‘Quarry’ refusal appealed

| 09/02/2012

quarry 4.JPG(CNS): UpdateThe tribunal meeting has now been postponed in connection with the following story–:   The residents of Mahogany Estates in Lower Valley are in fear that their homes could once again be on the doorstep of what they describe as a quarry. Despite the many refusals to the plans, the developer is not giving up. The planning tribunal will hear an appeal on Monday by Whiterock Investments against a decision it made one year ago not to allow the the excavation of 295,000 cubic yards of fill in the area. The residents of the Lower Valley Forest community, which is also home to a number of indigenous and native endangered species, have been battling with Whiterock for some 15 years over blasting and excavation in the heart of their quiet, countryside community.

Although the residents had hoped, once again, last year that their long running misery may have ended when the CPA denied the application, the appeal has raised significant concerns, not just for the homeowners but the local environment, which is home to the critically endangered white shouldered bat.

The application in February last year was denied, as was the case in October 2008, on the 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". The developer has filed an appeal stating that the CPA was “erroneous in law, unreasonable and in breach of the rules of natural justice.”

However, allowing the application would certainly be a threat to the natural environment as the developer wishes to level land in the heart of a habitat of particular significance.

As well as being home to the 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 hopes the forest will become one of the country’s first critical habitats protected in law should the long awaited national conservation law ever be passed.

With no conservation law in place at present, as with every planning issue the CPA or tribunal hears, during this appeal there will be no compulsion for it to consider the environmental implications nor, should the appeal be allowed, would the landowners be under any obligation to carry out an environmental impact assessment.

Both the endangered bat and the residents will be depending on the planning law, which prohibits excavation on such a scale in a residential area. Whiterock has denied allegations by the residents that the original application was a quarry but claims the goal is to level the land for development. The developer also claims that because the blasting will be done during the day the impact of the excavation on residents will be kept to a minimum.

In last year’s application Whiterock also stated that the environmental impact would be minimal as it would move some of the native trees at the site and as a result believed that any species at risk would move to the surrounding area.

Bishop Nicholas Sykes, one of the Mahogany Estate residents who has been leading the fight against the excavation for more than a decade, said that although the CPA had ruled against Whiterock three times, the residents once again would be forced to fight for their homes, their right to peace in their community and the environment. 

The appeal will be heard in the GIS conference room on the 2nd floor of the Government Administration Building at 9:00am.

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (45)

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  1. R.B. says:

    One generation plants the orchard.  The next generation enjoys the fruit.  The next generation burns the trees for a bonfire party weekend.  Guess where we are now.  Oh well…it beats working for a living.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Those people wondering how Mr Sykes became a Bishop need to see the Press Release, dated January 2012, sent out by his church St Albans (Grand Cayman) and St Mary's (Cayman Brac). It's very very odd. It's all being done by some religious group in British Columbia in Canada. Enough said. Nothing is happening in Cayman.

    However, his peculiar religious affiliation with quasi churches does not mean he can't fight this terrible quarrying problem he and others in the area  have to cope with. He is a resident. I suggest the media calls him Mr Sykes and stops trying to get people to think he is some important church figure.

  3. Dred says:

    Do people not understand the word NO. I mean its a simple word with only two letters. NO. No chance. No way. NO dang it.

  4. Peter Davey, Caymanian says:

    When I visit this beautiful area of Beach Bay, I see the opportunities that the owners of this ancient limestone karst forest, seem to have missed.

     

    A recent article in Architectural Digest focused on a development company in Arizona. They proved they could make more money  by selling large housing lots  protected by strong covenents rather than small ones that would  be 100% built over. These covenents prevented the owners from altering more than 25% of the lot's footprint, and as a result,   they were able to charge a large  premium, willingly paid by those purshasers who were rich enough to demand luxury, yet wanted to be surrounded by undisturbed  Nature.

     

    The Beach Bay forest could be made into a World-class development, one which celebrated luxury-living alongside undisturbed Nature, in the form of meandering walkways within each owner's private nature reserve. Look at how Disney developed Epcot for example, where something like 40% of the land has been left natural. Paying visitors love it.

     

    What sense  does it make to blast out hundreds of acres of primary forest, when it is the very thing that adds value to this wonderful area, and forms its real treasure?

