Neighbour furious over vegetation destruction

| 27/09/2018 | 93 Comments
Cayman News Service

Chris Johnson furious over destruction of vegetation

(CNS): A long time resident on Seven Mile Beach area said he is absolutely furious with his neighbours after coming home from an overseas trip to find the vegetation around his home destroyed, especially a mature sea grape tree. Former auditor Chris Johnson said it was a “sign of the times when neighbours in Cayman destroy common boundary hedges”. Explaining that he returned home last week to find 40 feet of the hedge ripped out and the tree completely hacked down without any notice from the neighbouring strata.

“They just did it,” he said. “The fact that much of the hedge and trees were planted many years ago simply escaped them, as it did their landscape company, is unbelievable. Trespass and willful destruction of property was not a priority for them.”

Wondering where things have gone wrong, Johnson said that he was always friendly with his neighbours but now there is a growing selfishness among beachfront owners reflected in this type of behavior. “A regular beach walker with her dogs from West Bay approached me and said she was horrified to see what was left of the tree,” Johnson added.

Johnson said that he wants to see condominiums owners respecting the rights of others. “Hope does spring eternal,” he added.

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Comments (93)

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  1. Anon says:

    Plant bamboo. That will tick them off. My neighbor is forever cutting my bamboo. It is a fast grower and a great hedge.

    • Anonymous says:

      What never came out of the article is that the condo on the other side of his property ripped out the hedge he planted 20 years ago, which was on both sides of his property, again no notice . He was off the island at the time. He must have f amazing patience to tolerate all this crap from his neighbors. I think he would really like a peaceful life having lived there for about forty years.

  2. Debbie does Dullards says:

    1:32….hell no. This is not private sector rubbish. This is theft and trespass and mostly jealousy of the neighbors. Have you ever taken a drive around classy areas. You begin to see hedges and plants that are cared for. You know value when you see it and clearly this is a crime against Mr. Johnson. This will have a good spin off because others will now get involved to protect their property.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Also Mr. Johnson if you should ever go to the pink beach in Bermuda you will notice that as you walk down the terraced and gradual wooden walkway that on the left are enormous and at least 100 ft tall grape trees!!!!!
    You must put this on your bucket list of travel places but I might bet that you have already seen this pink beach approach of beauty, care and loveliness.
    I will think of your lost grape tree the next time I walk in Bermuda.

  4. Debbie does Dullards says:

    Hello Mr. Johnson
    Thanks for bringing this entire huge subject up. I own lots of land and you would be surprised who I am. I am watching.
    You are doing the best you can to inspire the culture.
    We can all keep doing the best for the environment.
    We travel from here in GC to the sister islands and there is no regard for the plants. It isa huge pet peeve of mine for years. I will be behind the scenes hoping we can save the Mastic Trail and other lovely spots.
    Carry on the best you can.
    Awareness of caring for the natural plants, not throwing trash on the roads, recycling and beautification has to be taught.
    The reason why people love going to Caymana Bay is because of the lovely PLANTS and landscaping people. Have you noticed that the Dart people are using indigenous plants. Yes, thatch trees, GRAPE trees and other lovely plants.
    Please come forward people and help Mr. Johnson in his efforts to have a beautiful Cayman Islands.
    Please tell people that they should not tear out the mangroves. These will help with storm surge protection, homes for native birds, fish eggs can be nurished around the root systems.

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking of tearing out Mangroves. The Mangroves that were on the Sound side of governors Harbour that was ripped out and turned into neighborhoods, I just hope another Ivan doesn’t come along because those new pretty neighborhoods build on that swampy mangroves filled land is going to be a death trap for anyone living there when a good storm comes.

  5. Chris Johnson says:

    Having been here about fifty years I now have a nice tan. Thank you for your remarks.

