Developer to face CPA over land clearance

| 13/01/2020 | 76 Comments
Cayman News Service
Site in West Bay cleared illegally by developer John Burke

(CNS): A developer who removed mangroves and other important flora from a four-acre site of land for a subdivision has been asked to appear before the Central Planning Authority to explain why it was cleared without approval. The application was adjourned last week in order to allow John Burke, the landowner who has applied for a nine-lot residential subdivision in West Bay, to appear in person after mechanically pulling up tidally flooded mangrove forest and woodland that could have been retained.

Despite incorrect reports in other media that the landowner was granted after the fact approval, the Department of Planning confirmed Monday that this is not the case. Officials said the application was adjourned at last Wednesday’s meeting and the CPA was “inviting the applicant to appear before them to discuss concerns raised by the department and reviewing agencies”.

While this unlawful clearance caused significant concern for the Department of Environment in particular because of the removal of the mangroves, this case is by no means an isolated incident.

The DoE has been raising the issue of people clearing land after submitting an application and not waiting for approval for some time. They are deeply concerned that land is being cleared unnecessarily and before they can advise developers on incorporate existing flora into the landscaping, especially mangroves.

Historically there are no documented records of anyone being sanctioned for removing flora before planning permission is granted. However, there is increasing public awareness of planning law breaches such as these and people are increasingly demanding consequences for such action.

Officials confirmed that no date has yet been set for Burke to appear but CNS will report any further developments on this latest in a long list of land clearance infractions.


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Comments (76)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Law enforcement is only needed when individual’s moral compass is broken.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who da Minister of Planning? Oh, yeah – him roots back in JA too.

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  3. Time for some consequences in Cayman says:

    He and any other person or company that does this should be barred from receiving any planning approval for any and all projects for a period of at least 5 years
    Guarantee it will never happen again

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  4. Anonymous says:

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-51076897
    Maybe this type of enforcement, just once, would catch the attention of developers and the appropriate Board members involved in permitting.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Ignorance of the Law is no excuse….that is, unless you come before the CPA Board.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The only thing that matters on this pebble is the $$$$$ and a funny handshake. Suck it up buttercups.

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    • David S. says:

      Why is he asked to appear before the CPA to explain why he broke the law. Im goig to cancel my insurance to save money and if I get stopped by a traffick cop. I better be given the same privilege Or is he above the law and numbered among the whitw privileged?

      Only in Cayman where idiots are running the country.of being asked to appear at the police station to explain why I was driving without insurance.

      The land owner should be prosecuted and fined! Only in Cayman where morons are running the country.

      Poor natives.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Your weakness saddens me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    John Burke has been a developer in these islands for years and not a “Johnny come lately.”

    He knows exactly what he is doing. He wanted to develop this land and knew he wouldn’t get planning permission so he went the route that all the other do and cleared and is now asking for forgiveness which AL’T and gang will rubber stamp and nothing, not even a fine will apply. Makes me sick of the outright lack of care for our laws our environment.

    He should have to replant every damn tree!

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    • Anonymous says:

      He would have gotten the permission. He just didn’t want to have to leave a screen of native vegetation. Everything else you say is spot on.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    The government should impose a sanction the developer and block the land from being developed for 10 years!

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    • Anonymous says:

      The government should take the property and turn it into marine park primarily for growing mangroves to replenish the areas where he and others destroyed over the years.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    The developer didn’t know? LOL Really? The entire rest of the islands know but the developers on the island do not know??? Isn’t that your business??

    I have always been told that not knowing the law does not prevent you from being prosecuted from them. If that is YOUR BUSINESS, you DO know. You’re just playing dumb and that is inexcusable. I wouldn’t use a company that did not know the laws of their own business.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The CPA should ask him to confirm on oath that he did not know planning permission was needed. One way or the other, we will know who we are dealing with.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The developer in question is an experienced professional that should have known better. Unfortunately in Cayman the laws are mostly only there to constrain the average person but not those individuals with money, connections or political power. We will see based on the outcome of this matter if things are changing for the better in 2020.

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    • Anonymous says:

      …ignorance of the Law is no excuse……he surely knew (I know that and I have never built a building in my life in the Cayman Islands…) and if he did not know, he must be a complete empty head. He (and his brothers?) used that exact same tag line of “…anti-social behavior” when they tried to develop the gawd awful “Grand Plazzo” in Crystal Habour a few years back… “empty bottles of beer and used cond*ms strewn around the place…” if I recall correctly….- imagine that, and in the Cayman Islands to boot – better put up a seven story development to clean the place up!!!

      If this is not his first time, then he should be banned for 20 years from developing anything

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is just a farce, there will still be no consequences.

