Planning law trouble

| 31/10/2014

(CNS): A package of changes to the planning law saw the independent members railing against them in the Legislative Assembly this week. The MLAs said the amendments would help big developers but do nothing to assist locals. The restrictions on objections to development, along with the removal of polling for major projects and giving the minister theability to waive fees and give concessions, while imposing new fees on small homeowners, among other issues, were described as “an abomination” by the member for East End. While the independent members won an important victory to get the regulations approved by parliament, the changes will still have far reaching negative implications, they warned.

Described the changes as a package of measures to modernize the law and improve efficiency, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts removed significant chunks of the law and transfer them to the regulations. He also repealed a number of important restrictions and requirements that had helped to control major developments. The removal of polling people around an area where a developer is making an application for a major project and the power of the planning minister to change the law to accommodate a developer as he sees fit, were described as very worrying.

Although changes to the planning regulations will now require the approval of parliament and not just Cabinet, the significance of the changes to the law and the placement of many elements in those regulations still caused immense concern. MLAs Arden McLean (East End)and Ezzard Miller (North Side) warned that the changes had gone virtually under the radar of public attention and were very dangerous.

Ahead of the vote, government confirmed it was repealing a change made by the previous government that had placed the power to make and change regulations with Cabinet, returning the power to the Legislative Assembly. But the government still made significant transfers from the law to the regulations that have not yet been made public.

Convinced there was an ulterior motive, McLean said he wondered who was driving the changes. He said all of them were beneficial to major developers and the ones that impacted local smaller property owners were detrimental.

“The country doesn’t derive anything from these large developments,” he said. When the UDP entered into the development agreement with Dart, ultra vires of the law, Cabinet did not have the right to waive the infrastructure fees, but they did, he said. “The public purse lost tens of millions of dollars as a result,” McLean added.

The East End member said that the country had had a runaway government with the UDP and now had another one with the coalition, and he wondered if it was entering into a new “giveaway deal with Dart.” He asked, “Who is pushing these changes? There are no secrets in this country.”

McLean said he wanted to find out who would benefit but that the record of public consultation for the bill may reveal that. “Perhaps we will know.”

He made it clear he believed there was an agenda for major developers to make it easier for them to do what they wanted without due consideration to Cayman’s needs or the costs to the wider community. 

“This is some dangerous piece of legislation and this is going to cause problems in the country,” he said, warning that with the zoning flexibility the law was facilitating people would be making applications for commercial activity in the heart of residential neighbourhoods. But, he added, homeowners would be restricted from objecting.

“It should never be case that after you develop in a residential area that someone can come and develop a use clearly contrary to that without getting the consent of the people,” McLean said.

Blaming Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush as well, McLean pointed to the ForCayman Investment Alliance with Dart and said Bush had started “this rubbish we have to face today … with this substance over process to stimulate the economy”.

McLean pressed the point that he believed everything to control large development was being removed, creating “a free for all for large developments”, which gave regular people nothing.

“We don’t benefit; we just get the strain on the infrastructure to accommodate these large developments. They need to pay for the strain and the enhanced infrastructure required to operate it but when we waive the fees there is nothing left to pay.”

Ezzard Miller also raised concerns about who the amendments were designed to help. He pointed out that parliament was supposed to oversee planning matters to protect the people’s interest and government’s institutions were failing. With the repeal of these protections for big developers, he asked what possible assurances he could now give his constituents that their interest was being protected.

“This country should have a proper development and economic plan and any investor must meet the requirements. It cannot be right for us to pass legislation … that the Cabinet can change to suit a developer,” he said. “If we have to waive so many fees to make a development profitable to the developer, than we don’t need it.”

Miller said there was no benefit to locals from most major developments that do not create local work but generate more work permits. Even worse, as a legislator, he would be forced to vote more taxes to pay for the extensive infrastructure support these developments require when fees are waived.

As both members pondered the source of the changes and implied it was for Dart, the islands’ largest developer, investor and land owner, the premier categorically denied the allegations.

During his contribution to the debate Alden McLaughlin said the package had nothing to do with the struggling Dart negotiations. He took aim at McLean for the accusations he was making and attack on the integrity of the government, and in particular the planning minister.

Although the draft of the planning law amendments went through the 21 day public consultation period during Thursday’s committee hearing, the bill went through a catalogue of changes and the new draft is not yet available to the public.

