DoE queries Emerald Sound

| 21/07/2011

(CNS): Comments submitted to Central Planning Authroity (CPA) by the Department of the Environment last year reveal a number of concerns about the proposed Emerald Sound development, which is due to be heard by the authority next month and proposes to cut canals from the ocean through to the inland site. One of the key issues, the DoE points out is that the precedent setting project has a costal works component that would require approval from both the CPA and Cabinet before it could go ahead.  In its notes the DoE said “A decision to approve a canal development outside of North Sound is essentially a policy decision that affects the future development of the rest of the country.”

The emergence of the development before the CPA has local residents deeply concerned as a petition with more than 1100 signatures against the project was submitted to the planning department last January. The application was first submitted at the end of 2009 but there has been no movement on the project since then.

Burns Connolly, who is representing the developer, explained to CNS that the plans had been on hold while a costal works license was processed for the project. However, he stated that it was recently discovered that thedeveloper does not need to wait on that license before the proposals can come before the CPA.

The CPA will hear the application on 3 August, a time when a number of residents objecting to the project are off island and unable to attend. However, the CPA has refused to change the date at the applicant’s request. Connolly denied this stating that the development team was notified of the date by the CPA and they too had to alter plans in order to make it.

Those who are opposing the project will be holding a meeting on Thursday evening (details below) in order to discuss the environmental threats posed by the project. The DoE has warned that the plans include excavation of the seabed in a designated scenic zone which is protected under the Marine Parks Regulations. (See notes submitted to CPA below)

“The replenishment zone is to protect marine habitats which are critical to aiding the replenishment of populations of marine species, in particular conch and lobster. Mangrove and seagrass habitats play pivotal roles in this replenishment process. Any activity which removes or substantially alters the mangrove and seagrass habitats would have serious consequences on the recovery of key species in the Replenishment Zone,” the DoE states. It has also raised real concerns about the controversial canals and pointed to the real danger that these could pollute the South Sound. 

Among the myriad questions the project raises, the DoE also queries the need for the development and urges the CPA to have the applicant provide an Economic Impact Statement or Cost Benefit Analysis to demonstrate the net economic benefit to the country.

The relocation of the road also raises concern for the DoE, which noted that government should not be relocating roads to assist developers gain lucrative returns without benefit to the wider public. “The precedent that this application would set should approval be granted may spark similar types of applications to arise in the future on narrow coastal real estate in other areas of South Sound, West Bay Road, Pease Bay, North Side, East End and even on the Sister Islands.”

The DoE stressed the need for owners of waterfront property to create developments in harmony with the natural environment.

The residents and other objectors say the development will leave them vulnerable to tidal inundation during hurricanes and storms and the canals will increase the risk to properties and lives of hundreds of people in Old Crew Road, Bel Air Drive and Cayman Crossings.

As well as setting a dangerous precedent, the movement of the road, which is crown land, will be turned into profit for the developer, the objectors say, creating a dozen ocean side lots but the public which owns the land will not benefit.  There are also concerns that the development site is deep swampy peat, making it difficult to seal off with marl leading to seepage into the Sound via the canals.

“Badden Kirkonnell, who previously owned the land in 1988, lost his excavator exploring the land. He realized it was uneconomical and unfeasible to develop the land because of how deep the peat was,” one of the objectors revealed.

Connolly has said the objections are merely myths and misinformation. The entire canal path was surveyed last year for peat depth and the deepest area was “minus 2 feet”, with an average of depth of “sea level”, he said. “No part of the canal will leave exposed peat to the canal water,” Conolly told CNS.

He said the current application involves the development of approximately 90 acres of land on the landside and that the 22 lots on the seaside are not a part of the application. The client has applied for the coastal works simultaneously for the deepening of an area of about 0.7 acres to go from the shoreline to a previously dredged area in the sound which has deeper water.