     

    I wish I owned this land  myself, so I could prove to the World that when Nature is managed creatively and with a good business sense, I could  make a fortune in a way that would please both my investors and future generations, and make me damn proud as a result.

     

    Let's face it, the type of deveopment that is being put before the Planning Appeals Board by Whiterock has no place on this overcrowded island, or this planet. It's based on old, unscientific thinking, that's out of touch with the mindset of educated and informed people.

     

    Whiterock should turn their backs on this proposal and move into the 21st century. They'll be proud they did while still making themselves a fortune.

    • The Lorax says:

      Make money, AND save forest and wildlife all at once! Wonderful letter and brilliant idea. Let's put this person in charge please! 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to Bishop Sykes.  He is a good man, who cares about his people and the Cayman Islands.  He is not afraid to stand up for what is right and what he believes in.  We need more real men like him in the Cayman Islands. 

  6. noname says:

    Digging up the natural landscape and selling the earth for millions of dollars is the right of every Caymanian (except for paper Caymanians like Dart) and how dare any of you foreigners, even if you're a bishop, interfer with that right and take food out of our children's mouths.  If you don't like it, move somewhere eise.

    This has been a paid message by Citizens for the Right to Rape the Land and Make Millions and The Cayman Islands Dirt Diggers Association.

  7. Dickster says:

    Once again the rest of the world watches as Cayman bites its own backside.

    There has to be a set of conservation laws put into place in the very near future.

    There has to be a limit as to how many applications/appeals can be made on the same plot of land. 

    Costs have to be awarded to the residents for their money spent as well as the inconvenience this keeps causing.

    Quarrying, close to houses, and especially using explosives, has to be outlawed.

    Comments on this webpage, which are obviously from the developer, should also be forbidden unless they are not anonymous.

  8. Anonymous says:

    To all those making rude comments, you should try living in quarry conditions for a while as the residents of Mahogany Estates had to do. Trucks in and out of our small winding roads, 7 days a week.  It wasn't safe for your kids to be out.  Trucks parked on the end of driveways all night so they could get to the "quarry" first thing next morning and we have been left with  a huge hole around 17 feet deep in a residential area when they only had planning permission to excavate 4 feet down for the purpose putting in roads. They already have planning permission to make a sub-division. This is simply about quarrying in a residential area for  profit.  New homes have been damaged by their illegal blasting.  In addition, residents have been threatened by various members of this family.  The private roads are a disgrace.  There has been a long, long, long delay in having the roads gazetted to make them public roads.  In the meantime, the quality of the roads go down and down.  The Govt. did try to get some work done.  Removed hte topping of the road and the developer objected, told them to stop.  So we are now left with roads in a worse condition that before.  I am a property owner there.  I did not know they planned to quarry in my back yard when I built my property.  I knew they had planning permission for a sub-division.  They still do.  I have no problem with that.  Their plan is to excavate down 20 feet, leaving a gold fish bowl 20 feet below the surrounding area.  We are expected to believe that people would want to buy lots there when they have finished – 20 feet below the surrounding area.  Where do you think the sea will go when it crashes over the cliffs?  The sea is always rough at Beach Bay.  When storms have passed, there are huge waves crashing over the sea shore for days afterwards.  Anyone owning a lot in that goldfish bowl will be flooded. Also, that is limestone. Once you give the sea access who knows where the next Savannah Gully will appear – maybe in your backyard, or mine?  this is much more than a bunch of people worrying about bats.  Yes, the environment is a big concern but not just for the people of Mahogany Estates.  Before you criticize, go and look at the ridiculous plans.  This is all about money for hte developer. Once the quarry has been dug, it will be left alone because no one will buy a lot there.   

    • Anonymous says:

      It sucks to live in a third world country.

    • Anonymous says:

      The residents should get together and make a claim for compensation against the developer  in respect of the damage to property from explosions and/or any subsidence..  If he don't pay up start a civil action and take him to court.   

  9. Ricky says:

    This is rediculous!  Mark Scottland and Dwayne Seymour should ignore these people like they are doing to the Bodden Towners. It seems like every move to making money, is torn down by stupid environmentalist. These people against the economy don't deserve to ever be represented! 

    • Another Anon says:

      I hope you are being ironic.