See original amendments below.

Category: Politics

Comments (49)

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  1. Prospect Panic-Developer stealing LPP says:

    Anyone living in the Bonnieview Estates please contact Dept of Planning ASAP.  The neighbors only have until November 12th to file an objection to 24e478 (Waterfront Land for Public Use) LPP currently a peaceful canal front  park off Prospect Drive & Bay Island Avenue LPP being turned over to a developer's hands.

    This peaceful "park"  is kept clean by the neighbors (me)  and from our last Neighborhood Watch meeting, over 22 home owners VOTED and said that they would like to have this park turned into a permanent park so the LPP cannot be changed!

    If you know  someone that lives on Rockcrest, Loch Lomond Way, Bonnie View Ave, Bay Island Ave. Morningside, Prospect Ave near Marina Drive please email pamela@thewebsterhouse.com

     

     

  2. Anonymous says:

    All of you keep doing your foolishness, Marco is the only popular and balanced poltician left. A very decent man to the bone that nobody can buy and who looks out for the people of these islands, rich or poor, all of us are the same to him.  He cares about his people and the country. Long Live and Reign Marco Archer!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Milburn, you're absolutely correct. The party system is not suited to the political landscape of the Cayman Islands and the entire public service system is broken as a result of the revolving-door political crap that we perpetuate every 4 years. The answer is enough people of high ethics, integrity and love for country to stand independently and firm against the Lodge and big business manipulation and cronyism which has hijacked our political system over the years. I hope for our children's sake that they're out there because they've been missing since Mr. Norman left public service. Bless him.  

  4. Anonymous says:

    CNS. Could you request a response from the Minuster (Kurt) who is responsible for this inequitable law please?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Here's a thought: The Government offers so many conveniences to these big developers so they may proceed with their grand projects to "better the country". 

    I encourage all members of the LA to simple get in their car (or have someone drive them) and pass by a good few of homes being constructed and observe what nationalities are working on those sites. Take those findings and figure out if the same major projects they are backing will reap any benefit to our true Caymanians during construction. 

    Way to look out for your own people dear LA.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Kurt!! We elected you to serve the interest of Caymanians NOT the interest of developers. You have clearly breached our trust in you. What did these developers give you that you would blatantly hurt your fellow Caymanians like this??

    • Anonymous says:

      Has he ever done anything for us?  It seems always Against Us!

    • Anonymous says:

      You are losing your luster Mr. Kurt, going down the same path as your rival years ago Tru Tru

      This election, come georgetown, we saving these things to show you.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The previous law required developers to consult neighboring land owners in a residential area prior to building something that was contrary to the residential zoning. With these changes developers will be permitted to put a toxic waste facility in a residential area and the residents would not be consulted. Not only that but from now on politicians will be allowed to ignore the law when it suits their developer buddies and financial backers. This new law is another indication that this government is working against the interests of ordinary Caymanians.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Kurt, this law hurt Caymanian property owners and only give enormous benefits to developers.  Your action in bringing this into law. WITHOUT any PUBLIC CONSULTATION indicates that you and/or the PPM got some big kickback from the developers. I thought you and the PPM were all about integrity. What happened to you??

    • Anonymous says:

      Enjoy next two years Kurt you dont get teh opportunity to do this to us again

  9. Anonymous says:

    These changes make no sense as they will allow the big developers to ignore all zoning requirements. That is worth a lot to the developers and sadly I suspect that someone involved with getting this passed will get a big present. Why else would those ingovernment sell out our country?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Kurt has brought forward some of the most anti-democratic changes to the law that this country has ever seen. It may be that he was asleep at the switch and had one put over on him by senior civil servants who actually are 'developer servants'. Whatever the case we need to stop these changes. Kurt shame on you if these changes go through. You are opening the door even wider for the destruction of this country.

  11. peter milburn says:

    What do we all expect if we continue to re-elect the same old same old each go round.One party builds up and the next one pulls it all apart and we go through the same revolving door every 4 years.The party system SUCKS and has never been any good for these islands.The beat goes on and on and on Wake up people

  12. Anonymous says:

    Why not give concession to us the poor Caymanians? If you want to look good, Just be fair to the poor and the rich. Concession for all.  Do not wait until election time to assist because it only takes the stroke of the pencil to change your plarform. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Because in terms of encouraging significant inward investment the developers matter.  "Poor Caymanians" by definition cannot afford meaningful development.

