Residents fight quarry return

| 01/02/2011

(CNS): Residents of Mahogany Estates in Lower Valley are taking up the fight to save their neighbourhood from being turned into what they describe as a quarry once again. For many years residents in the area have been battling the excavation in the heart of their community. The misery was finally ended for them in late 2008 when the Central Planning Authority (CPA) denied an application from the developer to restart leveling the land. However, on Wednesday of this week the authority will be hearing another application from Whiterock Investment to extract 295,000 cubic yards of fill, threatening the short lived peace and quiet the residents have only recently regained as well as the natural environment.

The ongoing saga that the community has faced for many years has resurfaced despite the fact that in October 2008 the CPA denied an application to restart the development (which the developer denies is a quarry) on the correct basis that it was illegal to pursue activities that would "cause noise and create a nuisance and annoyance to the residents of the area" and "negatively affect the quality of life of the residents in the surrounding area."

Following another application from the developer, who says the excavation is in order to level the property for further development, the residents have once again had to file their objections.

One of the local residents and one of those who spearheaded the original campaign against the attempts to quarry there, Reverend Nicholas Sykes, said the application should not keep returning to the CPA and causing the continued distress to residents.

“The planning department shouldbe empowered to ‘just say no’ to all such applications made after the CPA’s decision in 2008,” Rev. Sykes said on the eve of a meeting, which had already been postponed from a previous date in December, further heightening the anxiety of the residents.

As a member of the team which helped shape the Cayman Islands Constitution 2009, Sykes noted that it provides for the right to a "Private and Family Life" and “Lawful Administrative Action", which he believes applies to the situation that he and his neighbours keep finding themselves with regards to the persistent attempts by the developer to level the property through industrial quarrying.

“The Development and Planning Law can, it would seem, provide for such an empowerment of the planning department by delegation from the CPA,” Sykes said, explaining that the 2008 decision should continue to apply to the application and not require the residents to constantly raise their objections.

Since the developer is not prevented from reapplying, Sykes believes that because the 2008 decision is not delegated onto the applications the residents are forced to go through the whole objection process again and again, causing them “much distress” as they repeatedly have to prepare their opposition to every application the developer makes.

Sykes said that yet again the people of Mahogany Estates will attend in numbers to protect their homes as they cannot risk that the application could go through by default. He is, however, hoping that this time it may be possible for the October 2008 CPA decision to be applied to all subsequent applications to quarry in this area, removing the residents’ constant obligation to fight for the community, as he believes the law provides for such delegation.

“If this were done, we the residents should not have to be called to further meetings to keep putting the matter back to bed,” Sykes added hopefully. .

The application to excavate not only presents a threat to the people of the neighbourhood but also to the natural forest in the area, which is home to a number of endangered species, including the rare white shouldered bat, which was once thought to be extinct in the Cayman Islands but was rediscovered in the area in 2001. The Department of Environment is hoping the area will become one of the country’s first critical habitats under the new conservation law, which has yet to be passed.

With no conservation law in place, when the CPA hears the application on Wednesday there will be no compulsion for the members to consider the environmental implications, nor will the landowners be under any obligation to carry out an environmental impact assessment if the CPA was to grant permission.

The developer has stated in the application that it will move some of the native trees and that it believes that any species at risk would move to the surrounding area, so the environmental impact would be minimal.

The developer also claims that because the blasting will be done during the day the impact of the excavation on residents will also be kept to a minimum. However, while there is no conservation law to protect the bats, the residents are hoping the planning law, which clearly states that this kind of activity is not permitted in a residential area, will protect them.

CNS Note:  This story was removed from the CNS website for over two hours this morning following a telephone call from an individual claiming to represent Whiterock Investment. Althoughthe caller did not fully articulate the legal complaint he had about the article, he threatened to sue CNS as he did not like the content of the story. In order to give the caller time to clarify his exact complaint and spell out what he believed was inaccurate in writing CNS agreed to temporarily remove the article until noon. Since that commitment was made by us we have not received any written complaint specifying why the caller believes the article is incorrect.

