New plan proposes CPA decide coastal works

| 16/01/2019 | 36 Comments
Cayman News Service

George Town, Grand Cayman

(CNS): A National Planning Framework to underpin what will be become the new development plan for Grand Cayman, which is currently going through public consultation, is proposing that the Central Planning Authority, rather than Cabinet, makes decisions about development below the high-water mark, such as docks, sea walls, dredging and moorings. The proposal is one of many major changes under consideration that will guide the future development goals of Grand Cayman. 

While there may be concerns about putting coastal works decisions in the hands of the current CPA membership, the framework document pays more attention to environmental issues than has been the case so far.

While conservation has always played second fiddle to profit, the draft framework is proposing much more consideration for Cayman’s natural and cultural resources. Conservation issues are incorporated into the plan in many ways, not least a proposal for much more comprehensive protections for coastal mangroves and other environmentally sensitive habitats.

There are just two weeks left for the public to submit their thoughts on the draft document, which will form the basic guide for the goals of the planning ministry. The plan includes many potential changes, including the creation of mixed-use development zones, where apartments will be permitted above shops and offices, specific high-density residential areas to provide affordable homes, and even open space zones to protect public parks and other spaces.

The plan appears to genuinely seek a balance between sustainable development and conservation, which has been a major cause of public concern for years. The CPA has persistently ignored environmental concerns, even after the passage of the National Conservation Law, which requires the authority to give equal weight to conservation issues as it does to social and economic implications when considering planning applications.

However, while the draft plan proposes handing coastal works applications — one of the most controversial elements of development — to the CPA, it also aims to enshrine environmental protections. The document aims to review “planning and development regulations to ensure there are the proper tools in place to preserve the Island’s coastal mangroves” and other important eco-systems.

So far, mangrove buffer zones have proved inadequate to protect mangrove habitat from development, and many acres have been removed to make way for major projects. The new plan calls for a review of the status quo and introduce a formal Coastal Mangrove Buffer zone, where no development at all would be allowed.

Similarly, the plan proposed the creation of coastal zone boundaries with proper tools to preserve the island’s coastline and waters and set standards for any coastal works, as well greater clarity on the requirements for permission for docks and other structures or dredging in these zones.

“The overarching goal of the Coastal Zone is to ensure that development that takes place in these areas has the least possible impact on the marine environment and the context and character of nearby land-side uses. It is intended that existing marine protection designations will remain in place,” the framework states.

It is also proposes the introduction of overlays on specific zones that would allow for special restrictions without changing the zone in circumstances such as the limited building heights within the airport approach area. But this idea could also be used to protect specific habitats.

The proposed plan suggests that having a Natural Resource Preservation Overlay on an area that might be zoned for tourism could add protections for valuable natural resources, such as land over a water lens and scenic coastlines. It would also pave the way to mandate the requirement for developers to accommodate a given property’s natural resources and incentive policies for adding protection for specific habitat.

The overlay zone idea could also protect important heritage sites and historically significant features, such as old homes, trails and rights of way, lighthouses and shipwrecks, and introduce lawful protection for the country’s infrastructure history for the first time.

The basic framework for the proposed new development plan covers a whole range of issues for Grand Cayman’s future development, including a transport plan to encourage walking, bike riding and public transport use while discouraging cars.

The proposal also calls for the exploration of seaside commuter services and using the waters around the island as another transportation option, with sea taxis combined with park-and-ride facilities from  public beaches and docks.

Some of the other proposed changes are zoning areas for high density smaller tourism developments where appropriate, protecting agricultural land and planned area developments, incorporating renewable energy, improving waste management, as well as imposing stricter design standards on developments.

The framework signals ambitious goals from government for a development plan, which would replace the 1997 one, which everyone agrees is no longer fit for purpose.

How government covers the cost of infrastructure to support development is reviewed in the plan, too. Officials are proposing that the development fees collected for the infrastructure fund should enable the government to fully recover costs related to that investment, such as roads and sewers.

The plan suggests that government “evaluate the true costs of all development types and ensures new  development pays for the public cost of development”, with the objective of shifting the burden from the public purse or existing businesses.

People are encouraged to comment on what is being billed as a significant and comprehensive overhaul of how development is managed. The deadline to submit feedback is Monday, 28 January.

The National Planning Framework is in the CNS Library

Feedback can be submitted through the website, where there is an online survey. The public can also email to submit comments and ideas.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (36)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    wait…there’s strip joints in the north sound? wtf? how does one find the location for, ahem, research…

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is all about the big dock for Imparato’s condos at Rum Point (in a national park) and the really big dock for the proposed Dart Bar at Barker’s (in a replenishment zone). Nothing more that. Amazing what shills the politicians are. Cabinet doesn’t want to take the heat, but the CPA will approve anything with no fear of consequences.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Lots of tough talk, but, again, are sufficient registered voters actually willing to end this maturing autocracy?!? Are the electorate smart enough to know the democratic rights they are conceding, and the history of where this goes from here? This road is NOT a stabilizing force for international financial business, or real estate investment, I can tell you that…

  4. Change my mind says:

    We all know the port is a money making scheme conjured up by government to line their greedy pockets with money. It doesn’t have to benefit the economy just pockets of the ones pushing this selfish agenda. This is all personal gain with no concern about the people of Cayman or the enviornment.

