Gov’t urged not to allow 7MB doomed plan

| 03/02/2020 | 113 Comments
Cayman News Service
What’s left of the beach in front of the Marriott Beach Resort on Seven Mile Beach

(CNS): A complex engineering project that has been proposed to replace sand on a stretch of Seven Mile Beach is doomed to failure and will cause even more problems, the Department of Environment has warned. Urging government not to allow a coastal works application by the owners of the Marriott Beach Resort and several nearby condo complexes suffering beach erosion, the experts have said a beach re-nourishment exercise is required instead.

In its advice to Cabinet about this controversial application, the DoE was sympathetic to the problem of beach erosion in front of the hotel and the condos involved, which stretches for more than 1,000 feet. But they said the proposal to use sand-filed mattresses or ugly geotubes as a way to save the beach is “wholly inconsistent with contemporary coastal engineering practice for beach stabilization,” after findings by an independent engineer Dr Kevin Bodge from Olsen & Associates.

According to the expert contracted by the DoE, it will not work and might not only exacerbate the problem but also make the beach look horrible.

The engineer said a much better plan is to import clean beach sand from the Bahamas, replenish the beach and remove some of the existing seawalls that caused the trouble in the first place. The answer does not lie with introducing more hard structures that are not aesthetic, prone to damage and will further retard the natural seasonal accretion of sand.

“The presently proposed plan is untenable,” the DoE said in submissions about the application, after consulting the specialist independent coastal engineer and then sounding the alarm about the proposal. “It will not achieve the described performance. It will be ultimately deleterious to the Marriott, Seven Mile Beach, and the Cayman Islands. The proposed plan should be rejected by the Marriott and by the Government,” the department and expert stated very clearly.

But while the local DoE experts have constantly offered recommendations on planning applications about how to avoid beach loss and coastal erosion, they have consistently been ignored and as a result Cayman has a serious growing coastal erosion problem.

Their warnings about consequences have proved demonstrably well-founded, especially their longtime warnings about constructing seawalls and other structures on the beach without the appropriate setbacks, which is continuing to this day.

Just this week planning will be hearing an application for condos in North Side where the developer wants to cut the setback for the pool by half.

Coastal development in general, badly sited seawalls as well as planning regulations that have not protected beaches are long known to be the problems behind sand loss. But these are now being compounded by climate change and sea level rise.

The DoE said in the review that the erosion at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach is “significantly worse than in other areas due to the presence of hard structures such as seawalls and pool decks on the active beach”.

They said there is no doubt that the problem by the Marriott is serious and they understand it is impacting the hotel’s business. However, outlining in their submission both the engineers’ report and their own assessments, they found that this proposal is a very bad idea.

The DoE supports the proposal for a major replenishment project, which is not cheap. Its experts have estimated it will cost around US$1.5 million if the sand comes from the Bahamas. Previous smaller replenishment problems proved effected, and in combination with the removal of some of the offending sea walls and other structures, it would serve as a much longer and more realistic solution.

The DoE also believes this should be a government-led and subsidized initiative because improving the beach in the area of concern will have positive implications for the entire island, in the same way that getting this wrong will have wider negative implications for the whole island.

In the conclusions about the application, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie agreed with Dr Bodge who stated that misappropriate beach management, such as using unaesthetic geotubes on an already over-eroded beach will have far reaching consequences to the Cayman Islands beyond the subject property.

“Guests’ perception of an ugly, absent, or unstable sand beach along one major property quickly spreads like a cancer to the remainder of the beachfront, warranted or not,” the expert had warned. “The reputation of Seven Mile Beach as a whole can become rapidly tarnished by the lack of beach or an unattractive, unusable beach.”

“Prudent action to ensure the value and attractiveness of the beach along any few single properties along SMB is of great overall value to all of the properties along SMB and the Cayman Islands in general,” the DoE said.

The Marriot submitted the coastal works application last year in partnership with several neighbouring condo strata groups. The DoE said it relayed the recommendations to its own ministry in late November asking for an urgent meeting with their ministry and the planning ministry, but so far no response has been received to that urgent request.

The DoE report can be found in the CNS Library.

Anyone wishing to see the coastal works application itself, however, must make an appointment with the ministry to view the plans at the Government Administration Building.


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Category: development, Local News, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (113)

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  1. Anita Motard says:

    Why isn’t Plantation Village listed as one of the properties in the plan? I’ve been staying there since 1984 when PV had a huge beach. We watched the machines dredge and build the jetty next door at Treasure Island/Margaritaville and wondered what it would do to the natural water flow. And now Plantation Village has almost no beach. You can’t walk from Margaritaville toward PV or the Marriott along what was a beach. It is sad. I hope there will be a solution.