In the interests of clarity, CNS would like to note that Whiterock insists that the application referred to in the story is not for a quarry but for a development. However, the residents who are objecting have persistently referred to the excavation as quarrying and we believe the readers can make their own judgements based on the image.

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Comments (27)

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  1. Anonymous says:

     I want to buy some rocks from White Rock.  The trucks should be driving in to Mahogany Estates tomorrow morning and the money rolling out of the eyes of the developer.  I am sure he is laughing all the way to the bank.  What  a surprise, or is it a big joke.  That’s what you get.

  2. KPowery says:

    Greed is a terrible thing and unfortunately too many people are suffereing from this. Minister Scotland how is things going with the Conservation Bill going? Oh I forgot you need to review a few more things in order to let every green space become developed and then consult with Mac and his hedgemen ok we’l wait another 20 years.So sad that in difficult times leadership is the hardest thing to find, so true in Cayman.

    I hope residents will again sign a petition to ensure that no more quarries are dugged in Cayman and National Trust start taking action.

    Blessings to all,

  3. Anonymous says:

    It is mind baffling that at this day and age we still seems to be 20 years behind. Whilst so many other tropical destinations have learned their lesson, embraced mother nature again and learned that more is not always more, the greed in this country continues to dictate every and all decissions. Some are not happy until every square mile has been converted to concrete!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Since when was CNS in the business of endorsing the decisions of committees?  I have no dog in this fight, but found this editorial somewhat surprising:

    "… on the CORRECT basis that it was illegal to pursue activities that would ’cause noise and create a nuisance and annoyance to the residents of the area’".

    Whilst I’m sure the basis is a legitimate ground for denial, it is not appropriate for CNS reporters to pass judgment in favour or against this kind of decision (at least not so flippantly).

    I’m not surprised the developer took offence.

  5. Anonymous says:

     All involved in objecting to this application cannot cease to be amazed that this is now the third time that this same application which was denied in 2008 on legal grounds, keeps being listed for hearing by the CPA. It is illegal.  That should be a red flag to all who will be hearing this matter.  The law applies to each and every one of us and we are all accountable.  If the CPA do not have the power to refuse to hear applications which are clearly illegal, then its time they were given the power.  The law also needs to be amended so that no one can apply for planning permission unless they own the land, or with the express written consent of the owner(s).  In the case of a person owning the land as administrator of an estate, then all of those entitled to benefit should give their consents.  We hope and pray that all the CPA members are willing to look at the whole picture, espcially the plight of residents who will have quarrying directly behind their properties, as in a few feet away.  The developer has planning permission to excavate down to four feet.  There are plenty of new developments in the area.  NO one else has had to blast down to sea level in order to sell lots.  In fact, most people are raving about how beautiful the wooded area is and how plentiful wildlife is.  Perhaps the difficulty they are having in selling lots is because people see the way other property owners have been treated.  Because none of the surrounding developments are having any trouble at all selling lots.  

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is so disheartening to see the distruction of these islands by so called ‘development’. In Cayman Brac, there is a gaping hole in the middle of the island, which is getting bigger all the time. How can the government of these islands and the people allow this to happen? It is hard to believe that people actually fly over these islands and see what they look like. They are over developed and cut to pieces, with very little thought to sustainability. The eyesore in Cayman Brac does not even attract any concerns. Shocking!

  7. The 3 R's says:

    Readers of CNA can refer to the agenda of the Wednesday meeting, which is on the Planning Department’s web-site. It can be found at

    CPA Meeting #2011-02_Agenda

    The first 46 pages of it catalogue the objections rather fully. Take a look! This is no "whine"!

     

  8. anonymous says:

     Can someone explain why this fill, and that of the proposed EE port is so valuable that the developers are willing to go to any extreme to quarry? I don’t get it….

