(CNS): The Central Planning Authority has approved an application by government to install public restrooms and a parking area at the small public beach at Starfish Point in Cayman Kai, despite objections from wealthy landowners in the area. The objectors had called in some of Cayman’s leading and pricey lawyers to help them in the fight to block the proposed toilets and other facilities, largely under claims about restrictive covenants and objections over nuisance, trespassing and environmental degradation.
But the claims were unfounded, as the area is owned by the crown, which means that covenants don’t apply and government has a right to designate a public beach and provide the necessary facilities.
But it was Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller, the district MLA, who attended the CPA hearing to defend the tourism ministry’s application. He explained to the board that the goal to designate Starfish Point as a public beach and install the basic facilities had originated with his own district council.
The proposal had been consulted on over several years, he explained, leading to the development of the policy to enhance the facilities and secure the beach for future public use by the government. Miller said that property owners in the neighborhood were actually objecting to a government policy rather than to a particular development issue, and as such the CPA should not be considering those objections.
“If these owners were objecting to non-policy matters, such as the architectural features of the facility, this would become the purview of the CPA and I would be happy to entertain their suggestions for improvements,” the opposition leader told the board.
He raised concerns that the “wealthy guests, whom the Cayman Islands has afforded the opportunity and the privilege of living and developing property in North Side, have taken a stance that propels the construction of a much-needed public facility into a them-against-us situation”.
Miller added that the situation went beyond the objections to the rest rooms that were before the CPA. He suggested that some owners might be attempting to keep the local population out of the Cayman Kai area, given that, as well as objecting to enhancing the public beach facilities, landowners have been proposing to erect an electronically controlled gate in the area.
“The strategy is to restrict access by subjecting persons not resident in the area to the indignity of searches, while landowners enjoy free electronic access. This is the third time around for this electronic gate proposal and I assure you that this will not happen on my watch,” the opposition leader stated in his presentation.
“That would be particularly unfortunate and hurtful, as the people of North Side have welcomed the development of Cayman Kai and have worked hard over the years in playing their part in the success that this development enjoys today,” he said, as he addressed the planning authority members.
Miller said that in the past developers had always made sure there was proper and adequate access to the beaches for North Siders to maintain their traditional fishing, picnicking and sea bathing.
“The beaches have also traditionally been used by the general public, especially during public and other holidays. Sadly, a new crop of owners over the past decade, in particular, have been moving to erode and eliminate the use and access by North Siders and the wider community to the Cayman Kai area,” he said.
The major landowner in the area, Kaimera Ltd, had retained attorneys from Walkers for the hearing but there were letters from other owners in the area as well which implied that public use of the beach was attracting drunks, drug users and general anti-social behavior.
Other objectors who have already developed in the area described it as “a fragile and overly taxed ecosystem”. Another letter of objection said, “Allowing boatloads of tourists to descend upon Ivory Point is wrong is absolutely wrong on so many levels.”
But despite the extensive submissions from the lawyers and property owners, the objections failed to prevent the approval.
As Miller noted, the area is crown land and government has adopted a policy of securing the beach for the people, and as such is entitled by law to erect the necessary supporting facilities.
See extract of minutes of CPA meeting and Miller’s presentation in the CNS Library
Category: Local News