Beach access still under threat

| 02/11/2017 | 31 Comments

(CNS): The opposition leader has raised concerns that the Central Planning Authority is ignoring the Public Lands Law when it comes to beach access, which is why easements are still under threat and being blocked, even though the new legislation was passed in the LA earlier this year. Following news that a landowner has recently blocked the beach access along old Prospect Road because, he claims, “illegal activities” were taking place, Ezzard Miller has pointed to the continuing problem of access being illegally blocked and what he said was the complicity of the CPA.

As he delivered his response in the Legislative Assembly to the governments 2018/19 budget, in which the premier has committed to strengthening the public’s rights to beach access, Miller highlighted the growing problem, which is also of particular concern to the wider public, as people are finding it increasingly difficult to get to the beach as laws are flouted and not enforced.

Miller accused the CPA of allowing developers to break laws by granting after the fact planning permission, which had resulted in easements being blocked in his own North Side constituency, but he also took aim at the situation on West Bay Road.

The original application for Dart’s West Bay Road tunnel blocked off two beach access points but it nevertheless received planning permission. Miller said the CPA granted “the construction of tunnels” across prescriptive rights on Seven Mile Beach, breaching the law. He said that if the CPA grants the application for an extension, the tunnel will block three access points.

Currently, the application by Cayman Shores Development Ltd, one of Dart’s complex network of companies which is involved in the investor’s huge development projects, is still waiting for permission. It is now scheduled to be heard at the next planning meeting on 8 November after it was adjourned last month because the planning department filed the wrong paperwork. The developer is seeking to extend the tunnel by another 195 feet, despite concerns from the NRA, the DoE and planning. The Dart Group has said they will deal with the access issues but have not yet indicated how.

Miller said he knows these access points are prescriptive rights because he was involved in the campaign to erect the beach signs back in the 1980’s. He asked the attorney general why government departments were allowed to ignore the law.

The premier said in his Budget Policy Statement that a commission would be established to ensure that beach access for the public is safeguarded and maintained on all three Cayman Islands. “This continues the work started last year by government to reopen and protect the public’s right to access to our beaches,” he said.

But in the last few weeks alone access has been blocked in North Side, Frank Sound, Boggy Sands Road, Seven Mile Beach and Old Prospect Road. Just this week complaints were filed against the Kimpton Sea Fire Resort, another Dart property, after security guards chased local beach visitors away where management has stated that their security staff are trained to manage the balance for guests at the resort and public’s right to beach access.

See the extract of Miller raising issues of beach access during the LA debate Wednesday on CIGTV below, ending at 1:15:45:

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Category: Local News

Comments (31)

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  1. Mark says:

    As a visitor to the Island, It seems that hotel and condo owners love to erect signage (often on the public beach) but the Cayman Authorities do not. The Local Council in West Bay, The tourism board and the Planning dept should state their claim on what is rightfully theirs and provide signage on the beach confirming that it is indeed a public zone. Just do it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Irrelevant. The law is the law. It is not simply what the CPA or anyone (other than a Judge ruling on it) says it is.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care what anyone says or who puts up what fence….me and my daughter are still attending what ever area we feel like, what I do agree with is respecting the area with no noise nor any smoking of anything that will upset any family in the area.

  4. West bay Premier says:

    As I am reading about the issues of public beaches access . Do we realize that Government is just talking about them but not fixing them permanently for PUBLIC USE . Then land owners are blocking them , and charging you to get to the beach . Then we have some land owners that don’t want you near their beach . All spells problems.

    What I am seeing are major problems coming in the future when we can’t go on these beaches and swim in our waters . We also have to remember that these public access do not give us any rights to intrude on one’s own private property and use their faculties.

    We never seem to be concerned about things like this when everything is going good , but once it has been taken away from us we then goes crazy about it . I think that the people of Cayman Islands need to get the Government to fix these BEACH ACCESS PERMANENTLY because all Government is doing is putting a band aide on the situation .
    I hope that everyone takes my suggestion and get the beach access fixed forever . I am not doing this for myself , because on the beaches of Cayman Islands I have had more use and fun than any living human should be allowed to have .

