Sen. Myron Jackson

Senate President Myron Jackson presides over Friday’s legislative session on St. Thomas.

ST. THOMAS — V.I. lawmakers have greenlit the completion of a gas station and laundry on a St. John property that many nearby residents claim is not suitable or even zoned for such developments.

On Friday, during a legislative session on St. Thomas, senators voted in favor of granting use variances to the Estate Adrian property, allowing for the construction of a gas station, a laundry and a 200-seat restaurant.

Opponents of the developments have insisted the parcel of land is in a R-1 Residential Zone and that proper contamination, explosion and waste water studies have not taken place.

Moreover, they claim, the property was only granted a variance back in 2005 for a small grocery store and some office space.

Added to the mix is the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, which has admitted to approving the plans for the gas station in error, only to discover its mistake in 2017.

While Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dawn Henry attempted to stop the construction and informed senators that she was against the gas station, lawmakers insisted her department’s “error” has already forced the property’s lease-holder to invest millions in the project.

Lawmakers were also informed by the station’s advocates — during a Committee of the Whole session on St. John this week — that health and safety measures are being implemented.

The name of the individual applying for the variance has not been released by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

The property, however, is owned by Sen. Brian Smith, who recused himself from Friday’s vote

The other 14 senators voted unanimously in favor of the use variances.

Bills passed

On Friday, senators voted and approved the following:

Bill 32-0256 — a bill enacting the Finance Lenders Law.

Bill 32-0310 — a bill granting the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation, the authority to license authorized delegates to establish requirements for alien companies seeking to conduct businesses and for other related purposes.

Bill 32-0248 — a bill enacting “The Actuarial Opinion and Memorandum Act” to meet the accreditation standards established by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and to provide for greater and more effective protection to the policyholders of the territory.

Bill 32-0309 — a bill to update the insurance laws of the territory, placing them on par with other United States jurisdictions to more effectively protect the policyholders of the territory.

Bill 32-0230 — a bill to limit employers’ use of criminal records in hiring and other employment practices.

Bill 32-0220 — a bill to extend the ban on plastic bag to include disposable, plastic drinking straws, and to allow the sale of reusable drinking straws.

Lawmakers also voted to override two vetoes, including Bill 32-0244, relating to the practice of optometry; and Bill 32-0245, which exempts urgent care facilities from requiring a certificate of need.

— Contact A.J. Rao at 340-714-9104 or email ajrao@dailynews.vi.

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