In total, he said, the plan calls for 81 home sites, approximately 160 apartments over time and a small mooring basin supported by a 6-8 foot deep winding canal. He described the development as “extremely low density … using up less than 40 percent” of its potential.

Conolly said that the developer was not moving the road to create lots on the seaside as full surveyed lots already exist. “The road movement is to allow double bicycle lanes and separate pedestrian lanes and quality landscaping,” he said. “The road will be higher and thus less susceptible to wave impact.” However, this is not a view held by other experts or many of those objecting to the plans.  

He also denied that moving it would set a precedent as some 3,000 feet of South Sound Road was moved to allow the creation of the Pirates Lair development, Anne Bonny Crescent, Mary Reid Crescent, as well as the rugby and squash/tennis clubs in 1970. Conolly stated that other parts of the island have had the roads moved away from the sea after hurricanes.

The project would not affect any mangroves, he said, maintaining that there are none at the site of the canal entrance but noted that the developer plans to replant some mangroves as per the coastal works application. However, the replenishment of mangroves is notoriously difficult and the DoE has noted that mangroves are at risk in the face of this proposed development.

Connolly further claimed that there was no increased risk of flooding as the development will not be less than 7-8 feet above sea level. “By the time water exits over the top of the canal, surrounding areas will be under approximately 4 feet of water from seawater that crosses the remaining road, which at points is only 2 1/2 feet above sea level,” he said.

The  public meeting will be held on Thursday evening  (21 July) 6pm at 36 Hinds Way. Anyone who requires further information is requested to contact

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (39)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    While I don't support what is being proposed in South Sound, I do have two questions to ask.

    1) How come Dart can do his thing with the blessing of Govt and CITA but this developer is being railroaded into the ground?  After all both have and will do their share of environmental destruction with their current developments. 

    2) I wonder if all those protesting this SS development are all living a 100% environmentally friendly life or are they pots calling the kettle back?

    The double standard in this island is disgusting. 

  2. Anon says:

    I find it interesting that the developer (& assistants) talk about the low density of only 81 home site & 160 apartments. What is not said is that the developer does not intend to actually develop any of those. The plans only show the lots and at past meetings he did not give any indication of futher development. So other developers need to come along or we are left with a large blank open space. Like so many other similar developments that exist.

    • South Sounder says:

      Anyone able to tell me who will pay, if this proves to be an environmental disaster?…..the developers, the owners, the planning authority, the residents of South Sound…….or just all of us, who ignore the lack of direction afforded the planning authorities, on Grand Cayman.
      Next planning disaster…Seven mile beach canal, the dump, Shetty Hospital, East End port…..the list is endless…no concept of developing a Cayman style, just more concrete……more money…..more power

  3. Cayman Stew says:

    Many folk don't know this, only born and raised here Caymanians, but South Sound, is the home for hickatees, land turles with claws that live in the moist swampy areas along the South Sound. So if one man should decide to develop there, cut down the pine trees and cover the area with marl for foundations, they will more than likely cover and kill many hickatees. As a kid, riding my bicycle through South Sound, seeing the scenic beauty, and hearing the relaxing noise of the wind through the pine nettles, these things will just be mere memory. When will we ever learn that the so-called useless bush and the wildlife we take for granted, is a valuable part of the Caymanian Culture? 

    • Anonymous says:

      you mean, you would prefer to run over the "higgatees" with your SUV so your child can hear the crunch of Caymanian culture?

      I am sure the new bike lanes of Emerald Sound will be a darn sight safer than risking your child on that road as it exist now. Smell the roses and thank the developer for making that area a whole lot better than the dead pine trees are now- no noisy wind through those trees now.


      • Anonymous says:

        If it wasn't for the greedy, selfish, thoughtless people who insisted on building million $ homes on the ocean side of the road or in former swamp land, our home insurance would be lower as less would have been destroyed in Ivan and we would all have a lovely ocean view to enjoy.