  9. pmilburn says:

    Same old same old.When are some people on this island going to learn not to mess with Mother Nature.Pure un-adulterated greed is what all this boils down to. Is this another quick money making scheme?.What about the surrounding areas re storm surge when all this has been cleared down and away?Do any of these so called developers live right next to all this?Are they prepared to listen to all the noise associated with this so called “Development”?I urge the CPA to leave well enough alone.Its not hard to see why all this is being “pushed”through before the Conservation Law is passed.This could just be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to protecting and saving our fragile environment.

  10. bob MARL-ey says:

    Dont let Whiterock cart away the fill and sell it. Require them to just smooth out the sides and use the fill created to raise the bottom of the hole.  This would get the land level twice as fast and it would end up higher and thus much more desireable for ‘development’. The project would take half as long which would be less taxing on the neighbors.

    Dont worry nearby homeowners.  If you are right and this development application is a thinly disguised quarrying permit the above approach will expose it for being a lie as there will be no profits on selling the dirt.

    Its been a while since I played in the sandbox but I always felt the best way to get rid of a hole was to fill it in – not dig away everything around it.

     

  11. expat weirdo says:

    Someone should study the history of Easter Island. At this rate there will be nothing left of Grand Cayman for the grand children of this nation. This is a tiny island so why so quick on making decisions to destroy it?

  12. UDP for Life says:

    As a proud supporter of our Premier, I believe that a Conservation Law will just stifle development and lead to more people like these whiners trying to stop us developing our land. So what is we destroy some bluff or disturb some bats? This is the cost of development so just get over it! 

    • expat weirdo says:

      Do you travel much? Why don’t you visit some countries with no conservation laws and get back to me.

      Maybe you want to cut down all the forest so the place looks like Haiti? Or would you prefer more of a China look?

       

    • Anonymous says:

      Those "whiners" are home owners and they have rights.  In addition, there are rules and guidelines that apply to the Cayman Islands which the petitioner must follow.  Not everyone who owns a piece of heavy machinery is entitled to do whatever they want.

      Here’s hoping the next road is dug right through where your living room used to be.

      🙁

       

    • Anonymous says:

      it’s a troll folks 

    • Anonymous says:

      Ifthis quarry goes through, one day you will realize that YOUR lands, YOUR family, and YOUR livelihood has been affected by it. When that happens, I hope someone will be there to support YOU in your desire and efforts to live peacefully on your island, without fear of someone coming to destroy your land value and way of life. Instead of being peeved with you for such a shortsighted comment, I simply hope that you will get some understanding before it’s too late for you. 

    • Anonymous says:

      your home may also be under watersoon if development is allowed to destroy the few cliffs we have.  Don’t you care if anything is left for your children or their children?  The whiners were sold land under false pretences because one very small detail, the fact that the developer would be quarrying the area, was left out of any conversations, contracts or anything else.  As much as you would like to ignore the law of the land it applies to you, me and everyone else and one day someone in power will have the balls to enforce it.   

    • Joe Mamas says:

      “Proud supporter of our Premeir.” In other words someone who is payed well from the publics purse for nothing in return but your vote and loyalty? Free health care, free gas. Are you one of the many who get free first class.plane rides, 5 star hotel and food, maybe a car to go with that? All payed for by the people who work for a living and get nothing for free and very little in return from paying their duty’s, fee’s, permits,etc., etc. If I were one of the bush tribe I could see why the future of the islands wildlife and the needs of the “little” people would seem insignificant in comparison to your tribes growing appetite for the good life.

    • Anonymous says:

      First of all, I suspect and hope that "UDP For Life" is jerking everyone’s chain out of a misplaced and decidedly black sense of humour. In any case, this should have nothing to do with our Premier or the UDP. It is a legal matter, I trust anyway.

      Those in the area who have constructed a home on land that was sold to them as residential, are now confronted with the possibility that Whiterock will be successful in changing the existing land use to allow a quarry. This is about as un-funny as I can imagine for those who live in the area, as well as for anyone who has invested or intends to invest in property elsewhere in the Cayman Islands.

