Cove’s waived planning permission ‘missing’

| 19/02/2020 | 43 Comments
Smith Cove enhancement, artist’s rendition

(CNS): Despite revelations that Cabinet has waived the requirement for planning permission for the Smith Barcadere Project, there is no sign of the necessary gazette required to make the waiver lawful. While Cabinet has the power to grant a planning permission exemption, and is understood to have done so “in the public interest” in the summer of 2018, it does not seem to have gazetted that waiver more than 18 months later, fuelling further concerns that something is not right with the entire project.

CNS has reached out to government officials to find out why the planning permission exemption had not been gazetted, or if it has where it can be found, but we have received no response. We have, however, searched through the Gazette archive going back to the summer of 2018, when it is understood that Cabinet made the exemption, to no avail.

Deputy Planning Director Ron Sanderson confirmed to CNS comments he made to the Cayman Compass Monday, that the planning department learned in July 2018 that Cabinet had granted an exemption from planning permission for this project. He further noted that this means that the usual “agency circulation undertaken by our department will not occur”.

Every planning application is subject to review by a number of relevant agencies for good reason. It enables other agencies in the public sector, such as the Water Authority, fire service or, particularly relevant in this case, the National Roads Authority, to flag potential problems that can be addressed before any project is given the green light.

Government has rarely sought planning permission exemptions through Cabinet for its own projects, all of which it could easily justify by saying they were in the national public interest. However, it usually follows the process like all other applicants.

Major projects, such as the schools and the airport, have all gone through the full planning review. Even the redevelopment plans for the desperately needed temporary court space in the old Scotia building required planning permission, much to the annoyance of the chief justice.

All of which makes the decision by Cabinet on the Smith Barcadere Project, even before there were any ideas about how the redevelopment might take shape, all the more strange.

Berna Cummins, who, along with Shirley Roulstone, is leading the charge to protect Smith Cove in its natural state, said Tuesday during a radio appearance on Rooster’s Crosstalk that she was disappointed to hear that planning permission had been waived and no one in government had revealed that, including the minister at Saturday’s meeting, leading to more distrust in the community about what government is really doing.

Fears continue to mount that the real agenda here is to redevelop the Smith Cove beach for the cruise sector. Johann Moxam, one of the leaders of the campaign for the referendum on the cruise port, which if built will desperately need more beach access for passengers, said that for Cabinet to go as far as changing the rules for this project speaks volumes.

“Cabinet has made it easy to conclude that certain promises have been made to some person, people, or body corporate somewhere as far back as 2018, and the Ministry of Planning is now executing the plan on behalf of the government regardless of concerns from the public,” he told CNS.

Moxam said everyone should be concerned about how this decision had been made, regardless of any effort government may make in the coming days and weeks to claim transparency.

He said that if, as government claims, this is just an enhancement project for local people, with a few fancy additions and additional parking, Cabinet should explain what makes this project a matter of national importance and in the public interest to waive the need for planning permission.

“Given all the other priorities and issues impacting the country and our people, how does Cabinet and the Ministry of Planning justify spending CI$2,000,000 for what is being described as an enhanced parking solution for Smith’s Barcadere?” Moxam asked, as he raised another list of questions for government on why it has failed to address the growing beach access problems all over the islands.

“There is far more to this story, given the revelations in the public domain, and people deserve the truth,” Moxam stated.

Meanwhile, whatever the real agenda is regarding the Smith Barcadere redevelopment, government should have gazetted the planning permission waiver. Given the silence of the ministry on this and no sign of any gazette, it appears government has failed to make the waiver lawful and it now remains to be seen what it will do to explain away this latest failing.

Constituency MLA Barbara Connolly (GTS) and Planning Minister Joey Hew, as well as his technical staff, had all agreed at last Saturday’s beach rally that there would be a meeting at the South Sound Community Centre this week to allow the public to see the latest plans and give more input before the ‘enhancement’ begins. But no date has been confirmed for such a meeting.

Meanwhile, although Tristan Hydes, the deputy chief officer in the ministry, told the protestors on Saturday that no work would start at the cove until more public discussions were held, the tender process has not been cancelled and it is understood that submitted bids are now being reviewed.


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Category: development, Local News, Politics

Comments (43)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How the hell can the governors preside over cabinet with a straight face?

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe he’s simply doing what the FCO tell him to? Kicking off is clearly what got his predecessor fired and, with just over five years left before he can retire at 60, I’d say he’s keeping his head down.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Where is the great Mr. White, who lives just down the road. Pretty quiet….

  3. Anonymous says:

    CI = Concrete Island

    When does it stop? How many more useless and expensive destructive ideas do you guys have up top? Do you know it seems like every idea you conjure up is on an oopposing road away from environmental preservation?
    And $2,000,000 ???
    Better idea on how to use that $
    Use it to pay for one police officer to be onsite during daylight hours. That 2mill, along with its interest, should cover a salary/benefits for at least 3.
    BENEFITS
    1. Onsite protection so thieves will know to think twice before at least trying to steal from the beach area.
    2. Someone to regulate loud music (we all love it folks but you don’t have to compete)
    3. A presence during heavy hours to slow speeding cars so pedestrians crossing street are a little safer
    4. It’s economical! 1 new job is created and income will be spent downstream
    5. And you don’t mess with the environment (ie. cement, pave, dredge destroy…nothing)

    As a bonus, make it some sort of hybrid police/environmental position so the officer can educate on best practices to ensure sustainability (like leaving trash on the ground, using single-use plastic, etc)
    Review/audit the job as a line item budget in 2 years. Was it worth it?