        If the developers or geniuses at NRA and Planning had any though for the future, all costal road would have had a culvert under them to ensure the land crabs would have been able to reach the sea to release their eggs without being run over.

        And if greedy politicians would stop interfering and take their grubby hands out of the pie the pie could be enjoyed by all, not just a select few.  Pie soon done. 

    • Libertarian says:

      Give to the National Trust and non-for-profit organizations. There are many lands they can capture and secure for future generations. If we don't buy up the stakes, then guess who will – the greedy investors will. So I appeal to the public and well off individuals to donate money for the preservation of our culture – the key tourism product.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Build it all up, East End included!  Sooner rather than later it will all be under water anyway…

  5. Danielle Coleman says:

    I am really saddened and angered that once again we are fighting to safe the beautiful tranquility of South Sound in order to prevent it from becoming a mass of concrete with gaping holes in it. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the detrimental effects of this proposal outweigh any goodness that may come out of it. Please Mr Hislop and Mr Connolly understand that most South Sounders (especially Bel Air Drive residents) are very anti this proposal and will object for as long as we have to to prevent it from happening!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Emerald Sound Development should get approval, what is good for one should be good for the other.  West Bay Road can be closed and realigned so can/should South Sound Road.  The residents of West Bay have the same rights as those of South Sound.



    • Assume da position... says:

      Dumfork – please show me the canals in the WB development…

      DOH – dey aint nun…


    • Sponge Bobo says:

      Two wrongs don't make a right, my friend.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree what is good for one developer should be good for another and that is why I think that neither the West Bay Road or the South Sound Road should be closed/moved/realigned to suit any developer. I'm sure if the Dart proposal was separated into sections, a lot of people would not want WBR closed or land given to a certain West Bay private school for instance. They may agree with the new road and the dump proposal. Let's have a poll on that please.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It is a shame the land was sold to the developer just post-Ivan for a pittance, compared to what the land will be now worth when developed. XXXX, there are many ironies here, once one learns who the players are. 

    It is also a shame that these families didn't designate the land area into some form of set-aside environmentally friendly eco park for all to enjoy, that would have preserved South Sound for future generations. 



    • Anonymous says:

      What is a shame is that one of the main objectors sold it to the developer!!

      • Anon says:

        Well, say bye bye to South Sound, and its beautiful pine trees. It been nice knowing you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Many precedents has been set.  This is what happens when there are no planning laws and the laws we do have are not enforced,

    and poly-tricks  are making the decisions.

    both are in Real Estate and   1  is an arch de take,  some people will turn these Islands upside down for a   $  knowing all lives will be lost and then say it was'nt me.

    laws and enforcable laws that are enforced r what is needed. who were and are the drafters of laws   wid no teet is this a coincidence

  9. Durrrr says:

    CNS as impartial as ever:

    "However, the CPA has refused to change the date at the applicant’s request. Connolly denied this…"


    You state the first sentence like it's a fact, but with no quote or evidence to back it up, and then follow it up with a denial from someone who would know. Tabloid journalism at its finest.


    And what has the following got to do with DoE?!


    "The relocation of the road also raises concern for the DoE, which noted that government should not be relocating roads to assist developers gain lucrative returns without benefit to the wider public. “The precedent that this application would set should approval be granted may spark similar types of applications to arise in the future on narrow coastal real estate in other areas of South Sound, West Bay Road, Pease Bay, North Side, East End and even on the Sister Islands.”"

    • Anonymous says:

      If you would like the quote to back it up here it is:


      "Dear All,

      Regrettably, the applicant has informed the Department that they are unable to change the Central Planning Authority’s meeting date noted below for a later date in September.  As a result, the above application will be presented to the Authority on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at 10:30 a.m., 133 Elgin Avenue, Government Administration Building, Ground Floor Conference Room.


      If you are unable to attend, please let us know whether you would like to have your letter of objection read into the minutes.