  13. Megablocks says:

    If Mac had done this, the PPM would be howling bloody murder.

    Hypocrits!

     

  14. Anonymous says:

    Where is the Anti-Corruption Comissioner on this stuff?  Are they waiting around for someone to call their 1-800 number?

  15. Anonymous says:

    These changes are important to ensure that the nonsense haphazard cheap ugly developments of the past are not repeated. 

    • Anonymous says:

      This comment has to be sarcasm as the changes that Kurt and Alden have made effectively do away with zoning requirements for developers who buy the right political decisions. We are going to see random developments that do not comply with the long established zoning laws and developments that are completely against the interests of the Caymanian people. We have been sold out.

    • Anonymous says:

      Does that include the million $$$ schools ALDEN built.?

  16. Lost in Space says:

    Always amusing to see Ezzard and Arden and their patented brand of "double think".

    It goes as follows:

    1. We need development. All developments. No restrictions on development. No environmental preservation.

    2. We don'twant your development. We must regulate developers. We must preserve our heritage and environment.

    3. We need development………….

     

  17. Anonymous says:

    Having read the new law its primary objectives are first of all to prevent the public from learning what big developers are up to and second to make it much more difficult for people to object if they choose to. It also gives to developers the formal option of ignoring our laws and simply going to politicians with 'real estate consulting' sidelines in order to do whatever they want. We have moved from the rule of law to the rule of the under the table envelope.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Kurt!! This is not right. You have taken our rights ( the rights of the individual Caymanian landowner…who also vote) and given it over to the big developers. What were you thinking??? I thought you were a man of the people ..  But now I see that I am mistaken.  Who and what do you Stan for Kurt?

  19. Anonymous says:

    Like in the US this country is governed by big business.

    Weak politicians and a naive population is why companies can litteraly buy the cayman islands.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Sell-out backroom deals, over steak and wine…

  21. anonymous. says:

    Why not break away from the UK, go communist and done with it if  you are not going to stand up to this inept moron  led government.Cayman is not a free country for Caymanians who are the dogs of this society, wjat a pity. I t will get worst while Alden McLaughlin is pretending to lead. The man is only for the rich and famous. Asfar as the littleman is concernet Alden hs no time to draft policies and laws that will advance Caymanians, check his record at the Labor office while he was Chairman of the /labor Tribunal. Alden's record sucks!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why would PPM continue on the path UDP started. Alden, do what you can while you can because I do believe this will be your last stint in public office. The Cayman people need to start giving you all hell when they see you instead of smiles and handshakes as you consider them easily guided sheep. People remember when these kinds of bills and amendments pass, all those that voted YAY we must Vote NAH come election time.

     

    Good luck to you sorry bunch of followers allowing Alden to ruin you as Mac ruined his team. I am convinced next election a stray dog can get it because none of you that vote in favor for this kind of disruptive development will get me or my families vote. I will spread the word as it seems a lot of Caymanians no longer take the time to read what’s happen and keep themselves informed with the injustices being perpetrated in secret against them!

     

    Cashus

  23. Anonymous says:

    None of this is surprising. The exisiting law and double standards already do very little to assist small homeowners and uberpreference the big developers. With these types of changes the result will be the increased in unapproved homes by small homeowners i.e. slums. I know that this comment will get me little love but albeit Mr. Tibbetts is a gentleman his continued impotent and bias leadership, ongoing lack of commitment to the grass root Caymanians who continuingly vote him in the majority each election year has become downright disgusting. Point being, where was he when some of his biggest die hard supporters' home got torn down a few days ago??? Mr. Tibbetts just claim sick step down and hand the job over to someone who gives a damn or will at least attempt to.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This is a good example of what the government of these islands is doing to "help" crime along.  Hand over to the rich developers everything they want and do not even negotiate employment of Caymanians, with excellent working conditions, salaries and benefits. Vexin this.  Does Kurt really think it is ok to remove undesirable sections of the proposed law and put them in the regulations?  Really?!! So, that is supposed to help right!  Doing an interesting job PPM, just keep it up.

  25. Anonymous says:

    As a person who actively supported the PPM last election I am disgusted that they would remove community input on these big developments. Shame on you Kurt!