      It is immensely  disturbing to think that a planning application might  be approved under the  very same laws that have already been invoked to firmly reject it. And one would have to be brain-dead not to ask the natural question, "what is it about the circumstances of the current application that make it different from the previous one?"

      Approval in this case has the potential to do immense damage to the confidence of Cayman property investors, and it would make a mockery of the Planning Law. Local residents are asking many questions such as: "why, when the order was issued to fill up the illegally excavated quarry, was this ignored?" "How did they get away with this?". "Can I  flout the laws of the Cayman Islands too?" Also, they ask, "how is it possible that this application  made it past the front door, in the light of its previous and unequivocal rejection by the CPA?" 

      Frankly, the idea that blasting, quarrying and trucking might be permitted in this residential area is utterly disgraceful. To me it is incomprehensible, so much so that were it to happen, I believe that lawsuits would fly in all directions like fireworks, released by a sense of profound outrage in those who have made very large investments in good faith.

       

    • F. A. Cetious says:

      You are correct. What are we conserving for? The future? There is none. The Good News  Baptist Church rightly proclaims on their public display that Jesus could be back to fetch us all at any time. We might as well make the most of the little time we do have left in this domain. Only the filthy rich will get to heaven so we all need to grab whatever we can as quick as we can.

      Long live King Mac!

       

  13. Anonymous says:

    Gosh, keep it simple people, if it was ‘NO’ then, it should be ‘NO’ now, this can not be subject to any further considerations or deliberations in order to make the CPA change their mind as nothing has changed since then besides a lapse of time.

    Indeed, still waiting for that conservation law!!

    Anytime soon??

  14. Anonymous says:

    The threat made to CNS is just another in a long line of threats which residents and their children have had to endure over the past 15 or so years. There is already a gaping hole 18′ deep and from previous ILLEGAL quarrying which the past Govt. issued a stop order against. This is where the developer was given planning permission to excavate down to 4 feet. If this is approved, you can kiss the Beach Bay Bluff goodbye XXXXX. Then please tell me where you can find anyone foolish enough to buy a lot in an area some 25 to 30 feet below the surrounding cliffs? This is not a development. This is a quarry. We have already experienced trucks in and out 24 hours per day, 7 days per week with truck drivers sleeping in trucks overnight, whilst parked on the driveways of residents homes in order to be first into the quarry back in 2007/2008. If this is allowed, it will not just affect Beach Bay, surrounding areas are likely to be flooded because you are giving the sea access in land where it is currently protected by a 30 to 35 foot bluff. 2 days after Ivan, waves were still breaking above the huge 2 storey homes on the far end of Seaspray Drive. The same thing happened when Wilma passed by.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Good luck with it

    I personlly have found that this CPA seems to rubber stamp anything, including many decisions rejected by the prior CPA

    In one case a development that was rejected due to too many units, was reapplied iwith 10% more units and the new CPA accepted it even though their were more units than allowed for the low density residential unit allowed.

    The first meeting around 50 people turned up in protest, so they deferred the meeting then gave notice for the second meeting the morning of the meeting. Then when so many didn’t know the meeting was being held, actully menioned the fact that there were so few portesots present that everyone wanted the development.

    Welcome to the new Bushman Islands

  16. Libertarian says:

    This is why we need a Conservation Law in place. If they can’t set laws to protect the environment and on how deep one can quarry then they should get rid of quarrying all together!

    And secondly, if this is just to prepare the grounds for the new dump. Government should at least inform the nearby residents.

    Remember, Cayman needs development in order to grow; however, we need to “responsibly” develop ourselves taking our environment, the wellbeing of people’s lives, and valued property into consideration.

  17. noname says:

    Better get that rock out of there and sold quick before Joe start digging up East End.

    • Anonymous says:

      You mean “levelling” up East End right??

      • Anonymous says:

        This is just as serious as the proposed East End development.  Unfortunately, Bodden Town does not have MLA’s with enough courage to stand up for the residents and what is right.