the territory, creating a blueprint for development instead of the fragmented laws and regulations currently in use.
"We need a plan for the appropriate management of the development of the entire territory of the Virgin Islands," Sen. Usie Richards, who is proposing the legislation, said Monday.
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ST. THOMAS - The Senate Housing, Parks and Recreation Committee has approved a bill that seeks to build 2,500 affordable homes territorywide during five years.
The Homeownership Act of 2004 would allow developers to use government-owned land to build a range of residential units from condominiums to single-family homes.
"The legislation will provide work, will provide homes and hopefully a better society," said Sen. Emmett Hansen, the committee's chairman.
The Housing Finance Authority would oversee the program, conveying for free government-owned land to developers, who then would build the homes.
by Blanche Evans
The U.S. Virgin Islands are experiencing a real estate boom, report local Realtors, due largely to still-reasonable prices.
(Editors note: not sure I agree with the reason given above!)
The VITAR general meeting scheduled for Saturday June 5, 2004 has been rescheduled for Saturday June 26, 2004. Please make note of the new date on your calendar.
To contact the association:
Virgin Island Territorial Association of REALTORS
3009 Orange Grove Shopping Center Suite 13
Christiansted, St. Croix. USVI. 00820-4312
Phone: 340-773-1855 Fax: 340-773-6305
To all VITAR Board Members & Affiliates:
The VITAR General meeting Scheduled for April 21, 2004 has been rescheduled for June 5, 2004. Please make note of the new scheduled date.