  6. Robert Ketron says:

    As a SMB condo owner, I am utterly appallled by this entire story. Wanton destruction of ANY native vegetation is to be abhorred, and on the beachfront in particular, as the root systems can only help make sand retention better. But I admit I am ashamed of the attitude of too many condo owners who do not respect either the history, culture or societal values of Cayman, much less the value of native Caymanian flora and fauna. The knoll that Chris originally bought was populated with many beautiful sea grape, and for any condo-owner to not appreciate their unique beauty leads one to wonder why they would even want to own here. We do not need people such as they, and they certainly cannot compare favorably with the value of the positive contributions that Chris Johnson has made to this country. At the same time, it is entirely apparent that there has been a historic lack of control over developers’ wanton destruction of the natural environment, a situation that only the Caymanian people can change. Developers should be held to the highest standards to protect all of our natural resources, whether they be in the sea, on the beach, or in the bush.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Robert , I agree with some of those property owners are very rude and thinks that when they own the land they also think that they own the water too.

      Here’s one story to back that up . One day back in late 1970’s , I was doing an full day boat lunch trip and the only place that I could pull in close to shore was in by those tall pine trees that were to the north side of the old West Indian Club , and this little old Lady that owned the little house there came down and said to me that I had to move the boat because her grand children were coming to swim at 3 aclock , I replyed when I am ready to move I will make sure they are safe and she got the message and never did say anymore to me .

  7. Anonymous says:

    All of these problems occur because we do not have a Development Plan, what weq have is not even a Zoning Plan.

    All major plsnning decisions are done by “descretion”, substitute that word for the words “LEGALISED CORRUPTION”.

    • Beachwalker says:

      That dilapidated fence on Discovery Point Land looks dreadful and should be ripped out. I walked the beach to day and noticed that Chris has planted a new hedge but it will obviously take time to grow. Meanwhile the condo owners have done zilch.
      The hacked grape tree looks horrendous. What was the landscape company doing?
      I would imagine all of this reduces the condo values. If I was an owner I would demand to know who is responsible for all of this.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The element here that we must consider is, a failure to maintain a property. If leaves were trimmed off this overgrown hedge it wouldn’t be enough. It was poorly maintained and (by a cavalier owner) it needed to be dealt with.

    • anonymous says:


    • Jotnar says:

      So if you don’t like your neighbours hedge you can enter his property and cut it down? Nice. What if I don’t like your garden furniture- can I come in your yard and smash it up? Seems fair – your don’t like the impact on your view, maybe I don’t like what you do on your property affecting mine.

    • BKT says:

      And you know this how? I know this property because I have stayed at the condos on the other side and I can tell you for a fact that the gardeners do an immaculate job on this property. Besides, if the Sea Grape is unkempt on ‘your side’ and is growing into your property you should be able to trim it neatly but to completely rip it out? Is that how you cut your hair? If it needs a trim you rip it all out?!!! Sounds like you are speaking from a strong position of complete ignorance.

  9. Selfish neighbors says:

    I can’t believe this! These people should be ashamed of themselves….but I know their not because they probably don’t have a conscious!! It’s so sad what are once humble Island is turning into.

  10. Mike says:

    SUE THEIR ASSES CHRIS! It is utterly disgusting. Most of these condo boards are dominated by foreign owners who damn well need to be taught a lesson as they have no respect for local values or considerations. I have experienced a few of them in the past, and they do not care a damn for anybody but themselves. They only respect power.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      I am overcome by much of the support I have received on my point. Thank you. For those with rude remarks, water runs off a duck’s back.

      The point I am raising is that those who are welcome to buy our condominiums should be aware of our laws and regulations as well as having respect to our way of life. I certainly have tried to integrate with Cayman life over almost fifty years and done my best to contribute to the islands wellbeing..

      The beach has changed over the years and will continue to do so including turtle nesting. Beach access points which have been impeded by adjoining condo owners needs to be fixed.

      Most of people here can pick up a phone for a chat with me and a debate and I hold no grudges. So please those who are inclined to be rude, please just pick up the phone so we can sort your problem out.