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  12. Say it like it is. says:

    It’s never going to stop until these mercenary developers are slapped with a $500,000 fine each time.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And banned from any planning permissions for 10 years.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And we all know that these things will never happen.

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        • Anonymous says:

          It might if someone started to bring prosecutions against civil servants for malfeasance in public office for refusing to do their jobs.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Good point. Wonder what the Attorney General and ACC would say to that? The failure to perform fundamental obligations is long past being explained away by incompetence and ineptitude. It appears intentional and almost literally “by design”. It pervades almost every aspect of our society.

  13. Anonymous says:

    New local planning policy, ‘better to ask forgiveness than permission?’

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    • Anonymous says:

      That’s been the policy for decades, particularly with Caymanian developers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That’s what Caymanian developers do all the time.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Caymanian Developers ?? Check the CPA agenda’s to see who are the backers behind most of these projects. You Couldn’t resist the urge to make even a environmental issue that affects us all an “us vs them” debate. And since you brought it up, not that it really matters, but this dude and his family are originally Jamaicans.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    When will people learn that clearing/killing the a mangroves and the wetlands will come back to bit us in the ass one day. When other countries are planting trees and mangroves to protect their countries we are tearing ours down for what, the Almighty dollar?
    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/09/senegal-is-planting-millions-of-mangrove-trees-to-fight-deforestation/
    Does government really think that any tourists will still continue to come here in future? What will they come to see developments upon developments? Tourists travel to vacation spots to enjoy the island life not concrete cities that we are trying to build and land we should be preserving for our future generations. Any person with common sense would realize that once they hit retirement age they will most likely not be able to retire in Cayman because of the cost of living is through the roof, the pension payments that you receive monthly would not be that much and i could go on and on about the other problems that we have here..
    FYI – The politicians are running for office to full their pockets, they pass these ridiculous laws and care nothing about the future generations and nothing about its citizens and WE the people still continue to vote them in. What they should be doing is investigating every Tom, Dick and Harry that submit work permits to Immigration with their false documents claiming that they have degrees, trying to get cost of living down, stop giving handouts and breaks to DART and other developers who don’t mean Cayman any good,(God forbid anything happens to Cayman the first people off will be DART, the politicians and their families and the so-called expats who only love Cayman so they can get PR). They need to get their act together and make the right choices.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    whoever did that destruction should be put in jail.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    When will the government and we the people really take a stand against this blatant destruction of our Beloved 2 x 4 Rock? How long will this developer and all of his kind be allowed to rake and scrape every piece of vegetation in their reach? How much money do they really need to grab after all of these years of raking and scraping Cayman bare? When is enough enough? How much are they going to take with them? Do they realise it is not a matter of how much you can take but what you leave behind when you go that counts!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      When you start signing your name.

      As for the beloved island, it is a wasteland, but many don’t see it yet.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I do not have to tell you who I am!! I always sign my name and show up personally when and where it is necessarily. E.g. I showed up and signed the petition to get the referendum, I marched against the proposed port development along the East End road a few years ago among other important things. WHy didn’t you sign your name? If that is all you have to offer on the subject you go ahead and knock yourself out!!

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      • Anonymous says:

        I kind of agree with your first point. As for your second, it’s not really up to humans to judge it as a wasteland.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “Whether it’s securing a vehicular inspection sticker [for a car that doesn’t pass], an exemption to development regulations, approval for work permits, the support of a particular block of voters, or, allegedly, millions of dollars in bribes in relation to sporting events – lurking behind the scenes are shadows of impropriety, influence, and inscrutability“. Compass editorial.
    Mr.Legge was right all along

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    • Anonymous says:

      Of course he was. And it was the beginning of the end of his reign with the Compass. As Jack Nicholson said, “You can’t handle the truth!”

      CNS: Utter nonsense! The editorial was published mid-2015. The Legges retired (at least from the Cayman Islands media business) in March 2019 when Pinnacle Media was sold.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Ah, but the severe loss of advertising in 2015 as a result of that editorial (remember the government ban and the backlash in the community?) put the writing on the wall. I said “the beginning of the end”… not the end!

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        • Anonymous says:

          Turns out Mr. Legge was right all along. For the most part his statements did not bother the hard, honest working, law abiding Caymanians because they knew he wasn’t referring to them. But it did strike a nerve with those who knew they were guilty of his utterances. Ultimately, Mr. Legge did an injustice though by insinuating that it is only caymanians that participate in and profit from corruption. Truth is he only scratched the surface.

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          • Anonymous says:

            It seems that most segments of the community are allowed different corruption – some are allowed corrupt development dealings, some corrupt immigration dealings, some get to run illegal numbers games, some get to freely employ nepotism. But you’re right; Legge’s mistake was not calling it all out and focusing on Caymanians.

