Protest the South Sound development

| 13/01/2010

I read with amazement on Sunday night an article detailing the re-emergence of the Emerald Sound development in South Sound. Perhaps I should have expected to see this project again, given the track record of indiscriminate physical development in Cayman and our government’s historical disregard for any factor beyond the short term economic.

I did, however, expect better from the developers following the outpouring of sentiment and objection from the people of South Sound and generally of Cayman in April 2007 when this project first became public.

The South Sound Community Centre was literally overflowing with people, desperate to do something, anything, to ensure that this travesty did not occur. In the crowd there was equal representation from just about every group in the community—South Sounders whose families have lived there for 10 generations, those from more Northern origins who made it their home in the 1970s and ‘80s, the newly arrived, and everyone in-between. Our objections varied from matters of community safety to unjustifiable environmental impacts, but all were equally forceful in our expression that we as individuals andas a collective strongly believed that this development was not in the best interest of the community, and that we would absolutely fight against this development.

I write from the UK where I am completing my studies, tempted to get on the next flight home, to encourage you, South Sounders, Caymanians, members of the Cayman community, to please again let your thoughts on this project be known.

We are tired of and exhausted from seeing our beautiful island ransacked into a concrete jungle, with no consideration given to us or our children, or any current or future inhabitants of these islands. Over 55% of canal lots in Grand Cayman still sit vacant—why then do these developers believe that there is genuine demand, beyond speculative, for more high-end residential lots? The majority of the mangrove wetlands of the western half of the island have been destroyed. Culturally, we have increasingly fewer reminders left of the simple yet precious aesthetic of scenic and architectural Cayman at its best.

On Seven Mile Beach we prepare to bid the Beach Club a heavy-hearted farewell as the latest in a long list of small, rustic hotels exchanged for seven storey, million-dollar money makers. Other losses include Fort George, Dr Roy’s House, Old Galleon Beach, the original Holiday Inn, the freshwater pond in South Sound, the original Seven Mile Beach road which ran closer to the beach with unobstructed views of the ocean.

South Sound Road is one of these community treasures we still have. It is a place where we go for jogs and walk our dogs, a place where we played as children on the beach or in the mangroves. And we love it exactly as it is and was: unpolished, rough around the edges, natural, breathtaking. We do not want St Tropez in South Sound, as the spokesperson for this development has told us it will be. Legitimate concern has been raised about the flooding of neighbouring properties that this development may cause, not to mention the possible scenarios of water surge in a hurricane or tropical storm or the bridge collapsing and thus cutting off access for inhabitants.

Reasons to object:
1) The majority of the community very strongly oppose the development
2) Environmental destruction of the Sound from dredging (the surrounding coral reef system, the young marine life for who the Sound acts as a nursery, water quality and clarity, coastal erosion)
3) The canal and the cutting of the road would bring open water further inland, increasing exposure of all inland properties in the area to tidal inundation in storms and hurricanes
4) Safety concerns for resident boaters in the Sound with forced increase in traffic through the channel, which is dangerous to navigate
5) The aesthetic appeal and cultural landscape of South Sound will be forever changed. Do we want South Sound to look like St Tropez or to remain a Caymanian gem?

While some may prefer to not see the project go through at all, I do recognize the right of the owner of the land to benefit from their property, and this is entirely possible to do in a way that would be acceptable to the community. If the developer meets the community halfway and removes the marina element of the development (ie no canals and instead creates a non-canal/non-marina luxury South Sound property development), does not significantly alter the main South Sound road and creates the development in a tasteful and discrete way which does not alter the current look of South Sound road, they would find little to no objections with their development.

Despite our fatigue from past heartbreaks, I plead with you, with us, as a community: Let us speak out and put an end to this indiscriminate destruction of our home.

There will be a meeting tomorrow night, Thursday 14 January, about this development at the South Sound Community Centre, starting at 7pm.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Grounds for Objection to the proposed Emerald Sound development

     Misleading Statements in the developer’s application:

    1) Emerald Sound will not increase the likelihood of sea surge as it is not removing any coastal vegetation (except at the canal entrance) nor reducing the beach ridge elevation. The canal entrance will be protected by a natural rock breakwater and the canal entrance is facing southwest, the most unlikely (almost unheard of) direction of sea surge. In reality, Emerald Sound will likely improve the sea surge resistance of the area not reduce it. There will be no disruption to South Sound main road traffic…

    Totally untrue: the developer and architect clearly do not understand the issues…

    – When a hurricane centre passes South of the island, the winds start in the North-East, then veer South- East, as happened in Ivan, but the swells and waves hit the shore perpendicularly, that is from the South. The channel is not oriented to the South-West, as claimed, but South-South-West and seas, instead of breaking at the coastal ridge will continue Northward along the newly created channel, destroying the bridge, cutting off South Sound road for a long period of time and battering homes in the general vicinity.

    – However, when the hurricane centre passes to the North of the island, then the wind starts in the North-West quadrant and backs to the South-West, where again, Emerald Sound channel, the canals and surrounding properties are totally exposed to the seas coming in directly in the axis of this channel.