    • Prospect Panic-Developer stealing LPP says:

      Its not the big developments- this is so their little buddies can do what they want

  26. Anonymous says:

    Voters only cast their votes every 4 years. Developers make donations to party and 'other' funds all the time. Guess which ones these politicians are listening to.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Giving any Minister the power to change the law to suit a developer is nothing more than an invitation for corruption. In effect it says pay me enough and I will give you what you want.

  28. Anonymous says:

    They all all the same, some pound their chest and drink Miller Lite, others pull down slot machines arms. No difference, its walks like a duck, quacks like a duck no matter what you want to think its a DUCK.

  29. Anonymous says:

    This does indeed look very worrying, as if big developers here needed any help! Some pretty well do what they want and apologize afterwards, holding out their rich, naughty hands to be smacked, while everyone else has to follow the letter of the law. 

    The problem with Ezzard is that he speaks such egregious tripe sometimes, such as referring to the National Trust as, "The Evil Empire," and claiming they prevent Northsiders from collecting thatch for traditional thatch rope, that when he does confront a really important issue such as this, you naturally discount his opinion. He undermines himself.

    Ezzard is 100% right that Cayman needs a new Development Plan, on the basis of which the Planning  Law amendments should be drafted. Anything else is piecemeal, dangerous and short sighted. Our Planning Laws should be reviewed every five years, which as far as I know has never been done, but when the Government breaks its own laws, are they going to sue themselves?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Removal of public polling on major projects is a removal of human rights. You buy somewhere nice, only to find they are going to put a 10 storey appartment block next to you blocking all natural light, which reduces your property value, and you have no right to say anything or appeal?? Seriously??

  31. Someone says:

    The Legislative Assembly has become a filthy pit of self-absorbed individuals.

    It is time for the rule of this country to be transferred to the people.

    Technology allows us to take every vote to the people in real time.

    Away with these dinosaurs. Most of them are voting Lodge anyway. Most of the population are not Lodge. We want a true democracy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Easier said than done when corruption is endemic in your society.  Instead of sound bites why not give some concrete ideas as to how we can mobalise ourselves and ensure that anyone we put in power next time, will actually consider themselves a public servant.

    • Anonymous says:

      What is the point of power being transferred to the people?  It is the people's fault this government got elected.  Tough luck boys, you get what you all deserve, and asked for.

  32. You can't fix stupid says:

    I wonder how many of the proposed changes are being disputed because they effect the MLA's own business requirements?

  33. Anonyanmous says:

    The planning laws and regulations are so against the middle class and forget about the poor. It's amazing the hurdles one have to jump thru when you try to build a house.  With record foreclosures the government are forcing the Caymanian public into becoming homeless or to create slums without running water or light (which are very foreign to us) because we can't build without having to go to the banks any more as we now need a CO to move into our house if we don't have hotwater heaters or a stove we won't get the CO to get electricity from CUC. The planning department is even giving the poor people problems to replace roofs that were on buildings 40 – 30 yrs old, they say we now must submit a plan to do so. From where I sit, I see the Cayman islands becoming like what Jamaica and Honduras were 20 years ago and both countries becoming now  what Cayman was 15 years ago, sad indeed but that is what is happening. Yes, stupid Caymanians mess up Cayman but don't believe when you do that you will be able to run to Jamaica, Honduras, Bluefields, Corn Island, Costa Rica, Port Arthur, Louisanna or elsewhere.  Everyone and everywhere are protecting their own and their country except us "Caymanians". It is a free for all except "Natives" here in Cayman, what a mess in Cayman the expats get rich or richer (no fault of their own or not a hater either) and the Caymanians get poor or poorer, now ain't that something!

    • Anonymous says:

      I came to Cayman because I thought  the US was gross with all the red tape and BS just to do anything

      So I thought,  I admit  I was young and stupid

      after being in Cayman I cant wait to go back the US it will be so easy and Normal

  34. Anonymous says:

    Alden is just getting a Taste of his own medicine and he can't handle it..

  35. Anonymous says:

    Note that the premier only denied that the changes to the planning law had nothing to do with the struggling Dart negotiations and did not deny that the current government had sold out the interests of the public for the benefit of the big developers. These changes are a travesty. Thank goodness for the LA members from the Eastern districts.

  36. Anonymous says:

    These proposed changes are a threat to all residential areas. I suspect that they were driven by elements in the civil service that are actually in the service of the large developers rather than the public.