Dilberts at fault over marina

| 23/06/2014

(CNS): Responding to criticisms by the owners of the Alexander Hotel on Cayman Brac that Cabinet did not require an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the two other marina proposals on the island as it did their own, Environment Minister Wayne Panton has explained that the Department of Environment (DoE) felt that it could predict and understand the impact of the two applications by MMCB Ltd and recommend ways to mitigate those impacts. With the proposal by the Dilbert family, on the other hand, the DoE found a number of red flags that “indicate a level of complexity and scope that a responsible decision maker would want to understand much better before making any final decisions”. The minister said the difficulty with the Dilbert application and the reasons it has not progressed rest squarely with the applicant and those advising him.

Panton told CNS that Cabinet received the two coastal works licence applications by MMCB just weeks after receiving the Dilbert’s application regarding their proposal to turn Saltwater Pond next to their hotel into a marina. And even though the DoE recommended against approval of the Dilbert application, on 25 March 2014, Cabinet granted an approval in principle subject to EIA being carried out “to provide further information to elaborate on and to determine whether there was any way to mitigate, the considerable negative impacts anticipated”.

Emphasising that the DoE is not a decision maker in such applications but act as advisors to the ministry and Cabinet, Minister Panton explained that an EIA is considered necessary when the scope, scale and complexity of an application requires far more in depth analysis, modeling and surveying that the DoE does not have the capacity, resources, expertise or capability to carry out themselves. There are instances in which an objective third party service provider may be desirable as well, he noted.

In relation to the Dilbert application, the environment minister said, just some of the factors in Cabinet’s decision to request an EIA are: the scope and size of the works proposed — the proposed channel is more than 700 feet long by 100 feet wide and 12 feet deep; it will cut through the only shallow water reef protected marine park (Replenishment Zone) in the Brac between the shore line and the reef; it will cut through and make a 100-foot wide opening in the fringing reef; it will proceed as a 12-foot deep by 100-foot wide channel into the Marine Park exterior to the reef; it is proposed to be lined by a breakwater which will be subjected to the force of open ocean swells and therefore the structural integrity ofthat is critical.

Additional factors considered by Cabinet were that under the Dilbert Marina proposal, a 100-foot channel would be cut through the public road that serves the south side of Cayman Brac “and in doing so the natural storm ridge which serves to minimise overtopping by storm surge in a hurricane will be breached and therefore opening up the area behind it to allow storm/tidal surge unfettered access to the natural drainage basin inland of the storm ridge.” Plus, he said, the channel would connect to a partially dredged pond, which may allow sedimentation to flow through the channel and out into the marine environment and on to relatively healthy reefs.

Furthermore, the minister noted that no data, analysis or drawings have been provided by the developer to demonstrate the bathymetry of the channel, the likely action of the water, the type of rock and whether, for example, blasting would be required, nor did they provide the structural specifications for the proposed breakwater.

“All of these factors indicate a level of complexity and scope that a responsible decision maker would want to understand much better before making any final decisions. To do otherwise and to suggest or attempt to cause an approval of such an application, as the leader of the opposition has attempted to do, is clearly reckless and irresponsible,” Panton stated. “Making reckless decisions could also lead to significant legal liability on the government for damages caused as a result.”

On the other hand, while coastal works application by MMCB for a lagoon on the North Coast near to Scotts Dock is in a marine park, he said, the channel footprint proposed there is in much deeper water than that for most of the Dilbert application. It is also substantially smaller in that the dimensions are only 30-foot by 144-foot and out to a water depth of 11 feet, Panton said, noting that the amount of material that would be removed under the proposal is only a very small fraction of what would be removed from the reef and two separate Marine Parks under the Dilbert application.

“As a consequence, the DoE feels quite comfortable in predicting and understanding the impact and recommending ways to mitigate the impact of this application and therefore an EIA would not be required,” Panton stated.

“While the south side application by MMCB Ltd is significantly larger in scale and scope than its north side application, it is nevertheless significantly smaller in scope and scale than the Dilbert application,” he pointed out.

