CPA blocked eco-meeting

| 24/03/2014

(CNS): The Central Planning Authority (CPA) issued an order to planning officials not to attend an Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) meeting with the Department of Environment (DoE) regarding applications made by developers from the proposed Ironwood project in Frank Sound last year. This proposed $360 million development does not have planning permission but the investors, formally known as Eagle Assets, have successfully made a number of piecemeal sub-division applications very close to the Botanic Park and blue iguana re-settlement areas, raising concerns. In February 2013 the DoE called for planning staff and other relevant public officials to convene an EAB to discuss the potential size and impact of the project, however the CPA ordered them to stay away.

In a shocking indictment of how the current planning authority still regards environmental concerns in relation to development, the minutes from a February 2013 meeting reveal that the CPA believed that an environmental assessment board would undermine the planning process, despite the evidence before it that the project was continuing to grow. It said there was no need for an EAB because it had no standing and the authority did not want such a meeting.

The board then went on to direct planning staff – public sector workers paid for by the public purse – not to attend this meeting because if they did, it may look like they were representing the CPA’s wishes.

By this time, Eagle Assets had managed to get planning permission to sub-divide over 535 acres of land, all of it very close to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park. However, having managed to get permission piecemeal, it was the DoE which raised concerns that the project was emerging into a major development but that the cumulative impact was not being considered, especially given its proximity to the park and the potential threat posed. The DoE recommended a planned area development (PAD) application be made, which was ignored by the CPA.

In its notes to the CPA while the application was before the authority in October 2012, the DoE said it was very concerned about the cumulative impact and “the lack of comprehensive consideration” of the wider project plans, as this was the third parcel of land in the vicinity of the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park that was the subject of a subdivision application by Eagle Asset Investments of well over 500 acres.  

“We understand that the current application for a two-lot subdivision is potentially going to be developed into a golf course. However, to simply seek planning permission for a series of subdivisions on this scale, to facilitate future uses, is considered inappropriate. The mix, type and location of the various land uses being proposed by the applicant should be comprehensively assessed in order to ensure that uses are appropriately located within the context of a number of considerations,” the environmental officials stated.

The DoE listed issues regarding supporting infrastructure, the general environment, the commercial viability against the potential environmental damage, as well as its impact on the park and the areas where the critically endangered blue iguana were being released.

The department recommended a PAD application rather than a series of piecemeal subdivisions, which they said could not be assessed comprehensively, to ensure that any future development is appropriate, necessary, economically viable, sustainable and based on sound planning principles.

“This approach is not unusual or ground breaking; it is common practice worldwide and is not intended to serve as a tool to prevent development but to ensure that development is planned and carried out in a way which does not compromise current or future generations", the DoE stated, all of which was ignored by the CPA.

The DoE pointed out that, despite earlier advice from the DoE regarding the significant adverse impact on the blue iguanas, the application had been approved and the original protective buffer of 40 feet had been subsequently reduced by the CPA after an application to modify it down to a mere 15 feet.

Government has now offered its wholehearted support to the project, having signed an MOU to extend the east-west arterial to the project, which has raised even more issues regarding the environment, National Trust land and many other issues.

The premier and planning minister have stated that the developer will be required to undertake an EIA. Nevertheless, as the National Conservation Law continues to gather dust in the ministerial corridors because the ministry of planning and agriculture has still not made the necessary legislative changes to other laws, there are no guarantees that the Botanic Park, the blue iguanas, the critical wetlands, water lens and other important habitat in the area, as well as the Mastic Trail and Reserve will be protected.

See relevant minutes below.

DoE concerns are located under 2.6 on pages 34-36 of 24 October 2012 minutes and the order issued by the CPA banning planning staff from the Environmental Assemssment Baord meeting can be seen under 6.7 on page 73 of the 6 February 2013 minutes.

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Comments (58)

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  1. Fore-progress and proper forecast says:

    This is just more red tape from someone with too much Red Tape.  They did their job before and now that the barriers have been removed…they want to block it again.