  2. Anonymous says:

    When you remove the vegetation from the beaches there is nothing to hold the sand and it moves with the tide and the wind. It coming back at present but soon be gone again. Replant native beach plants and over time it come back. Remember it is a beach and not the internet it takes time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    TRUMP!

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  4. Mervyn Cumber says:

    The Law says ocean front land owners own the beach down to the “mean high water mark”. I am correct then they own the beach, but still need a coastal works licence to proceed with their “Disney World” plan

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    • Anonymous says:

      But Mervyn. Look where the high water mark is now! What was the beach may no longer belong to the land owner.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Listen to the Caymanians. Take down your hotels and go back to your own countries. Stop investing in Cayman Islands. Take your jobs and money and go.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think it is just Caymanians standing up against this..and nobody said anything about taking down hotels..

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    • Boy you fool bad. says:

      Idiot much?

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not a question of nationality. It’s about foresight, poor planning, enforcement by CIG, combined with land owner greed. It should be put right for the public not the public paying to fix it for the greedy property owners.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Now there’s a great idea, troll….

      Take away the marbles if you don’t get the right to do more foolishness – the same foolishness that the fools before you did to create the mess that you try to fix…..

      Third world mentality… the whole lot of you😰

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Every Caymanian is an expert at everything. All evidence to the contrary. Other countries do outstanding buildings, piers, schools, roads, etc. Cayman can not.

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    • Chris Johnson says:

      Having lived on the beach for 42 years I have seen a lot of action. Geo tubes in the right circumstances may work. Eventually this means after a few years they lie feet below the surface of the sand and out of sight.

      After Ivan the person who lives next door to Luca installed them on his property. They are feet deep.

      As to seawalls, not to be confused with Retaining walls as on Boggy Sand road, they are often designed in a curve to decrease the wave energy although I confess to not having seen them in Cayman. This leads to less erosion on adjoining properties.

      The CIG needs retain an erosion expert such as Harry Roberts who advised them in the 70s.

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      • Anon. says:

        An excellent idea. I walk the beach very frequently and the beach at that house next to Luca is ALWAYS very wide! Even when there is erosion from shifting sands up and down the beach, that area always seems to retain a lot of sand.

        I can only hope that the decision makers take Chris’ advice into consideration, but I doubt that they will.

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      • Anonymous says:

        This is a very sensible comment. A simple measure might be to retrofit existing seawalls with a curved surface to diminish turbulence.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And yet no structural damage after a 7.7 earthquake?

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      • Anonymous says:

        It was 7.7 at the epicenter. A long way away. Now had it been 7.7 right underneath us….

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      • Anonymous says:

        By pure luck.

        Buildings stood not because it was built to seismic codes, (they are not required here), but because the ground moved VERTICALLY, therefore buildings suffered little damage because all structures are designed to withstand vertical forces.

        ROLLING waves of an earthquake exert extreme horizontal forces on standing structures. Such a sudden movement to the side (almost as if someone violently shoved you) creates enormous stresses for a building’s structural elements, including beams, columns, walls and floors, as well as the connectors that hold these elements together. If those stresses are large enough, the building can collapse or suffer crippling damage.

        The type of construction that causes the most fatal injuries in earthquakes is unreinforced brick, stone, or concrete buildings that tend not to be flexible and to collapse when shaken. … Timber will flex and return to its original shape, unlike concrete and masonry buildings.

        **Interesting point about frequency.
        “When seismic waves reach the Earth’s surface, they cause the ground, and anything sitting on it, to vibrate at certain frequencies. During an earthquake, a building will tend to vibrate around one particular frequency known as its natural, or fundamental, frequency. When the building and ground share the building’s natural frequency, they’re said to be in resonance. That’s bad. Resonance amplifies the effects of an earthquake, causing buildings to suffer more damage. In September 1985, a temblor in Mexico City created waves with a frequency perfectly aligned to the natural frequency of a 20-story building. As a result, more buildings of this height were damaged than taller or shorter structures. In some cases, a damaged 20-story building stood right next to an undamaged building of a different height.”

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      • Anonymous says:

        It was about a 5 at Grand Cayman. Look at the USGS website.

      • Anonymous says:

        The earthquake was 4.4 by the time it got to us.

    • Anonymous says:

      But the CI dollar? That what you live for and came to our shores for no dot dot dot…?

    • BS says:

      That’s because they are all built by expats.

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  7. Mikey says:

    Did Mexico pay for this wall?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    This is yet another dredging “test case”, to see if anyone’s paying attention to stop it. Glad people are this time. Barges with backhoes already loitering in the harbour.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    The beach was perfect before the foolish man built on the sand.