    This development could lower surrounding properties values by up to 30%, as a result of the increased risks in a hurricane…  

    2) The main South Sound road (Belair Drive to Old Crewe Road) will be slightly relocated and straightened to the North…

    Totally False: this development will greatly increase traffic risks in the vicinity of Old Crewe road 

    It looks like South Sound road will be moved between 80 and 100′ to the North to make the developer’s lots on the seaside much deeper, so as to increase their value. In addition, instead of "straightening" the road, the developer decided to insert a sharp curve near the intersection with Old Crewe road, where South Soundroad was essentially straight before.

    Cars on Old Crewe road crossing South Sound road to turn right will have limited or no visibility of incoming traffic from the West and the condos owners on the seaside opposite Old Crewe road will no longer be able to safely cross South Sound road to turn right or continue on to Old Crewe road, as they will have absolutely no visibility at all.

    3) The new portion of road will be created higher than the existing road, thereby increasing its resistance to storm surge…


    This portion of road was never damaged during Ivan: why does it require more protection when it has already been proven to resist the worst?

    4) Emerald Sound, in its current form, is the lowest density feasible that can be placed on the site…


    It looks low density because of the area lost to the canals, but the developer has squeezed as many house lots as he possibly could with most lots in the 12,000 to 15,000 sq. ft range, not particularly large for a development of this supposedly high caliber.

    Other objectionable features:

    1) 50′ "Flushing Channel" spewing into South Sound:

    I assume that the drainage water from the swales will be discharged there as well…

    Aside from the main channel, there is a 50′ wide "Flushing Channel" angled Eastward across South Sound road to take advantage of a lot not deep enough to build on, bringing smelly swamp sediments, water darken by peatand everything that will be flushed out from this proposed development within 200′ of neighbouring properties.

    If this "Flushing Channel" were built straight across South Sound road, as it logically should, it would occupy lot 21C/127, which is much further away from other properties and less of a nuisance.

    2) Apparently, the bridge will be a 20′ high unsightly HUMP of concrete right in the middle of South Sound road that will block the sight of oncoming traffic in both directions and totally mar the landscape.

    3) No turning lanes at both North and South of project:

    This is a perfect setup to cause accidents and slow the normal traffic down, as other motorists wait for cars turning in or coming out to get through.

    4) 200 mangroves replanted:

    The claim that the developer planted 200 mangroves is a sad joke: a while back, clumps of tiny mangrove trees potted in some cementitious material were dropped off in various locations and they’re still there in clumps, looking more forlorn than ever…


    – This development could lower surrounding properties values by up to 30%, as a result of the increased risks of damage by waves in a hurricane…  

    – There is absolutely no need to realign South Sound road, other than to line the pockets of the developer by creating deeper lots on South Sound.

    – A canal development with a channel generally opened to the South is a recipe for disaster.

    I have no objection to the development of this property, as long as South Sound road remains where it is and it is landlocked.


    Readers are welcome to cut and paste any information they agree with in this post to use in their own objection filing, which must be given Planning before the end of January 2010 and must include name, physical address and/or Block and Parcel.

    Anyone – no matter where they live in Cayman – may object to this Emerald Sound development on the grounds of the  realignment of South Sound road, a public road..

  2. I agree says:

    No canal but all the other aspect of cleaning up the wasteland seem like a good idea that mangrove they refer to is like a big dump since Ivan and needs to be cleaned up.  It serves no purpose except to harbour mosquitos ever since it was block from the sea by the current road.  I am sure at one time before the road it contributed to our wildlife by providing a place for this fish to be raised in the safety of the mangroves but those days are gone.  By putting new mangroves it should help our fish but if they put a canal then all bets are off…I got a notice in the mail since I live in the area and intend to make my point know about the canal

  3. Katrina Jurn says:

    An online petition has been set up. A paper petition is also in circulation. Please register your objections/concerns. 



  4. Lobsta Hunta says:

    (1)The Port in Town.

    (2)East End Port.

    (3)Dredging of North Sound.

    (4)Oil Refinery.

    (5) Now South Sound

    They are doing the complete opposite to the below:

    In the Constitution:


    Protection of the environment
    18.-(1) Government shall, in all its decisions, have due regard to the need to foster and protect an environment that is not harmful to the health or well-being of present and future generations, while promoting justifiable economic and social development.
    (2) To this end government should adopt reasonable legislative and other measures to protect the heritage and wildlife and the land and sea biodiversity of the Cayman Islands that –
    (a) limit pollution and ecological degradation;
    (b) promote conservation and biodiversity; and
    (c) secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources.




    • Mozzie Fodder says:
      (2) To this end government should adopt reasonable legislative and other measures to protect the heritage and wildlife and the land and sea biodiversity of the Cayman Islands that –

      Unfortnately (as I have highligted) the word SHOULD is included. A better word would have been MUST. As such politicians will interpret this legislation as they wish – the terminology would appear to give them an option to protect the heritage and wildlife…..or not……

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your well thought out article Katrina. Unfortunately with this government and its cronies I have no confidence that reasoned arguments against the destruction of our homeland will succeed over the possibililty of a quick profit for the few who contribute to the party coffers.

    Nevertheless I will make my opposition to the current form of this project known and I will join your appeal for everyone on these islands to do likewise 

  6. noname says:

    Meaningful conservation for this country has to come from government –but it won’t because a handful of West Bay voters put Mckeeva Bush in charge. He obviously does not place a high priority on the natural environment, so that’s that…


  7. methinks says:

    Well stated Katrina. Cayman does not need this. Time for a petition methinks.