    They will have ample opportunity to do their job in the future in accordance with what the existing laws , regulations and oversight involved in the construction phase of this project.

    The developers make a proposal in accordance with the rules, you review it and you consider it then you say yes, no or request further compliance.

    You don't approve it, then say wait….I did not mean to approve all of that.  WTF !

    The way people sue the country around here I would not be surprised if a lawyer could not hold the country liable for millions.  

    The developer obviously have been working on this for years ….they have met the requirments now Planning want to back out ?

    The Chief (indian giver) should honour their agreement ! 

  2. Anonymous says:

    The fact that the chair of the CPA is also the owner of the biggest builders' supplies stores on the island says everything about the vested interests involved. It is not in the interest of the CPA to block developments, when the chair himself will profit from new builds.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks CNS for posting the documents albeit AFTER your sensationalized story resulted in a number of ill-informed comments.  Not only was the CPA advisory to staff/Board issued before the last election, it was issued well before the National Conservation Law was even enacted which meant that the they were correct !  The EAB did NOT have any legal basis at that time.  You should have made this clear in your original story or in an Addendum to the story.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Compromises will be made and it will go through…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Bring on the development!

    • Anonymous says:

      Give me some de elopement. Yeah. Oooooh, feals so good. Please respect me in the morning. 

    • Anonymous says:

      There is something of an irony here. I am all for conservation of local heritage, beauty spots etc. Even if most of it is swamp and woodland, that is the way our creator saw fit to make it, and who are we to judge? Ican even bend that view with a little "ok, if a project is for the overall good and the design is such as to give minimum impact to the natural surroundings". However, I watched a deeply concerning programme at the weekend on the ice melt in Greenland. The narrator was clearly shocked by what he was shown and how much ice has gone in recent years, and how quickly it continues to disappear. As a result, It is only a matter of 20-50 years before we will be wishing that we have converted this island into a place surrounded by 30 foot concrete sea defense walls. The expected sea rise is going to be 25 foot at a minimum…bye bye most of Cayman. Time to start thinking about more important things methinks.

  6. Anonymous says:

    All I have to say is, if the DoE and other members of the public have the brass to stand with the National Trust on this issue I will also be there! It is time Caymanians have the nerve to stand firm against what we do not agree with in our country!  It is clear we cannot trust politicians so lets stand together.

    • armani says:

      I hope you all apply that same patriotic behavior whenever we read about gun crimes and bularies in the media…..which is destroying this great country of ours…

  7. Turtle Stew says:

    When the UDP administration was in I kind of expected this type of behavior from them as this was what their administration was based on self and greed and not for country. I mean a hyena is a hyena no matter how you dress them up.

    Now the ppm administration with the exception of minister Eden campaigned they were making this country safer, a transparent government, a fair country and even went as far as passing the NCL. Now they intend to destroy that so many worked tireless to save such as the blue iguana. What kind of government do we have when the environment is placed last on the list? 

    So we create jobs and wealth by destroying what is remaining of cayman's natural forest and indigenous fauna and wild life. How can so many law, accounting and banks over the years donate millions of dollars to save the blue iguanas yet they sit on the side lines and allow the CPA and government to forced their position? If it was my money I would be pissed and most of all who is going to stand up for the environment? 

    I beg you lawyers, accountants and bankers make a stand and let's protect what's left for our future generations. If not then I call on the Queen to step in and save this country from the hands of our politicians.

    God save our Queen!

    • Anonymous says:

      It was the UDP check the date!,

    • Anonymous says:

      Please stop the exageration this in no way will destroy the Mastic reserve or the endangered Blue Iquanas. It's only a small part of the reserve that will be effected. Having direct road access to the reserve will actually enhance it and attract more tourists to the site..

    • Anonymous says:

      in february 2013 the PPM had NOT been elected as the Government.  The Govt of the time was the remnants of the UDP. Mark Scotland was a Minister in Fb2013 and he was also the Roads Engineer when the roadway path was gazetted in 2005.