    • MR says:

      Treason! hehehe

    • Anonymous says:

      Legge said YOU were corrupt. You personally. Was he right?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Who smelt it, dealt it. If it struck a nerve with you, it’s your guilty conscience talking. All good over here.

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      • Anonymous says:

        LOL – the use of a second person point of view doesn’t mean he was talking to YOU personally.

    • Right ya so says:

      Yeah, but it stop him from living here, did it?! and as far as I’m aware he still lives here. No good calling it out if you’re not prepared to help fix it.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Just like the other developer in north side. Not even a slap on the wrist. I hope every property owner in the area file suit when their homes are destroyed from storm surges. I don’t see why they should claim on their insurances and Then everyone’s insurance premiums go up.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Leopards don’t change their spots, another case of friends who have friends getting away with it.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Corruption runs deep here.
        Yet we scream when called money hiding country.

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        • Anonymous says:

          And once again we accept this as the norm to doing business? When are we as a country going to stand up and say enough is enough? When there’s nothing left to destroy? Nothing for the next generation?

      • Anonymous says:

        And if that is true, a clear case of corruption.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Every developer knows they can do this and get away with it every time. Of course, they may get a tap on the wrist.

      Sadly, developers rule on this island and they have the politicians in their pockets.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    He is not facing anything. One big check and he good to go and he knows this too and so do we.

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    • Anonymous says:

      what kind of country The Cayman Islands is then? Don’t fret over the AT&T ad if laws are not enforced here.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I’ll bet John Burke is shaking in his boots about appearing before the CPA, NOT!

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        • Anonymous says:

          I hope they will let him know that he need not bother apply for planning permission to develop the land.

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          • Anonymous says:

            What difference will that make? He’ll just develop it anyway and they’ll give him approval after the fact, just like the disgusting monstrosity on the Harbour in town.

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    • Anonymous says:

      More laws coming to tighten offshore regimen, the Honorable Tara Rivers said.
      But in a country where laws are generally not enforced, like the land clearing laws for example, or traffic laws, who would believe that offshore regiment laws would be enforced? She should have left At&T ad alone. Wink, Wink….

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      • Anonymous says:

        The key is that the offshore investors can’t vote. Easy to enforce against those outside your shores, but not enforce anything against those you need to get re-elected.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Not exactly.

          Angelo Moskov has commented on the Compass article , Nov.8:

          “… the passed legislative measure could hardly be enforced with the existing government infrastructure, people and knowhow. A striking example, for instance, is the Cayman Economic Zone (SEZ), where the Cayman Islands Department of Commerce and Investment simply cannot cope with the load of the new and renewal application for licenses in the SEZ. SEZ is actually one of the main reasons why a lot of managers came to the Cayman Islands and indirectly one of the major drivers of the influx of new buyers for Cayman’s real estate developments. If those byres goe away, Cayman could be looking at a whole new massive economic problem.”

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        • Anonymous says:

          These developers obviously feel that they are entitled to dig up the mangroves and conduct whatever act of disobedience they feel inclined to because they have been allowed to get away with it. When they do this they should be made to pay hefty fines in compensations. Until then they will not stop their destructive ways. The government really need to pass and inforce laws with multi- million dollar fines because the only thing they really understand and care about is the multi- million bank balances they must have through destroying our homeland. Enough is enough and they should really stop their contemptuous and reckless behavior. This is their home also and why they can be so reckless defies their logic. They should be ashamed of their actions.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He and anyone else who creates this kind of destruction should imprisoned. Some of us are out there fighting for Cayman and these greedy idiots are tearing it down as fast as they can. What is wrong with them. Until we get real angry and stop them in their tracks it will not stop.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Jamaica, the gift that keeps on giving.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps, but at least dem have a bobsled team!

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      • Anonymous says:

        If they had stayed in Jamaica and fought whatever they ran away from, we and many other places would be a lot better . Came to Cayman and want to turn us into the same shit hole they left behind. We too damn fool and weak to show them who run things here.

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        • Anonymous says:

          They ran away from the very same thing your hero Ezzard and a few other fools want so badly. Independence.

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          • Anonymous says:

            They ran from corruption and the stranglehold that Mr. Manley had on them and their foreign exchange. Independence does not have to mean corruption!

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          • Anonymous says:

            So why aren’t people “running” from the USA, Canada, South Africa, Malta, England etc and other independent countries ? Actually crap, I’ve just read the latest Economics and statistics office’s compendium of statistics, turns out they are….lol.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you 2.13, you said it like it is.

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