      Burton E. Schneider"


      How impartial does the CPA sound NOW?



      • Durrrr says:

        Who is Burton Schnieder? And who said anything about the CPA being impartial?


        Your quote doesn't back up CNS' sentence anyway. The applicant being unable to change the date is completely different to the applicant requesting that it not be changed.

  10. Ubelievedat says:

    The Flood Gates have been opened – sadly, there's no stopping of the ripping-up, digging-up and tearing-down of these Islands.

    • anonymous says:

      They were opened 40 years ago and the computer and electricity you wrote this blog with was fortunately the result.

  11. Tired of the Games says:

    Of course the DOE queries this.  They query any movement anyone makes.  It's too bad they are such extremists as they frighten away most developers rather than trying to reach a common ground.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you will find that this development wants to make the common ground into a canal.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I think the objectors are going to have difficulty on this one if they don't have real facts. It is clear Mr Rene and Mr. Connoly have done a lot of work on this or they would not be prepared to move this forward.



  13. Hoosier Daddy says:

    This cannot be allowed to go ahead.  

    Before the pitch-fork mob of anti-Dart-ites come out wailing that the proposals for Seven Mile Beach road changes are already setting a precedent to allow this, let me ask a couple of questions…

    1, Where is Rene putting the public beach and park in his development for useby ALL Caymanians?  I assume he is guaranteeing a continued right of way on the form of walking and biking paths along the existing road footprint, even if they fall into Mr-Millionaire's front lawn…

    2, I assume he will be funding and constructing the proposed arterial roads currently shown in the street atlas from Walkers' Road through to the Grand Harbour round about, and asides, and as an added gesture, will contribute to the east-west artery further out from Hirst Road – after all, the buyers of his Savannah developments deserve a better traffic flow…

    3, How many hotel rooms will he have in the development that will attract tourism dollars and recurring revenue for government and the country as a whole?

    4, Has he decided where he will locate his proposed school in the development?  You know, the school on the land that he is givving Government (read, you the PEOPLE of Cayman) for the added value he gets by moving the road…

    5, Can Mr Rene show me where the Dart proposals have included any canal systems originating from any area OTHER than the North Sound, more specifically, along the Seven Mile Beach corridor?

    6, If allowed to go ahead, will Mr Rene please get all of his team and himself together to swear an affadavit that if future developments wish to carve canal access from points other than the North Sound, they will not only not object, but fully support such ventures?  Specifically, I assume he, and they, will have no problem when a certain land owner adjacent to his house decides to apply to put a canal across South Church Street, (and a bridge to not disturb the traffic flow) so the potential developer might then be allowed to build a small, super exclusive, canal community in the Webster's Estate area.  I am sure Mr Rene would not object to a proposed development of condos on said canal basin.  Indeed, as I see it, since this possible venture would not require fill, he could use it to make up for the defecit of fill in his plan, and since the canal would enter off the west coast, it would be sufficiently deep to avoid the need for a grant to excavate the ocean floor.

    I suspect question 6 will highlight just how NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) Mr Rene and his team are – there is no way on God's green earth he would allow this by his house.  Why should anyone else???

    But you, fellow South Sounders, YOU, that will be right next door, are subject to the whims and power of the rainbow team…

    You do know, a rainbow is located at the edge of the earth and the bucket of gold at the end of it is never found – seems the team wants us to go over the edge looking and know the only ones to walk away with a pot'o'gold, are they themsleves!!!

    Step Up and OBJECT.  This is not just a South Sound issue – time to march on the great green mansion and let them know, we AIN'T ON BOARD.


    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, bitter much? lol

      I'm on the fence with this project, but I will say this;  Dart's donations are a PITTANCE to the increased value of his land value (some estimate $200Million +)

      And him moving the dump?  He had no choice.  If the dump was giving problems 15 miles from him, it would be someone else's problem!




      • Assume da position... says:

        $110 says you don't live anywhere NEAR the proposed development or the areas that will be affected by it.