    • Anonymous says:

      Seriously…you think the queen cares about us???? I doubt she can spell "Cayman".

      We need to have develpment and inward investment now so that YOU CAN HAVE SOMETHING to leave for your kids….otherwise they will all have to move to Miami to get a job.

      Just dont be silly…..please.

       

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can anyone actually define what the role of the Planning Department is supposed to be? It is obviously not to provide technical Planning advice and guidance. What is the point of employing a Department of Planners (do they even have any qualified Planners?) who appear to have never heard of the concept of sustainable development, have no understanding of the purpose of a Development Plan and can't even sit on a board to provide technical advice and recommendations to decision-making bodies. Why would the CPA not want to take guidance or comments from their technical counterparts?? What a joke! The Country doesnt need to worry about scaring developers away, the CPA doesnt refuse any applications so developers know they will get whatever they want. Check out the Minutes. Can you find an application that has been refused?  I dont think so. Such a shame for future generations. Once the damage is done there is no turning back. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    THE CPA ACTED RIGHT

    The DOE is for ever trying to be Judge and Jury for development in this Island. I am for protecting trees and historic preservation but far too long these persons buy our land and we want to dictate to them what to do with it. Absolute rubbish. The CPA acted well in this instance. WELL DONE CPA AND CONTINUE THE GOOD JOB.

  10. Anonymous says:

    On page 347 of 'The Racketeer,' John Grisham put these words into the mouth of his hero:

    "We pass over Nevis and St Kitts in the distance. Those two islands have attractive banking laws too, and I considered them briefly,………..I considered the Cayman Islands, but learned that they are now terribly overbuilt." 

    • Anonymous says:

      …and? Is John Grisham writing Holy Writ? He can put whatever he wants in the mouths of his characters.

    • Anonymous says:

      lol, so a book of fiction yeah? The very same author who brought us The Firm yeah? OK, well I think that boat has already sailed.

  11. Anonymous says:

    For a country like ours, with arguably less environmental wealth than some of the other islands in the Caribbean (we don't have mountains, rivers, vast jungle, etc.) we certainly show a huge disregard for what we were blessed with.

     

    Huge developments on beaches with bright lights that affect turtle nesting and migration. Development in the sounds where our mangrove estuaries are – the same mangroves that protect us from hurricanes and keep our reefs thriving to sustain our billion dollar dive tourism. Just so sad that we have what we have and the government we've elected won't even entertain discussions over protecting it.

     

    What will happen to our island when we throw away what people escape their cities to come and see?! Do you honestly think that these tourists want to come to the Caribbean and disembark on an island that is one giant strip mall with no environmental considerations at all?

    • And Another Ting says:

      Shocking indictment, says CNS. Has there been any interview with thePlanning Chair to hear his opinion. It's all well and good to make the news sensational, but our country is much more than just media blitz and proper respect should be accorded., whatever and irrespective of  the medias personal opinion. Let us hear the whole story CNS not just the part that sweetens the readers.. Many thanks.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Something nasty happened  in 4he woodshed.

  13. Anonymous says:

    you can throw last week "corruption" speach out the window. smh

    • Anonymous says:

      Please take a look at the date of the minutes, this was done in Feb. 2013. I would say that this is stale news.

  14. pmilburn says:

    Typical CPA No thoughts for the environment PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Green Hornet says:

    I don't understand why everyone is so surprised. There is not one single representative of DOE, the National Trust or any other agency or organisation that is attempting to protect Cayman's environment on the board of the CPA. It's a bunch or realtors, developers, and good old boys who are intent on approving whatever development they see come before them. The concepts of balance and sustainability don't exist in their minds or their decisions.

    The organisation needs to be disbanded and replaced with one that represents fairness and the ability to take ALL factors into account when making decisions, not just ones that lines the pockets of the developers and their associates. Now there's a challenge for Alden and his lads….