      To all have a nice weekend.

  11. Russell Hollebon says:

    If they did not have some kind of court or official government approval for what they did, the authorities should hold the perpetrators accountable, lest we all suffer vandalism at the hands of “neighbors” who take it upon themselves to simply destroy other peoples property based on their own personal whims.

    Judge Judy would hold them accountable!

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is an affront to our forefathers who came here in the early days. they were proud of, and respected everything that they found on land and on sea. They cared for it, not destroyed it. It is an affront to their memory that there is so little respect for land and sea, and everything that we hold dear.
    this is written by a ‘born ya!

  13. Ora says:

    Trespassing is still against the law … I hope!. You lost a hurricane surge buffer as well Chris. My grape tree took 8 years to grow to maturity….

    • Good luck! says:

      Our “neighbor” encroached on our property and took out our sea grapes, not just a boundary but well into the property. Best of luck fighting this – we were unsuccessful even though there was clear trespass

  14. Anonymous says:

    there needs to be laws in place to stop this ignorance. trees are very valuable and a good ‘breaker’ in time of storms and hurricanes.
    to cut down someone else’s vegetation should be against the law if it isn’t.

    this is akin to the havoc they are making with the destruction of the iron shore..

    • Anonymous says:

      There is a law on the books about cutting trees down. No one ever heeds or enforces it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Take a look at Google Maps Satellite and it will give you a better indication of the issue. The vegetation on the complainants home encroaches far down the beach and for the homeowners in the adjacent condo would create blind spots to their view.

    That same vegetation also poses a challenge for people walking the beach as it is not friendly to your feet.

    He has a right to his garden, but you have to sympathize to the the owners at Discovery who have a greater setback from the water that can no longer see North.

    I would also like to add that there are much greater problems in the world then a very wealthy man with a monster home losing some questionable greenery without his consent.

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      9:49am , if the vegetation isn’t on your property , you have NO RIGHTS to cut it down or remove it because it might be blocking your view . That’s why we have a Planning Department and Laws to be able to deal with matters like that one . You have to be careful with that one, because not all land owners are the same .

    • Beachwalker says:

      You need visit rather than rely on Google. The condo project is about 300 feet wide and the grape tree was about 20/30 wide and about 10 feet high. And you are saying it blocked the view. You may have also seen from google, convieniently not mentioned, the swimming pool about fifty feet long which also blogs their view of the sea. Try walking past it now if you can following the condos new hedge that a decent northwester will wipe out. You also forget to mention the cabanas which certainly blog views. One is right next to the decimated grape tree.

      A person’s wealth or lack of it is totally irrevelant. You need not make unpleasant remarks.

      • Ron Ebanks says:

        Beachwalker , if you are referring to me , please reread my comment and understand it thoroughly because everything is facts .

        • Beachwalker says:

          Ron my comment was with regard to the same person to whom you responded. He did not have to be rude in writing his article and this seems to be the norm for many bloggers. incidentally I support everything you say on the subject.

        • Anonymous says:

          Think you two may actually be in agreement.

    • John Bodden (South Sound voter) says:

      Joni Mitchell missed out on some good lyrics when she didn’t think of using “vegetation encroaching on the beach” for her classic song.

      I am 63 years old and I have known Chris Johnson, a man of integrity, since I was a teenager, and I only wish that I could one day show the kind of restraint that he has in this instance.

      Long before I was born, a man named Hamilton from George Town was hired to chop down the grape trees on the property next to my grandfather’s house in South Sound. He started by chopping on a tree that was on the boundary, so my grandfather went out with a large grape tree limb, which at that time would have been cut into smaller pieces for the caboose, or fireplace for cooking, and spoke a few words into Hamilton’s ear. Hamilton picked up his machete, go on his bicycle, and rode back to town.

      Today I am happy to say that not only does that story remain in my family’s folklore, now handed down to the fourth generation, but the grape trees also remain on both properties exactly as they were all those years ago.