    Just saying…especially if you got an extra 2 million to burn

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Keep up the pressure Mr. Moxam

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is corrupt asf.

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  6. Paved Paradise! says:

    Paved Paradise!. Caymanians your grandchildren will be paying through the nose to get near the beach – if there is anything left after the port and right-on-the-beach developments are built. I’m surprised the church land and beach cemeteries haven’t been sold out yet.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Referendi!

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Why the big surprise now? This is the way CIG has always done its business and always will.

    17
  9. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

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  10. Public servant says:

    Unna don’t understand. NEW PEOPLE need to run for office! These barnacles will sell us to the highest bidder soon.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    The cruise ship passengers don’t care about a parking lot, think! Local people need the parking lot who are elderly. It would be nice to update the toilets. It would be nice to have Cabanas like the public beach everywhere in Cayman. Why do you think that cruise ship passengers can be stopped from going to Smith Cove or any other public beach area?
    If the real reason is prejudice then put up a chain fence and have a security team only allow 75-200 people. We getting an army, two men in camouflage with marching boots should do the trick.
    People in South Sound are acting crazy. Most of the people who were at the meeting don’t even go to that beach. Where is your cayman kind? Your christian upbringing? Do any of those people have proof they use that beach maybe a photo????

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    • Anonymous says:

      Trolley roger ? Buses full of cruise shippers ? For a start …

      21
    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t fix stupid. You ever been there? Cruise ship passengers definitely need a parking lot. Where do you think all those mini-buses and taxis are going to drop off customers and turn around to drive back to George Town? This is all about Lord AL Thompson being sick and tired of the plebs parking their cars across from his clown house. WHY doesn’t Sir AL sell the bit of his lovely garden behind the existing parking lot for an extension? Fair market price plus $200,000 would cover everything.

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    • Anonymous says:

      One taxi driver already said he needs a place to wait for cruise ship passengers.

  12. Anonymous says:

    What are the comments from the Minister for Public Lands, Julianna?

    What are the comments from the Chair of the Public Lands Commission?

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  13. Moi says:

    Well, that’s one expensive parking lot! Who comes up with those figures? Jeez!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Bright idea 1: Lets fix up Smith’s Cove (yes, I’m younger than when it was first called a barcadere)
    Bright idea 2: Its a simple job, it can’t really need all of these approvals everyone in the private sector always complains about having to do, lets just waive them.
    Mistake A: Forgetting to Gazette the Cabinet waiver.

    Result: Everyone assumes there is a conspiracy when it was most likely just a couple of bright ideas and an honest mistake.

    Bright idea 3: Lets over-design the whole thing, because everyone keeps saying how much they like going to Smith’s Cove so we want to make sure they can all enjoy it.

    Result: The conspiracy plot thickens.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    The truth is obvious. This is meant to be a Cruise Ship Beach.

    I thought our elected representatives were supposed to act in our interests? Perhaps listen to us? Perhaps let locals have a small beach not overrun by tourists ? Listen loud and clear:

    LEAVE SMITH COVE ALONE!!!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    I think the term ‘backdooring it’ comes to mind here.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Reading between the lines, this is yet another inflated budget “job” promised to a close associate. How do we make it easier for underlings to step forward and blow the whistle on their Minister?

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Ron Sanderson confirmed … this means that the usual “agency circulation undertaken by our department will not occur”.

    That also includes not sending it to Conservation Council for its recommendations. Yet another example of side-stepping the Conservation Law by Cabinet. No wonder they don’t think it necessary to continue with their so-called review of the Law.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Pirates …

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  20. Anonymous says:

    No surprise here, it is basically the same process for anything that goes to Cabinet, case in point Coastal Works Licences, they all get pushed through with no review or justification. The DOE reports are just window dressing.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    I think CNS needs to add an ‘eye roll’ emoji to the list above! This government and their corruption gets worse every day!! (insert eye roll here)!

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Time to MARCH!!!

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Waaaaaat? We gonna move some sand around?? Protest!

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Joey Hew is a joker!

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  25. Anonymous says:

    Paving a 48 slot lot parking area doesn’t cost $2mln, even in Cayman. Our condo complex has a quote to redo 60 slots for a tenth of that. If you can actually get a paving team booking in next two years. None of this makes sense.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Because ALT want his million dollars. Surely he overcharge the government for the project work that why he lost his mind last Saturday!

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      • Anonymous says:

        AL’T was just defendiing what is rightfully his. Why should he be forced to sell? As for Mario? SMDH.

    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting point. I’m from the UK and this sounds like the kind of financial screwing that local authorities and government departments have to put up with there. A private customer can get a job done for £500K but when the contractor realises it’s publicly funded you can easily add a million to that. The daft thing is that they pay it!

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    • Anonymous says:

      It does if you hire your cousin to do it and they happen to owe you $1.9m.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Just find out who is paving and their link to Ministers.

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