    • Anonymous says:

      They have all been quite well fed by bulldozing the environment thank you very much

  16. Fore-progress and proper forecast says:

    " having managed to get permission piecemeal", it was the DoE which raised concerns that the project was "emerging" into a major development but that the cumulative impact was not being considered, especially given its proximity to the park and the potential threat posed.

    How typical it is to add more red tape….you looked at the projects indivdually and there is no problem..in fact every time you looked at the additional projects you considered the other projects (that's the planning process) …now that they have met and moved beyond the planning process…planning want to look at all again….how much red tape is enough…who should pay for it  ?

    The planning dept in doing double and triple work.  But it's easy to blame the developer who was to wise enough to jump through the hoops before hand and now..all of a sudden your seeing the big picture.

    It's easier to make this project happens if the requirments are met before, which was obviously the intent of the developer. Now "planning" want to look at it again…..

    MOVE…Get out of the Way…Your Job is done…or should have been.

    "emerging" …every planning application is "emerging". You often have to remove the restrictions of growth to get proper growth. They been removed now they want to come back again ?.

    Until the developer sells it's all "emerging" most development are done  "piecemeal" because you have to sell before you build. 

    Shame on you all….They are moving ahead and planning is moving backwards..smh

  17. Anonymous says:

    This project has been shrouded in lack of transparency from day one by this government. In the end the deal will be worse than the NRA agreement with dart.

    The Premier deliberately failed to acknowledge any possible conflict or impact to family lands whilst claiming the new road cannot be diverted WHY?

    Now CPA are not interested in the wider environmental concerns by Department of Environment or having a PAD application submitted so ask yourself this question WHY?

  18. Anonymous says:

    CPA is obviously biased because it is made up of contractors, building materials providors etc. All looking to get a piece of the pie.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Whoever called the shots for the Planning Board not to attend the meeting needs to be replaced and certainly some punishment must be due.  This cannot ppossibly be how the CPA is supposed to function.  I see anarchy in the near future on this rock.

  20. Gran Heffe says:

    ALDEN! KURT! Your love and respect is slowing but surely dwindling throughout your constituency as well as island wide! You actually had the nerve to bash Mac for his way of doing business yet do EXACTLY the same! time for the young eco conscience, yet marginalized young Caymanians to stick their necks out there and run for office. These folks have one foot in the grave and seem not to care what happens to the kids of tomorrow. These politicians have expired their tenure and should all be replaced by young (under 40) men and women with long term vision other than financial gain and huge developements that never TRULY benefit future generations and the continued sustanability of these islands. Please dont compare this project to Caymana Bay because honestly speaking Caymana Bay turned out to be a charm! To you elder Caymanians stop voting in these familiar faces just because someone in your family knows them – they have done nothing for you over the years – give the young men and women a chance to revive the TRUE CAYMAN ISLANDS (near zero crime and unity between all)

    • Anonymous says:
       
       

       

    • Anonymous says:



      I think you need to go back AND READ THE STORY AGAIN. All of what is being described happened BEFORE the election. Sorry nitwit!

  21. Anon says:

    I have a hard time reading these CNS reports recently. They reek of the same bias and scandal they supposedly advocate against.

    That being said, this whole project stinks. Everyone screaming 'need', 'need', 'need' because all they're hearing is 'money, money, money'. Just a bunch of headless chickens, running around without a damn clue. 

  22. Gut Check says:

    We (as a country) had better get this right.    This appears to be a pivotal project that if not done with profound consideration for the environment, could result in a detriment to the environment that we cannot fix.   