Some of the factors which enabled the DoE to conclude that an EIA would not be required for this application were: the proposed marina basin is within the reef protected bay and does not impact the reef; the footprint for the proposed basin overlays an area that has previously been dredged to allow navigation and therefore there is no pristine marine environment; and the proposed depth of this basin is relatively shallow at just 8 feet and the area currently has depths of between 4.5 to 7.5 feet with an average around 5 feet.

“In light of this and other factors, the DoE felt comfortable, as it did for the north coast application, that it could predict and understand the impact and recommend ways to mitigate the impact of this application,” the minister stated. “Both applications by MMCB Ltd were dealt with weeks after the decision was made in the Dilbert application and in fact the time between application and decision was as long as or longer than the time in respect of the Dilbert application.

“From a socioeconomic perspective, the decisions to move forward with all three of the ‘marina’ applications were based on the strongly held views of much of the Cayman Brac community that they wanted to see this happen as planks in the level of economic activity they felt necessary for the Brac.

“The difficulty with the Dilbert application and the reasons it has not progressed are not the fault of the government. They rest squarely with the applicant and those advising him, unfortunately,” the minister stated.

As an example, Panton said that when his ministry sent a letter to Cleveland Dilbert on 3 April letting him know that his application had been the approved in principle and requesting a response within 21 days whether he wished to proceed with an EIA, rather than responding the developer “proceeded to arrange a meeting in Cayman Brac at which he convinced 21 prominent members of the Cayman Brac community to sign a letter demanding support of his application for the channel and marina basin in the pond”.

The minister said, “Subsequent to that letter, the applicant obviously engaged with the leader of the opposition to bring a surprise motion, purportedly as a matter of extreme public importance, to attempt to have the decision of Cabinet obviated and replaced by a resolution of Parliament to approve the application without any environmental impact assessment. The resolution was changed to require an EIA to be carried out.

“Underlying all of these machinations was the fact that the applicant had consistently indicated that he did not think an EIA was necessary, that he would not pay for an EIA and so has seemingly been in search of a way to avoid it. Subsequent to the approval in principle by Cabinet subject to an EIA being carried out and the resolution of the LA which took the same position, the applicant changed his stance slightly and indicated in writing that since government wanted the EIA as a condition, he felt that government should pay for it and ‘upon an approved and issued Coastal Works Licence’ he would then be willing to reimburse the government for up to CI$60,000 of its costs. That obviously would not be acceptable to the government in the circumstances either,” Panton said.

“However, I am pleased that the applicant has now publicly stated that he will pay to have an EIA conducted and I can confirm that we are ready to move forward quickly and assist him in engaging an appropriate consultant who can work to resolve the appropriate terms of reference and carry out the work in accordance with those terms.”

The minister stated, “It is only through an appropriate science-based analytical assessment that the Cabinet may have the information it would need to consider whether to give final approval to this application. If the applicant wishes his application to proceed further he must engage now in good faith in the EIA process and not allow himself to be misguided by others, some of whom have years of failure underlining their history of trying to avoid proper process.”

See below the DoE technical review of all three Brac coastal works applications.

Related articles on CNS:

Three marina plans for Brac

DoE: Dilbert marina 'flawed'

Dilbert Marina flooding fears

Mac moves marina motion

Mac furious over marinas
 

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Comments (24)

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  1. Cimboco says:

    Lalalalalalalalala.  Like a baby that lost his pacifier. He knew it was a bird sanctuary and should not have built right at its edge. That was a dumb move. However, it does look bad that a foreigner, who HAS MONEY, came in and got approved with the other marinas. Everybody knows who that is so there is no need to mention name. We have our own DART over here and guess what people? …….Brackers ARE LETTING IT HAPPEN!  Ha, but I bettcha if our DART wanted to do a marina where Dilbert wants to…… hey $$$$$ count in the Cayman Islands. Hey and guess what…….the Brac IS part of the CAYMAN ISLANDS! lol!

    • O'Really? says:

      No. Please do mention names.  I am fed up with all the innuendo. That goes for just about any news item.  We all "know" except for those of us who actually don't.  Please enlighten us.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Cleveland and Sons were on Cayman Complaint this morning whining about the "injustice" that the Government has done to them. Cleveland and McKeeva admits that this marina application was started from 2009. If this was such a great idea from the start, why has it taken so long and has come to this point?

