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Tamarind Resort Assocs. v. Government of the Virgin Islands

ELR Citation: 28 ELR 21010
Nos. 97-7020, 138 F.3d 107/(3d Cir., 03/09/1998)

The court affirms that the denial of a Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) permit did not breach a contract between a developer and the government of the Virgin Islands allowing for the development of an island off the coast of St. Thomas. The court first holds that the agreement unambiguously grants the developer the right to use the island for commercial purposes but does not grant the developer unlimited discretion to develop the island for that use. The government only agreed to issue necessary permits for development if the proposed development was consistent with the public interest. The court further holds that the government's application of the CZMA to the developer does not impair any of the developer's contractual rights. Because the agreement does not speak to a maximum limitation on development and does not explicitly or implicitly grant the right of unlimited development, the government was at liberty to restrict the development by applying the CZMA to the developer.

The court next holds that the district court erred in reviewing the developer's constitutional claims under its former administrative writ of review jurisdiction. The Virgin Islands' Legislature implicitly repealed the general Virgin Islands' provision that established writs of review as civil actions to the extent that provision confers writ of review jurisdiction upon the district court over local matters. Similarly, CZMA §913(d) is invalid as it applies to the district court's former writ of review jurisdiction. Because the district court should have examined the developer's constitutional claims under its original jurisdiction, the court remands for the district court to determine whether there are any genuine issues of material fact relating to these claims that would preclude summary judgment.

Counsel for Appellant
Everett C. Johnson Jr.
Latham & Watkins
1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Ste. 1300, Washington DC 20004
(202) 637-2200

Counsel for Appellee
Gary M. Alizzeo, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
Department of Justice
48B-50 Kronprindsens Gade, St. Thomas VI 00802
(340) 774-5556

Before Sloviter and Stapleton, JJ.