    All of the entities which have jurisdictional participation had better start working together to solve this dilemma instead of using the departmental divide which has gotten us to this place.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Shocked to hear that a  Government Board gave directions to civil servants! I wonder if the civil servants conformed to these instructions, if so even more shocking.  DG better get out that management Law and amend it again.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Why not try an unbiased approach to reporting anything that relates to the CPA process or the DoE? Better yet, please try to get some proper advice on the planning process that exists under the Development and Planning Law and local case law, as well as the basic fundamental rules of administrative law that apply to such proceedings under common law acrossthe Commonwealth. Once you do, you will realize that as much as one might want to "do the right thing" and jump on the DoE bandwagon (since, after all, they are the good guys, eh?), there is an established legitimate process for dealing with planning applications that actually prevents the CPA from being unduly influenced by any external entity (see Ebanks vs. the Central Planning Authority as reported in the Cayman Islands Law Reports) in their function as a quasi-judicial decision maker. The CPA is taking the appropriate course here, otherwiseany decision it makes would appear to be influenced or prejudiced by the usual rhetoric that would no doubt issue from this so called Eco-meeting. After all, the case law says that the rule against bias is not about whether there is actual bias, but whether there is the appearance of bias.

    In fact, accusing the CPA of impropriety here would be, by analogy, similar to accusing a Judge of impropriety for not attending a meeting of some of the witnesses of an upcoming trial that he would preside over.

    Its bad enough that we seem to already have a society that doesn't care about legal process, but we definitely don't need the media misinforming the public about what obtains at Law with regards to such proceedings.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well spoken 8;46

      I hope that puts to bed, the rhetoric of the obstructionist on this thread.

    • Anonymous says:

      AS the CPA is made up of builders, contractors or their close families there already is an "appearance of bias".

    • Anonymous says:

      You sound fancy. 

    • Anonymous says:

      ah, but it was Planning, not the CPA, that was invited. So this was like the judge telling the police that they couldn't talk to the doctor before deciding what had killed the patient, to use your quasi-judicial analogy.

  24. Anon says:

    Who is the individual who gave that order? If it was an individual who wanted to add a bedroom/bathroom to their existing house, planning would insist on every "I being dotted and every T crossed".  But they don't want to be a part of any environmental concerns. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Its not planning interest to be concerned with the environmental issues.

      • Anon says:

        It is Planning that gives building approval isn't it? How can they not be concerned with the environment? 

  25. Anonymous says:

    Makes me sick for the total lack of regard these developers have for our country and for our blue iguana.  This blatant inconsideration is exactly the reason I believe those who care should unite and stop this atrocity from happening.  Who do they think they are to just come here and start making demands from our people?  This is our island and we need to draw a clear mark on the ground and protest these developers.  After the tireless work of many, many people to keep our blue iguana alive they want to build a road for people to run over them, lead stary dogs, chickens and green iguanas into the eastern districts, without even a bat of an eye or environmental assessment with suggestions to mitigate exactly the things I have mentioned above.  Come on people!  Most probably do not care as it does not directly affect them but this wil lset presendence for others if we do not stand up now.  

  26. Anonymous says:

    Bottom line is the CPA has ZERO standards, environmental, design or otherwise.  Practically EVERY project gets railroaded through regardless of the merits or much needed restrictions.

    IN MY OPINION "to ensure that development is planned and carried out in a way which does not compromise current or future generations" basically means keep all the gains in the developers pockets XXXXX for THEIR future generations.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Moral – money and political connections wins over environmental considerations every time.

    This is just the latest in a long history of perverse decisions that have allowed developers to literally steamroller their plans through regardless of the damage they cause.

     

  28. Anonymous says:

    Greed. It's all about what the people in power can get for themselves NOW and to hell with the future generations and the environment. Do not the leaders of our country know that they are slowly but surely killing off our children's future??? Can they not understand the concept of preserving what we have, making it pristine and sought after by visitors, thus protecting our environment AND an economic future for our kids?? I am disgusted.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Camana Bay all over again..

    • Anonymous says:

      So what is wrong with Camana Bay?????…a Beautiful Development that all can visit for all Occasions.  This place use to be a swamp area with nothing but mosquitos.  Get a Life and stop your stupid remarks.

  30. Anonymous says:

    The stench surrounding this project gets worse and worse. There are clearly some serious vested interests driving this forward. At whatever the cost and come hell or high water.

    • Anonymous says:

      What stench? The stench of blocking development for the sake of scoring political points?