     

    It cant be that this PPM Govt is out to get Cleveland and his family or ruin his hotel. Why was the marina not progressed during the previous UDP Administration? If McKeeva is NOW so supportive of the marina application, as the former Premier from 2009 – 2012, 1,095 days and some more (until Dec 2012), why did his Cabinet not just grant Cleveland approval to do the channel and the marina??

     

    Mr. Cleveland, as you have given you view on every other point about this Govt's actions, please explain to us why McKeeva's Govt did not give you approval while McKeeva was Premier for over 3 years?

  3. Anonymous says:

    How is MMCB Ltd any different from Dart purchasing loads of land in Cayman Brac with the intentions of developing it ?  Keep an eye on this company too.

    • Anonymous says:

      8;27

      What is your point?

      You coming off like you want to stop all development in the Brac!

    • Anonymous says:

      MMCB is welcome here and will support the effort.

      Hoefully this will happen,  look to the future it is 2014 and we must move forward.

       

       

  4. anonymous says:

    The only reason why MacKeeva is supporting Dilbert is because its against the PPM and Gina Ebanks. No other reason!!  Mr. Panton do not allow these people to force you to make decisions that will be detromental to our Environment, just for the love of Greed. Dilbert knew all of this long before he built his hotel by the smelly pond. He grew up in the Brac and know the history.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well done Wayne.  I am proud and happy that you have withstood the pressure of do something foolish.  Your honesty and integrity was why I voted for you and if you continue on that path, I will certainly be voting for you again.  Thank you too Gina and Scott for having the backbone to stand up and advise Cayman that it was not in the country's best interest to do a Marina there.  Lord knows what would have happened on the next occasion a hurricane passed by.

  6. Anonymous says:

    why is there no objection to a marina in a marine park?  What am I mising on that one?  

    • Anonymous says:

      I assume you mean the north coast marina proposal. In that report the marine park is the first Environmental Impact flagged. The second point is 'direct loss of marine communities'. Seems pretty clear to me. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Its not that there is no objection, but that the smaller the project the smaller the objection. Want to see objections? Try building a cruise port. (Maybe in Red Bay. Or East End.)

      • Anonymous says:

        Aaah. In East End. You mean like the mega-quarry that Imparato woud leave a huge a hole in the ground? 

  7. Anonymous says:

    Crying and whining doesnt get results Cleveland

  8. Anonymous says:

    About time someone in Government stood up for Cayman's environment and eco-system! The wildlife are just as important as anyone living here in the Cayman Islands. The animals don't have a voice so we have to speak for them.

    Thank you Mr. Panton and keep up the good work!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I personally think a marina is a good idea at this spot (with a much smaller channel) but It's obvious that Dilbert was promised some kind of deal by people who can't deliver now. Tough luck, though it sounds like he doesn't have the money to actually do the marina on his own.

  10. Henry says:

    At last! Now put it to rest Mr. Dilbert.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Let be honest here, Dilbert prior to building the hotel new there was a smell in the pond, as was told by loads of people not to build on that location, however being one of the richest brac families believe he would be granted by friendship the marina. As far as I'm am concerned XXXX he should have built on some of his other land…

    • Gut Check says:

      Righteo.   

      He bought the land and existing mini-mall cheaply, because the previous owner wanted to take his monies elsewhere.   So it goes.  

      Now, Mr. Dilbert wants to cause the existing government to cover his costs to build a marina that will not even save his business, at the cost of untold environmental detriments.    

      Everyone else builds a hotel on beach land —- they pay extra for the beach land, and they prosper.  Mr. Dilbert chose to build inland on the (alleged) promises of a govermental entitity who is no longer in charge.   

      Again, so it goes.   I myself, would never purchase nor build on the promises of a politician, however I am simply a lowly carpenter, and not privvy to the inner workings of insider politics, nor do I want to be.   Tigres be there.

      • Anonymous says:

        Expecially a Cayman Islands polititan, how could he be so nieve to think the CIG would keep thier word. Everyone knows that the new will alway try to undo or outdo the last one..