    • Kung Fu Iguana says:

      "Rediculous" does, as "rediculous" says.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ignorance prevails or intelligent substance.  What I dont want in my back yard, I shouldn't expect someone else to accept as the norm.  You can't have your cake and eat it, that's what the developer is expecting and the residents have every right to put a stop to his madness forever.  There should be no hearing of any sort, XXXX

  10. Anonymous says:

    The people who bought, owns, built houses, living in Mahogany Estates are legal owners, and are entitled to their rights irrespective of them being preacher, saint or whatever you choose to refer to them as.  I would fight for my rights.

    XXXXX

  11. Anonymous says:

    I actually don't see what is wrong with CNS reporting on the eve of a hearing, football match, budget or whatever isn't that what newspapers and news websites do (duh)? 

    Also to the poster who had a "dig" (no pun intended) at Bishop Sykes he very much deserves to be a Bishop he cares about his community and the environment perhaps a few people on here should take some lessons from him!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is not strange. It is just like the rest of the world when it comes to religion.

     

    Read "God is not Great. How Religion Poisons Everything" by Christopher Hitchens. It is entertaining and an eye opener.

    • Anonymous says:

      The article has nothing to do with religion. If anything is poisoned it is your own mind.

  13. The 3 R's says:

    Strictly speaking, this is being heard by the Planning Appeals Tribunal and not by the CPA.

    One other bone of contention is that the applicants hope to lower the above sea-level height of 27 feet on average to a measly 10 feet.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care if the bat has white shoulders or is dressed in a tuxedo, it should not have more rights than us, humans.

    • Anonymous says:

      you're quite right and while we are at it let's get rid of those dumb blue iguanas, why protect them. They'll probably get in the way of some development in the future, might as well get rid of them now. and on that subject, let's kill off those pesky giant panda's, what use are they to man or beast. sod it, let's kill all animals, its our planet, they have absolutely no right to be here and only get in the way of our desire to get rich.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are humans living there in what is zoned as a residential area, who have already been subjected to illegal quarrying, so yes, they should have rights as well, to live in a residential area not in a quarry.  No one who lives there agreed to purchase property in the middle of a commercial quarry, which is exactly what this proposal is.  Illegal quarrying has already taken place there. Get it!!!!!

    • The Lorax says:

      The White-shouldered Bat's habitat will be destroyed by the quarry AND/OR the subdivision. Clearing land for houses is just as bad for bats and birds. Still, the quarry is worse – at least some people (like Rev. Sykes, who kept his lot beautifully forested)  try to keep native trees on their land, which is vital to not only bats, but migratory and local birds as well. Rev. Sykes' home should be the prototype for anyone planning to build in that forest. Saving a few Thatch palms is NOT saving the forest. Clear only the smallest possible footprint for a two-story house and leave the dense vegetation for shade, drainage, maintenance-free landscaping and to have birdsong all around. (and the bats would look very cute in little tuxedos! – great image!) 

  15. Anonymous says:

    This story is rife with inaccuracies and untruths and one has to wonder how it is that such utter rubbish can be published without the facts first being verified. Firstly, it the Planning Appeals Tribunal that is hearing the appeal NOT the CPA. The CPA is in fact the Respondent in the Appeal and is in fact represented by the CI Gov't Legal Department. The objectors are also Respondents in the Appeal and are ably represented by Counsel, so it could be asked why Mr Sykes and his fellow objectors are now trying, virtually on the eve of the Appeal hearing, to argue their case, once again, in the media. The irresistible inference is that this is being published now in an attempt to prejudice the Appeal by promulgating negative media coverage so as to persuade the Tribunal that the popular thing would be to dismiss the appeal. I don't think that will work this time though. There in was in fact no evidence at any stage that this area is the habitat of the white shouldered bat and in any event this is an already approved subdivision, which will obviously entail land clearing to build houses, so it is hard to see how such a puerile argument has any relevance to the appeal. The CPA in fact only heard the Application by Whiterock Investments ONCE, not three times. There was in fact a previous application by another party for a similar development. That application was refused and is also pending appeal. Furthermore, there is already existing planning permission which allows the continued excavation and removal of rock from the development, albeit on a smaller scale, so it is hard to understand how the proposed modification application, which simply seeks approval of more rock, is being painted as a "quarrying application" when in fact the only approval being sought is in the nature of what already exists, and ultimately the excavation will only produce a better residential subdivision. Whilst it is understood that some of us with a "higher calling" tend to believe that we can pontificate ad nauseous on any matter we feel very strongly about, we should strive to ensure that our facts are straight before we are rightly accused of promulgating propaganda with a view to perverting the course of justice. The same applies to those of us who publishes such information. This is an appeal "on the record", so the facts should be easy to ascertain for anyone who cares to seek and understand them.