      • John Bodden (South Sound voter) says:

        For the sake of clarity, it’s only the one story that has been handed down to four generations.

        My grandfather was Richard Ellsworth Bush II, better known as Capt. Ellsworth, whose father was Capt. Dick, whose father was Capt. Kit, whose father was Capt. Christopher Charles Bush, and whose name can be found in Corbet’s 1802 census of Cayman as living in S.W. Sound, or the place you might now know as Miss Lassie’s Mind’s Eye house at the end of Walkers Road in South Sound.

        Needless to say, all of the above “Capt.” designations were earned outside of the North Sound, and my granddaughter Marley Rose Webster can proudly call herself a 10th generation Caymanian!

    • Anonymous says:

      Has anyone noticed how XXXXX

      CNS: I generally allow anonymous comments. However, as Chris Johnson has put his name to this whole thing, if you want to make allegations against him you also have to put your name to it. I think that’s fair.

  16. Anonymous says:

    We have a neighbouring Strata that doesn’t look after their grounds, drawing in feral chickens and field rats that create thousands a month in extermination expenses for us. If that weren’t enough, their occupants also regularly trespass on our comparatively prettier property to relieve their pets, leaving the waste and damage in their wake. The deficient Towns and Communities Law hasn’t been updated since 1995.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Town and Communities Law is deficient but the law and regulations relied upon are the Development and Planning Laws and Regulations which have most definitely been updated, several times, since 1995.

  17. Ron Ebanks says:

    Chris , if you don’t have CCTV to really tell who really cut your trees, you could look from the balconies of the ground level units and see which ones of those units that your tree blocked their view of the water . That would give you a good idea of who to watch , but the trimming of the tree was not done by a professional . I think that it is against the law for someone to trim /cut someone else trees which is not on their property .

  18. Anonymous says:

    Chris should know that those aren’t his plants.

    • SSB says:

      And you know this how? Do you have records of who owns the plants? You seem to ignore the damage could result in loss of sand due to erosion and the beach is not ‘owned’ by these condo owners. Perhaps a friendly discussion between neighbors would have resolved and satisfied both parties. Or clearly, they should have consulted you since you know exactly whose plants these are and exactly where they were located and on whose property. smh

    • Anaonymous says:

      Wrong he planted them there many years ago and were on both sides of the boundary. Try walking the property to get your facts straight. If you go there now you will see he has put in new plants. Chris does not hang around!

      You can also see the tree destruction for yourself.

    • Robert Johnson says:

      But they are. The seagrape has been there since before the Discovery Point was built and the hedge was planted by Chris when the Discovery Point club was being built. They are all on his property. I know this because I was there when they were planted. Please post the facts and next time sign your name to the comment. Thanks.

      • Anonymous says:

        Rob, you are mistaken.

        • Chris Johnson says:

          My son is right and I have photographs to prove it. Please send me your proof to show otherwise. My gardeners and termite contractors will confirm also and ironically a few past owners or tenants at Discovery Point. I think also the CPA have evidence. Otherwise refrain from distorting the truth.

          • Anonymous says:

            You appearantly have photographs, the CPA will be there to judge your spurious claims. The lines are clear, you didn’t trim your bush.

            • DE says:

              LOL…you are delusional. I completely disagree with your assertion that Mr. Johnson did not trim his Sea Grape as I walk past it daily, so I have seen this hedge, I have seen his property and he keeps his gardens beautifully trimmed. For you to say otherwise is b.s., but you sound expert in this subject so carry on. In the meantime let’s be clear, you are suggesting that if a neighbor doesn’t trim a hedge and parts grow over from their property to yours, rather than trimming up your side of the hedge it is completely acceptable for the bordering neighbor to completely rip it out even if it is planted on their property? Right. Good luck with that. You sound like a wonderful neighbor.