  5. Anonymous says:

    All a front for personal gain. There is no consideration for the public or the environment. This is corruption at it’s finest. What the hell is Martyn Roper doing? Thought he was governor but it appears he is just another stay over guest being paid 6 digits for sitting on his ass.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Let’s see if someone gets a free multi-million dollar house in a gated community in Georgia out of this one.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Oh hell no.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t the recent proposal for a 50 story tower with a casino in the middle of North Sound – but I am sure that the high roller who is calling for that tower would agree to a strip club provided that there was VIP access and the staff did not complain about a little groping.

  9. Anonymous says:

    For no apparent reason the phrase that I can’t get out of my head is ‘self serving cabal’.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Until we have effective standards in public life and anti-corruption laws and the composition of the CPA and the Planning Appeals Tribunal are fundamentally and permanently changed to better reflect the longterm interests of all of the citizens of these islands, there is no good news in this story.

    • Anonymous says:

      What does the Planning Appeals Tribunal have to do with this? Specific parties can appeal CPA decisions to the Tribunal only on specific grounds. These days it seems only objectors file appeals; applicants simply modify their applications to suit the grounds for rejection the CPA relied upon and reapply to the CPA, which then has no basis upon which to refuse the application. What is the Tribunal able to do or supposed to do about that? Nothing. When a matter does come before the Tribunal, what do you expect it to do? Act according to law, or make some crude attempt to read the popular mood, ignore the law, and approve everything that is rejected by the CPA and reject everything approved by the CPA? Should they be weighing the Compass editorial and CNS comments against each other, or weighing the facts and the law?

  11. Drain the Swamp says:

    The entire CPA board must be changed before it happens. Greater balance and objective views that are not involved in the construction industry or supply of construction materials or services related to the industry is required. The foxes have been watching the hen house for too long.

    • Anonymous says:

      The CPA is currently made up primarily of developers; and guess what developers do? You see where I am going with this?

      • Anonymous says:

        Unfortunately, developers are the people in the perfect position to judge applications in the round, because they are used to overseeing every aspect of their projects and so can assess every part of an application. The problem isn’t the number of developers but the number of suppliers to the industry. It is a classic case of regulatory capture. It is not necessary to have a hardware baron as chair and a roofing material supplier as deputy chair. In fact it’s bad, both for decision-making and public confidence.

        • Anonymous says:

          LOL…having been in the construction industry for almost 30 years, heres what ive come to know about what developers know. MONEY. They DONT oversee all aspects of anything. They barely understand the market, construction, basic engineering or design, sustainable materials, building codes, planning laws or even the few ethics of not selling people absolute crap!

          • Anonymous says:

            Hey, you know better than me. But I have to say, I would expect someone with 30 years in construction to have a dim opinion of developers. Lots of people in professions and trades think those in other professions or trades they have to interact with ‘don’t know anything’. If those opinions were all right, we would all be useless, and there would be no way anything would be getting done. I don’t think that is the case. And I don’t think you can seriously be suggesting a developer knows nothing about his own developments, or about developing generally. What do you think should be the composition of the CPA?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Great news! Development is Cayman’s future if we want to compete!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Give DOE the legal power to stop unsustainable development. Take the power away from commercial interests who care nothing for the environment.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank God for common sense. Can’t trust the tree huggers or we’ll be back to the dark ages and no development at all. CPA is best suited to make these decisions

  15. Anonymous says:

    Cabinet has the power to grant coastal works licences because altering our coastline is more consequential and controversial in many cases than applications to build on land. That power rests with the Cabinet quite rightly as the Cabinet is presumed to have some sort of policy and vision for how we develop to measure the proposal against. It is political because it is the use and alteration of public land, not private, but for private gain. They should not give this power to the CPA. The only way the power could rest with them is if they aren’t making the actual decision, in which case they are just a front for the Cabinet anyway. Fronts are used by organised crime, not governments. Which type of organisation are these jokers running?

  16. Anonymous says:

    There goes the neighborhood!

  17. Anonymous says:

    What exactly is this supposed to change? The CPA are already directed BY the Cabinet. They are a rubber stamping committee. All high profile applications to planning have already been decided on before it even appears on the CPA agenda!! This just sounds like the CPA are becoming scapegoats for even more decisions by ‘the powers that be’!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Now the party getting started for true

  19. Anonymous says:

    What is happening here? Is cabinet tired of taking the heat and setting up their hand picked members of the planning board to do so for them so that when anything goes bad like the berthing piers they can wipe their hands and say “wasn’t us” planning did it. First thing needed here is to change out the board members asap.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Right – CPA dominated by the construction industry and most of the easily paved over land mass of the island already destroyed by the greed of the development industry and their pet politicians so it is clearly time that government turns the same posse loose on coastal areas. Over the water 20 story towers and strip malls with strip joints in the middle of North Sound soon come.

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