    CNS Note: The error regarding the CPA has been corrected. As for the story being "rife with inaccuracies and untruths' we shall let the readers decide.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who exactly is trying to "prejudice the Appeal"?

    • Anonymous says:

      yes there have been 3 applications.  Whiterock claim that they have nothing to do with the original developer although the original developer can still be seen visiting the quarry site on an almost daily basis.  But of course he has nothing to do with this latest matter.  Yes I was born yesterday and I have seen pink elephants flying over the area!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      The land is the sacred vessel to be plundered and pillaged regardless of anyone or anything by people who do not care. Like children they must be restrained lest they hurt the island and those living in tha nearby community.

    • Anonymous says:

      "ad nauseam" not "ad nauseous"

  16. This is ridiculous says:

    There should be a three strike rule or something.  No means NO!

  17. Anonymous says:

    What is wrong with this White rock outfit? Who owns it and what about NO confuses him?

  18. Anonymous says:

    As with every application that goes to hearing, the 'wants' of the developer will outweight the 'concerns' of the populace………….XXXXX

    We need a conservation law now . A proper one, not some half hearted easy to work around law posing as a 'recommendation'. And one that will carry a heavy fine if breached and penalties are actually enforced, publicly and not in some shady back office way.

    If we dont you can kiss goodbye to anything sacred on this island and it will become a place where anyone with cash can rape the land to death; it's already happening so open your eyes folks ….

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask the MLAs, government why they are dragging their feet on the conservation law?  They are the incompetent lackies that can't see the forest for the trees.  

      Never heard of an development starting up a quarry in the midst of a sudivision after people have built their homes and are living there for almost 20 years.   It could only happen  in the Cayman Islands.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Greed and the lust for money knows no boundaries. 

  20. Anonymous says:

    How in the name of God did Nick Sykes become a bishop? Apart from the fact he split the Anglican community here bitterly along nationality lines many years ago, he has just a tiny handful of congregation members. Cayman can be a very odd place when it comes to anything to do with religion.

    • Anonymous says:

      I was wondering the exact same thing….BISHOP Sykes?????? good grief

      • MANOR1 says:

        Why do some people not understand the term no?

      • Anonymous says:

        I don't know who Bishop Sykes is and could care less but it is a bitlike attacking a rape victim when they have been raped to assasinate the character of someone who is trying to do some good in the community.  No matter what he has done or hasn't done has no bearing on this issue.  Why do Caymanians have to attack people people's personality and bring up personal issues about people all the time?  Especially when it has no bearing on the issue.

         

        Anyway, back to the topic.  It is a major health issue to have quarry dust all over the place.  What about children with asthma, allergies, sinus, etc.?  The quarry dust will aggravate that.  Dust is bad any way that you take it.  We are not suposed to be inhaling that day after day.  

        What about cisterns?  The dynamiting will crack them and also will crack the houses.

        This is a residential area and as such that application should not even be considered.

    • H.M. says:

      FYI, Nicholas Sykes is a pioneer, a man that has dedicated his life for many years to the Lord and the Cayman Islands community, something that many of us including yourself should do or follow. Sykes is outspoken. What other ministers do you see that refuse to hide behind their pulpits and speak out?  Nicholas Sykes at least is outspoken with his conservative views.  

    • Anonymous says:

      I think it’s wrong for you to speak against Rev. Nickolas sykes in a negative way. If people want to follow Rev. Sykes, I’d say they are following an individual that not only is a child of God but a trusted man indeed.

      Also People choose their own leadership. No one can split a church.

      People are always free to make choices about who they want to follow, and the church remains. I saw this happen at age 13. I’m now up in age, so trust me, Rev. Sykes nor no one else can split a church. He can set up church wherever God leads him and God will send him people to support him like everyone else. That is not a “Split” as you suggest.
      Religion has nothing to do with Mahogany Estates sostick to the real topic.