        If you do, the only reason you're on the fence is to stay out of the flood waters created by this abomination…

        As for Dart, clearly you are not looking at the WHOLE package and only where the group gains.  And apparently you have negated to take into consideration the net starting value of the properties.  The overall end value may be in the hundreds of millions, but it was already way up there by virtue of its location.  The net gain is offset by the costs they are incurring for the roads and land donations.  It is a give and take – and some people are just jealous they are not in a position to make such agreements.  

      • Kung Fu Iguana says:

        15 miles from him is 15 miles for 95% of us.  Seems a great idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rene's "public" area will more than likely be an area of inaccessible mangrove.

      Just ask about the "public" space for his other proposed development between Snug Harbour and Canal Point, where he is also trying to insert a canal with a 4 ft buffer separating it from the Canal Point canal.

      An area thats already been designated as a mangrove buffer will be also designated as a "public" area in this development.

      It becomes clear now why McKeeva wanted to dredge the North Sound. It is to facilitate developments like Rene's and Mike Ryan's to the detriment of the rest of the islands inhabitants.


  14. nauticalone says:

    I agree with the DoE (and the objectors) on this!

    The developers can build on the land side and leave the road alone. However, now that the Govt. has allowed Dart to move the SMB Rd. it will be increasingly difficult to give rationale why other developers can't get the same deal (to create valuable oceanfront land).


  15. Anonymous says:

    Developers greed. The same has happened on the seaside of Seven Mile Beach with monotonous looking condos built  many a time by the same builder. They have given nothing back to the community– not even a traffic round about garden to improve the buity of these islands leave alone scholarships for Caymanians.

    I cannot same the say the same of Mr Dart  who has given back to the community in some form or another.


    • Anonymous says:

      You people kill me always thinking someone owes you something just becuase you're Caymanian, that's nothing special you're human like anyone else. And if a developer buys land and builds something on it with his own money he has no obligation to give back to the community. If he chooses to that just what it is a choice and we need to appreciate it.

      This is obviously why a lot of us have nothing, becuase a lot of us are to busy waiting for handouts to get off thier butts an work for something.

      And get this, I am a Born Caymanian and getting sick and tired of the reputation people like all of you have created for us..We need to start learning to pick ourselves up and be responsible for our own futures and our childrens futures.

      • Anonymous says:

        What future do we and our children will have? There will be nothing left of these islands but cement estructures, empty roads, canals, dead coral, spilled sewage, a big garbage pile and pollution.

        The smart people would have left by then as not tourist would come to see dead coral,  private beaches and get robbed on top of that.

        Those of us left here will not even be able to go back to our roots and go fishing because we already fished out all grouper, took all the conch and killed all the turtles and reef would be dead in any case. 

        Building and developing more makes us more "responsible and dedicated" toward the future? Where are we going to put more people, more cars, more buildings? The island is 22 miles long by 7 wide and most of it is mangrove swamp that sustains the  environment that makes this place the Paradise that once was and we persist on destroying without much thought other than filling the pocket of those who are alive today. They will not be here when these islands become a monument of what we once were.

      • Anonymous says:

        To this "Born Caymanian" — Let me tell you something, I am a born and bred Caymanian. "You people" are the people who built this island. "You people" are the ones who have to protect it because no one else will. You say that we need to be concerned for our children's future but they (as developers) need not give anything back to the community??? As DEVELOPERS it is their down-right role to help construct a better community, not take from it.  

        Yes, we are human and because we are Caymanian does not make us any better or any worse than anyone else but, I guarantee that you would not see this in another country and their local people laying down and taking this as you seem to propose that we do. If anything, it would be that country's local people and developers in control of these projects not some foreign expat who is looking out for nothing more than his own wallet. Caymanians have had enough taken from them in the past and if you ask me, it is about DAMN time that they give something back from all that they have taken.  