            • Anonymous says:

              @10:56 Stop being a troll. I think Both Rob and Chris would know if they were the ones who planted the things in the first place. I bet you’d tell Michelangelo he didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel either.

      • Anonymous says:


  19. Anonymous says:

    The only question here is who owned the vegetation. If the strata… then Chris can just plan his own vegetation on his side.

    If Chris… well apparently tree law is good fun.

    Since this is an article complaining and not a lawsuit…

    • Anonymous says:

      The tree is on the boundary of his house and Discovery Point above the high water mark and has been there years. However it was mostly on his property. No wonderr he is upset. Condo owners run the beach !

  20. Anonymous says:

    its a pity that the people are not being as passionate and vocal about the destruction of the coral reef and sea life as they are about the almond tree, which as we all know has to be trimmed and groomed periodically. Get your priorities in order..

    • Treehugger says:

      You need know the difference between a grape tree and an almond tree! What a wally you are!

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, good point. I would like to let you know that when the Discovery Point Club was built, the developer used a backhoe to rip out all the coral / sandstone in front of the Discovery Point Club. That’s why the is beach in front of that condo complex. So they don’t really appreciate coral either…

      • Chris Johnson says:

        I had forgotten about that. Indeed the developer did and without giving me the courtesy of advising me rather like the current condo folk. Actually by ripping out the sandstone it effectively increased the erosion of the vegetation line which extended further out to sea in those days.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, just like several weeping willows and palm trees along south sound were chopped down so that the people who live in the concrete slab Vella and those two new homes up by Cayman Crossing can have a clear view of the ocean.

  22. Elvis says:

    He needs to be made to replace them if planning wasn’t aware and he didn’t have the decency to talk with you first too.

    • Debbie does Dullards says:

      Mr. Chris Johnson
      I wish you would start a Board of Zoning or something. The rip out of plants and trees will go on at a huge rate on LC and CB also. People are so ignorant about the facts of EROSION.
      Also, you sound like a classy person that appreciates beauty.
      Please get involved now to get folks aware of not continuing the tear out, slash and burn, low class look of degrading the three islands!!!
      Thank you and others for all you do to retain as much beauty as possible. It’s your right to speak out. The naysayers could care less and are jealous that you own a beautiful property.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        Hi Debbie

        I appreciate what you say but we need get the younger folks involved as I am a bit over the hill. Meanwhile although not a member of the Garden Club I support them and my rotary club projects. I also grow a few palms which I donate to worthy causes and friends.
        Happy to sit on any board.

  23. Anonymous says:

    If I was Chris, I would of called the police. That’s destruction of property and trespassing and sea grapes take decades to grow. Really not cool what the Discovery Point Club did.

  24. Anon says:

    I work in construction and it always amazes me that people buy their land pull out all the beautiful natural flora and replace it with non fruit bearing and foreign plants and trees. The landscaping companies push this in a bid to sell more plants.

    • Sharkey says:

      I wonder if the developers of Vela would like me to go and cut down all their plants, after all they decided to destroy the trees at the South Sound dock without permission
      Moron culture with no possible recourse in law, it seems that Cayman is obsessed with wonton destruction of the environment and the government couldn’t give a damn, unless it affected their personal wealth..what a dreadful society we have become.

  25. PMT says:

    Who gave them the right to destroy property? And will the planning department allow them to get away with it? If so, we can expect a lot more of such horrible actions and feuds resulting between neighbors. Time for someone to do something, enforce laws and ordinances before it gets out of hand.

    • Anonymous says:

      Planning department will do nothing, or at least did nothing when the same thing was done to me. I was advised to seek a lawyer. Same goes for the police, even though there is a section of the penal code that identifies destruction of plants as an offence.

    • Anonymous says:

      CPA won’t do shyte. look at the 10 story condos going up despite a 5 (I think it’s 5 or 7) story law. Money talks loud in Cayman.