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    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t disagree but the real problem is not having a clear law about where the beach stops. It used to be that the mean high water mark was about where the vegetation started and it was pretty clear was was beach and what was not. When a hotel or house is built and vegetation is cleared, you end up with more bare sand much farther inland. Is this now public just because it’s not vegetated any more? Property owners should probably make sure they keep enough inkberry patches, palms or pines growing to mark out what used to be the vegetation line. If you just have bare sand, people are going to say it’s beach even if it goes all the way to your back door.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The additional “beach access” that miller is referring to is on the Royal Palms parcel and runs along the northern edge of the property from West bay road to the beach. I’m not sure if he has tried walking along that public right of way recently but, for as long as I can remember, it’s been blocked by a fence behind which you’ll find the Royal Palms back of house, toilet block and kitchens. It’s not been a public right of way for years. Ever tried getting access to the beach through Royal Palms on a cruise ship day? The 250 lbs security guards at the door charge a fee for access. I dont recall the MLAs bleating about beach access then. Remind me which prominent Caymanian family owned the land and banked all the money charging tourists to get access to the beach via a public right of way prior to selling it to Dart?

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  6. Anonymous says:

    A lot of bluster, let’s enforce the Law at Public Beach and get rid of the illegal vendors and massive piles of chairs that have completely ruined the serenity and peacefulness at Public Beach.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    yawn…. more populist hot air from ezzard…
    beach access is protected..if a law has been broken…there is a natural remedy…

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  8. Unison says:

    Wow

    We becoming more of a fast lane society, no time to reflect, not even have benches by the seaside to cope and de-stress. Of course, enough people to run us off the beach. It seems like the therapeutic benefits of the beach belongs to a certain kind of the human species ?

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    • Anonymous says:

      And marriage benefits are only for certain kind of human species too. Who decides whats best for us?

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    • Chris Johnson says:

      Go down into the middle of the town where Mr Thompson is charging $10 to go on his beach by the fish market. He is now applying for a fence to stop people going on the ironshore on his property. Prior to that he put one up without permission because that is his style. Fortunately he was told to take it down. Caymanians need rise up and protest. I need support to object to this person depriving us of our rights. The CPA must not allow this crass idea. Over and above that he is operating with no planning permission and no business licence. Does he care? No. He is above the law.

      For many years this property has been used for fishing and swimming for locals. Now just for money he wants to ban people from their rights. Meanwhile I encourage all to enjoy the bay just north of it which I happen to own. There will never be a fee. My family designed and built the sidewalk to prevent accidents whereas Mr Thompson built the most dangerous car park in town contravening all property setbacks courtesy of an incompetent CPA who ruled against the recommendations of the NRA and the DOE.

      We all need press for more beach access and down town make it a more beautiful place for locals and tourists alike. Mr Thompson should put something back in society rather than continuing to take something out.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Mr Johnson.

        I commend your position on the matter and agree that it’s a disgrace that individuals are allowed to continue to profit from charging a fee to access something that should cost nothing. Your property is close to the cruise ship port. Why not do what the government seems unwilling to? Erect a sign advising that access to the beach and water is public throughout the island at the designated access points. Once at the high water mark you are free to walk up and down the waterfront and sit on the beach below the high water mark. Which includes Balboa beach where the owner is currently charging ten dollars to access it. Maybe charge five bucks to access it from yours, all of which goes to Cayman hospice instead of into the pockets of the adjacent landowner (as if he needs any more)

        • Chris Johnson says:

          Thank you for your support and suggestion. Apart from the fact I believe no one should be charged for using the beach, any such charge requires a TB licence, something he does not have. In fact he has no occupancy licence for his shack either. As noted before he is above the law.
          For me to charge people would also require a licence and employ someone to collect the money which is not economic. I should add that I am a big supporter of Hospice and supported Derek Haines in all his endeavours.

  9. TakeOffYourRoseColoredGlassesAndTakeAGoodLook says:

    Read this carefully, as it is a sterling example of the negative effects of allowing one developer or property owner to become too powerful. ***Welcome to the Camana Islands***

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  10. Concerned resident says:

    Why don’t we name the members of the CPA so residents know who to speak to about these decisions?

    CNS NOTE: Here is the link to the current list of members: https://www.planning.ky/boards-all/central-planning-authority

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Except none of the access points he refers to on Seven Mile Beach will be in any way blocked. Why let factual information get in the way of a good ill-informed rant however?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    What we have is a total break down of law. It is not new. Foreign interests and developers, as well as certain politicians and their connected local friends have been able to transgress our societal norms and laws with absolute impunity for a decade. I look forward to hearing the Attorney General’s response and soon. We are rapidly nearing the point where many in the public will simply start taking the law into their own hands as they now have almost no faith that anyone in authority is willing or even capable of doing what they are supposed to. Bad governance at its clearest and Governor, XXXXX You are just as responsible.

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