Archive for December 4th, 2012

Bush and Simmonds come face to face

| 04/12/2012 | 32 Comments

bush n simmonds (472x500).jpgCNS): The Cayman Islands premier and the UK’s overseas territories minister came face to face on Monday for the first time since the two men were engaged in avery public disagreement over the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility and the negotiations with China Harbour Engineering Company. Having met briefly in September, McKeeva Bush and Mark Simmonds met for the second time at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) ahead of the Joint Ministerial Council meeting in London, when they engaged in a head to head meeting. The smiles hide what is still a tense relationship between Cayman and the FCO.

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East End facing major change

| 04/12/2012 | 38 Comments

burning veg pic.jpg(CNS): The owner of the land surrounding the site of the planned Cayman Health City has submitted a major planning application of his own for a 132 acre master-planned community next to the hospital in High Rock, East End. The PAD application made by City Services, which is owned by Joseph Imparato, will include “hotels, multiple residential areas, commercial buildings, retail outlets and restaurants and civic buildings such as schools, recreational facilities and places of worship”, according to a press release.  If it goes ahead, the development, coupled with the Shetty project, will bring major changes to Grand Cayman’s least developed area of coast line.

Imparato had originally sought to build a controversial commercial seaport on the land, which saw significant opposition across the entire island before a decision was made to sell part of the site to Dr Devi Shetty. This proposed project is not directly connected to the hospital but is being described as supporting infrastructure.

The plans were submitted on Thursday, 29 November, but several months ago the owner began clearing the site around the hospital, stripping away a considerable amount of local flora and burning the vegetation.  While the team undertaking the hospital development in the area have stated that no environmental impact assessment will be undertaken on the first phase of the Shetty project, it is not clear if City Services will be doing an EIA on that site.

inside pic imparato site.jpgDespite the onslaught on the trees, shrub and what was described by the Department of Environment as “primary habitat”, the developer is claiming green credentials for the development. In the release Imparato stated that the design of City Services’ master plannedcommunity reflects careful attention to the density, height and scaling and draws on “the character of the site”, with the tallest and densest development located in the centre farthest away from the main coastal road.

The project will have green spaces and community areas and, according to the release, the PAD application reflects five times the amount of community space required by law. The current planning law requires that 5% of the development be allocated for community space but the City Services application includes some 25% of the area, or nearly 33 acres, instead of the required 6.5 acres, designated as community space, which will be used for parklands, a community playground, a seafront Boulevard along Seaview Road and natural green and water buffers to the adjoining land owners.

"We asked our architects to be mindful of the adjacent properties and to create proper setbacks and buffers which can be seen on the perimeter of the site plan,” Imparato said.
The master plan also proposes the use of Sea Water Air Conditioning (SWAC) as another way to maintain the development’s environmentally conscience design by utilizing a renewable source of energy to provide air conditioning and power to the project, the developer indicated in the release.

Imparato stated that the project lends itself to potential partnerships and joint ventures for the hotels, residential communities, retail and restaurants. “We look forward to working with local companies and investors who want to get involved,” he said.

Describing himself as a long term resident and developer, Imparato said he was committed to the Cayman Islands and was optimistic that with fiscal discipline and careful, long term investments, the economy would recover. “As a developer, I always see the glass as half full and never half empty," he added.

The plans, which were submitted with a fee of $66,000 and do not request any duty waivers or other concessions, are available for review and inspection at the planning department.

“This PAD application represents the largest of several projects we currently have underway,” Imparato said. City Services is currently constructing Caribbean Plaza on West Bay Road, Dolphin Point Condos in West Bay, Rum Point Club Condominiums in Cayman Kai, and refurbishments of the old Caymania Building in George Town and Trafalgar place on West Bay Road.

“We currently have a lot of work either already underway or soon to start in the New Year," he stated.  “Subject to the necessary approvals, we will get people back to work in early 2013 as we start the site preparation and preliminary roads infrastructure work at High Rock.”

See more details of the proposed project below.

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Lawyer’s law goes public

| 04/12/2012 | 37 Comments

law-wig-books-specs.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands premier has said that, after twenty years of continuous complaints regarding the inequalities faced by Caymanians in local law firms, his government is committed to pushing through a modernized legal practitioner’s bill early in the New Year to manage the legal profession and protect local lawyers. In a statement about the new draft bill, which is now open for public review, McKeeva Bush said it “must be the basis of any representations made” during the consultation process. In the face of a drawn out impasse between legislators and lawyers, he said the continuation of the status quo was not in the best interest of the country or the legal profession.

Over two years ago the attorney general held a meeting with members of the Cayman Islands Law Society, the Caymanian Bar Association, members of the Legislative Assembly and other attorneys to discuss the status and implementation of the proposed Legal Practitioners Bill.

Bush said that there was a failure to reach any consensus at that meeting as legislators were unwilling to further any discussions on the bill without a resolution to the historic conflicts within the profession regarding the training, advancement and integration of Caymanians within firms. In addition, there were concerns from local attorneys about some law firms exporting Cayman legal jobs abroad to satellite offices, which they fear could one day see all Cayman legal services provided from other countries.

Since then, Theresa Pitcairn and Sherri Ann Bodden-Cowan have been reviewing the Legal Practitioners Bill and they have now produced a draft bill which, Bush said,  represents the culmination of some ten years of discussion.

"For over 20 years now, Caymanians have been complaining to their elected representatives and various immigration boards about the lack of equal training, integration and advancement opportunities within the firms, and they are still doing so,” Bush said in a statement released to accompany the proposed law.

He said that while government was seeking to protect young Caymanians, he warned that business must be able to function efficiently and successfully. “We have to strive for a balance, and make sure business is also sufficiently protected, for Cayman to survive. There are other jurisdictions that will be only too happy to get some of our business, so the government will find the right balance, recognizing amongst other factors that the practice of law, like most other areas of business, is now a global phenomenon.”

Bush said that the major offshore firms have lobbied governments as far back as 2003 to modernise the Legal Practitioners Law so that the profession can be regulated and policies can be developed to facilitate the continued growth and prosperity of the industry.

“These firms tell the politicians that they cannot expect to get instructions without an office in foreign jurisdictions; that same time zone, 'same day' advice is a must so that it is in Cayman’s best interest to be able to service international business with law firm offices in such overseas jurisdictions,” Bush said, adding that the chief justice and the attorney general also want to see the law changed so that the profession can be properly regulated.

The premier said that once the consultation process was complete, he would hold discussions with the Cayman Bar Association and the Law Society before he put the consultation papers to Cabinet for the approval of a green bill, to be sent to the Legislative Assembly for passage.

“While the granting of articles has improved since 2009, with Maples alone giving 48 article clerkships, of paramount importance to a new law is provision for article clerkships. Access to article clerkships and upward progression of any willing, able and qualified Caymanian attorney and the future success of our financial services and law firms is my aim and objective,” Bush stated.

Feedback should be submitted directly to Teresa Pitcairn at jonanter@candw.ky no later than Friday 11 January.

See the draft bill, regulations and the premier’s full statement below.

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