        Don't contradict yourself my friend. Think before you speak. You, as you say, are a born Caymanian I believe that you should be a bit more concerned about facilitating and preserving a place where our children CAN have a future and have something left over after they have torn apart our small island.

        And let me tell you another thing, the majority of us Caymanians are NOT afraid of work, it is the little punks running around who have gotten little to no attention in the single parent family home who are creating a bad name for our local people, so dont tell me that I must go and get a job when Caymanians are begging for jobs in this society. I am blessed to have an excellent job with one of Cayman's top firms. Nobody is asking for "hand-outs" as you have said. Instead we are looking to see what good they can offer back to our communities as a whole to make this island a better, more cohesive place. They damn well should have to compensate the Caymanian people for the land, scenery and environmental habitats they continue to destroy. That is they very least they can do.

        I have MANY friends and family who are in connection with some of Cayman's biggest and most sucessful projects and they have made it a pinnacle aspiration to ensure that the Caymanian people get something back for what land or habitats they may have taken away in the process.

        For someone who calls themself "born Caymanian"… You should be ashamed.    

        • Anonymous says:

          First of all noone came here and took anything, it was our own people who sold that land to foriegners and now complain of how much land is owned by expats. How many Caymanians are willing to put thier own hard earned cash into inproving this island we call home.  And weather you like it or not business is business and everyone whos in business is looking out for thier own wallet. No different then you would do if you had an investment in anything or owned a business. And don’t tell me about Caymanian wanting to work or not there are plenty who do but there are also a lot who are lazy good for nothings that have the attitude that they shouldn’t have to earn thier keep. These are the ones that make it hard for the people that are willing to put in thier dues. Yes seven mile beach looks like a little miami now but thats only becuase our own people sold it to these guys for the all mighty dollar. Where was their since of preservation for the Island they were just seeing dollars signs and now we are seeing the result of thier greed.  we need to stop blamming everyone else an take a look in the mirror. It was our own people who sold us out, nothing was taken these rich developers just saw an opportunity that the poeple who owned that land didn’t see. All those hotel on seven mile beace could have been Caymanian own, if people would’ve made better decisions in the past.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ummh, actually you are looking for handouts – your friend who wrote just above you was right.  These developers are not taking anything – they are buying something and paying you good money for it.  If you don't like the price, don't sell it.  So don't make it sound as if you are giving things out for free.  You are not…  And the ones who are approving these plans are your very own people.  So if you somehow think that something is being destroyed, it is being destroyed because you are allowing it to be destroyed.  Get it?  So please stop your whining and freeloading – become more self-sufficient as the previous writer suggested…

          • Anonymous says:

            Look JACKASS. It's called corporate social responsibility. NOT HANDOUTS. For example when someone develops a large area of land for either residential purposes or business, say close to the water such as this, they go back once the project is completed and replant mangroves, implement more green solutions or even put in better roads and aesthetics around the area for COMMUNITY use.   

            You ignorant bunch of baloos need to understand that we are not talking about anything going into our pockets but into the community. Its fine with me if YOU do not want your island to thrive and see improvement but I in fact do. 🙂 

            • Anonymous says:


              Nothing wrong with giving back ‘Baloo’, the point is that they are not obligated to give anything and if they do then its good will on their part and should be appreciated not expected. Things like replanting mangroves are usually required if they are removing any and are attempts to mitigate some of the damage caused by development. Things like scholarships for Caymanians or round about gardens are something that a person chooses to do because they want to help the people or help beautify the environment but are not requirements nor corporate responsibility. And as far as scholarships go they are a great thing but people should not be sitting on their bums waiting for someone else to send them or their kids to school for a higher education, they need to realize that what they become in life is their own responsibility. And weather you believe it or not I want to see the island thrive but no matter how many handouts there are or charities created without the people being willing to do their part we will get nowhere and the Caymanian people will be members of a forgotten culture with only themselves to blame.