      • Anonymouse says:

        Get your facts straight. The Development and Planning Law and Regulations do NOT give the CPA the authority to vary the number of maximum stories in any zone. The zone within which this 10-storey development was approved is Hotel/Tourism Zone 1 which very clearly permits 10 storeys.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Where is the government in all this?!!! Wonder if tearing out any of the plantings at the Governor’s residence is fair game as well? If not, how is it fair to this long-term resident that they take it upon themselves to destroy property to the clear detriment of their neighbor?! I say enough! Sue for relief!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      The CIG wouldn’t care about the plants and trees at the governors house. Do that at Aldens and Mckeevas homes though feel the ground shake then.

  27. Sea grape says:

    Signs of time Chris. Cayman use to be a peaceful place to come, visit and enjoy tranquility. Now it’s about government blowing cash reserves on stupid projects that doesn’t work and only employ a few. Just take a look at the million dollars roads. More lanes equal bigger and longer traffic! Stand your ground and make a point!

  28. Anonymous says:

    They did the same damn thing to the big grape trees at the Brac Reef on Cayman Brac. Nothing was built right where they removed the huge trunk trees. Time for government and others to speak out about the destruction of Jennifers, sea grape, fiddlewood, geiger trees, bean vines and horse bean native plants. Stop using bull dozers to raze off the natural and lovely plants that naturally grow on plots of land. Coconut trees and almond trees are just treated like so much trash. People if you go to other places people are protecting the environment.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Outside of the clear violation of neighborly consideration and cooperation, the roots of mature flora are vital to the retaining of sand on the beaches in normal times, much less how important vegetation is for storm surge or hurricanes. This should be actionable and they should be forced to plant large replacement to try to make whole what they clearly and improperly decided was theirs to destroy.

    • Anonymous says:

      You raise a good point. Where Mr Johnson lives was formerly part of the old Mitch Miller compound that consisted of five homes. They were built on a ridge that ran quite a long way and were well above the water. Mr Johnson rebuilt on that ridge but certain condos came in and removed all trees and fauna to creat sandy beaches.

      It is very unfortunate as to what has taken place. As we know grape trees are very slow growing so I have no idea what he might do. I walk the beach and know that property. He had other grape trees that were lost in Ivan so I can understand his being upset.

  30. Jt says:

    Those neighbors are truly disgusting!!Just because you have a lot of money doesn’t give you any right to destroy someone’s property or act as if you own the beach.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Did they get permission to cut down the tree and pull up the hedges??
    Maybe the Planning Department has answers OH sorry a big MAYBE from the Planning Department.
    If I where you Chris I would take it further then just the media.
    That’s what happens when foreigner come to our island and do what they want.
    Back you up all the way Chris

  32. Anonymous says:

    Friendly, considerate neighbours are a rarity, not just here, but this is no excuse for having a face to face with you before ripping down the boundary hedge and chopping up established trees. Ahh Chris, I bet if you had done this without notifying them the strata would be taking you to court for damages though.

    They’re most likely going to hire a landscaper to come in and replant it with infested flora from the USA. Increasingly, many developers, landowners including stratas are choosing scorched earth policy over existing greenery.

    Look on the bright side, you could have a 10 storey concrete condo block going up next door. I do hope, this will put others on notice that them might be named and shamed for this type of ignorant behaviour.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I wish I had neighbors that would trim their god damn hedge!! Consider yourself lucky, Chris!

  34. Anonymous says:

    oh boo hoo waa waa you be fine.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Maybe they should pay for the replacement or go to jail? Oh wait, that might deter other people…

  36. Anonymous says:

    Should have had a ‘house sitter’… ;0) (Kidding, I probably would have been at work when that happened)

  37. Anonymous says:

    Any legal recourse here????? That’s disgusting.
    That Strata should pay to replace what they destroyed.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Hey police. What you doing about the destruction of property?

  39. Anonymous says:

    Sue them! Please!

  40. Anonymous says:

    Typical private sector mentality as usual the civil service will have to fix this.

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