         

        Anyone would be stupid to make any choices bassed on promises from the CIG they are worth thier weight in Doo Doo.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Department of Environment has consistantly vigoursly opposed every development on all three islands that has ever been proposed. Take a look around Grand Cayman and a blind man on a galloping horse can see that everywhere that had been dredged here the water is cleaner, clearer and supports much more marine life. To name a few, Rum Point / Cayman Kai, Salt Creek, Governor's Harbour, Crystal Harbour, Safe Haven, Palm Heights, Omega Bay, Patrick's Island, North Sound Estates, etc., etc. Visit these areas and you will see an abundance of juvenile fish, lobsters, crabs etc, whereas before they were dredged these areas were void of any kind of marine life apart from turtle grass. The head of the DOE refuses to change her old archaic way of thinking. I would suggest that she take a visit to the Islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, Mexico, just 325 miles west of Grand Cayman. These two Islands with similar makeup and characteristics as the Cayman Islands both have marinas that were man made, they were carved out of the shoreline exactly as the Dilberts propose to do in the Brac and they are now beautiful healthy basins of water supporting an abundance of marine life. I know first hand as I've been there and seen it for myself. It's pathetic when our MLA's take advice from people that refuse to change their old archaic opinions even when it is proven that their way of thinking is obsolete.

    DoE’s RESPONSE:

    The statements made by the author of this comment are factually inaccurate on a number of counts. It is a matter of record that the DoE has not “opposed every development on all three islands that has ever been proposed” and it is simply incorrect to state that the water in all the previously dredged areas mentioned is “cleaner, clearer and supports much more marine life”.  It is an established scientific fact that seagrass communities support one of the highest levels of diversity and abundance of marine life of all marine communities. While it is true that it is possible to find juvenile fish and lobsters in these previously dredged areas, this is not because the dredging has caused the area to be more productive, but because these species have been displaced from their natural habitats (particularly seagrass and mangroves) which have been removed by the dredging in the first place. This is similar to someone claiming that placing an artificial reef or Fish Attracting Device (FAD) on a sand plain produces fish when in fact fish from the surrounding area are attracted to the three-dimensional nature of the structure and are drawn from surrounding areas.

    The writer also fails to point out the wider extent of degradation in environmental quality that has resulted from these previous dredging projects. The cumulative loss of mangroves and seagrass beds means there is less habitat available for juvenile fish and other marine life and has also reduced the overall productivity in North Sound. Today, sediment from past dredging in North Sound is continually re-suspended by even mild wave action and small vessels, negatively impacting seagrass, coral reef and mangrove communities in North Sound.  Since the 1980’s the DoE has monitored many of the dredged areas mentioned and 30 years later, while some of the shallower areas (6’-8’) have stabilised with relatively clear water, many of them show little to no signs of real biological recovery with low diversity and abundance of life. The DoE’s water quality monitoring programme shows elevated levels of nutrients at the mouth of all canal systems and canals like the Palm Heights canal are completely anoxic for over two-thirds of its length. The long-term effects of all of these impacts on marine resources have resulted in the total prohibition of dredging in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and strict permitting rules and regulations elsewhere in State waters. The coastal shelf around the Cayman Islands is extremely narrow making the productive area of our nearshore waters infinitesimally small compared with the coastal shelf of Florida, the Bahamas or even the Yucatan Peninsula.  The DoE’s recommendations on coastal development have always been with a view to ensuring the sustainability of our limited resources.  Finally, the DoE has never opposed the creation of a safe harbour on the Brac – the DoE’s concerns with the Dilbert proposal are related to its location. The proposal does not involve a basin being “carved out of the shoreline” but the excavation of a sediment-laden coastal pond (which is important component of a major wetland drainage basin) connected to the ocean by a 100’ wide channel on a high energy coastline.

  13. Anonymous says:

    At last the truth is out. Dilbert follow the rules and stop damaging Cayman Brac with your actions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also thank you Govt. for being principled in following due process without fear or favor….which is why you will be yelled at by those who have been used to making cavalier decisions to gain votes.