    Build on the rock! Move the pool and restaurant to the courtyard and the beach will come back.

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    • Anonymous says:

      More or less what the DOE suggest. No beach left? Tear up the terrace and restore it tot he beach it once was and hey presto.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Who owns the Marriott? Anyone with government or planning board connections?

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    • Anonymous says:

      If you have dollars to contribute to reelection funds, or say you are going to spend them with local hardware stores and contractors, you will magically find you had connections that you didn’t know you had.

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      • Anonymous says:

        12.50pm Proof please. Just tired of people posting all sorts of claims without one iota of proof provided or demanded. So please put up or shut up. Peoples lives and reputation demand it.

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        • Anonymous says:

          OK. How about you start with a list of Mac’s status grant recipients. Select the ones who had lived in Cayman for less than 5 years. Then ask yourself the question, WHY?

          Tell me what you come up with. I am sure many people are eager to understand.

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  11. You want your beach back? Just remove the pool and deck that you shouldn't have built in the first place! says:

    Anyone who has lived on this island for more than 30 years remembers that the Marriott beach (formerly the Radisson) was one of the WIDEST beaches on the seven mile strip! Those greedy fools built the pool and the pool deck WAY past where their planning approval permitted them too. They pulled the old “it is better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission” trick, and began losing beachfront almost immediately. I mean, you were told not to do it for a reason, but you were too greedy and foolish to listen. So isn’t the sensible solution to just remove the pool and pool deck that caused the problem in the first place?? Subsequent owners of that property have tried to “solve” the problem in several idiotic ways over the past 30 years. Remember when they put the “mats” of artificial plastic fluff that was supposed to imitate a grassy sea bottom?? The first good storm and all of that crap dislodged from the ocean floor and washed ashore all up and down the beach! Remember the huge concrete “planters”? Has any of that crap worked? NO! So just remove the damn pool and pool deck and let the beach come back naturally! The Marriott has a huge court yard in the middle. Put your damn pool there! And everyone knows that the majority owner of Regal Beach, the condos directly next door to the Marriott, is the same owner of that monstrosity of house just before Royal Palms. So we all know full well who the “other condos” are and who is really behind this new proposal.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Getting ready for the casino!

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is absolutely 100% correct. While the original Marriott was being built, everyone was saying that their sea wall was too close to the ocean and would lose them their sandy beach. But they didn’t listen. They and their successors are reaping what they sowed back then. So why on earth should we or government step in to rectify the result of their own bone-headedness?

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m confused. If DOE has given Government the solution and it is only a million bucks (which is a drop in the bucket for government) what’s the issue?

    Fix the beach properly and anyone who gets sand has to remove walls etc …

    Thank you DOE

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Build the piers.

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  14. Anonymous says:

    If they’d built with proper set back there wouldn’t be a problem. This is nothing new, over a decade ago the local press were running stories on beach erosion on SMB.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    First, having a nice beach in front of the Marriot and adjacent properties is good for everyone on the island. Tourism is one of the two major economic products sold to foreigners that ensures a living for everyone on the island.

    Second, there is great difficulty in understanding exactly how sand moves up and down the beach. It isn’t as simple as removing one or more seawalls. Furthermore, the seawalls are preventing the sea from coming further in and destroying very expensive properties. These properties are not only assets for their owners, but they are assets in the tourism market.

    The engineering techniques (mats and tubes) being presented do not seem particularly invasive, and could be removed later on if they don’t work. I think it is sensible to let them try.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Put a wall where the waves naturally dissipate their energy, and the waves will be forced to speed up their retreat , and will therefore carry the sand away.
      Stop allowing walls and other impediments to encroach on natural wave action. The sea will always win.

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      • Anonymous says:

        And get rid of the artificial harbour at Margaritaville to allow sand along the entire beach without obstruction.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a shame that there is no scientific research to back that up or to give advice. Examples around the world to teach us what to do. I wish we had people that studied that kind of thing so that we didn’t have to do expensive experiments with engineering techniques (mats and tubes).

      1:58am, time to go to bed! You sound like you’re from the 1800’s…

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    • SSM345 says:

      Not sure how old you are or whether you have ever heard of “researching” before opening your gob?

      Sand moves up an down beaches by a process called “long-shore drift”, anyone and everyone who studied geography in the western hemisphere over the last 30yrs+ knows this. If you disrupt the natural process then this is one of the natural consequences.

      If developers and everyone else involved in this country’s development listened to the science presented over and over instead of their wallet and the mind-set they can take on Mother Nature then none of this would happen….but they seem to always know better………

      Remove the pool and deck; simple.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The sea wall is the problem my dear. Build a sea wall and the beach will surely disappear. The proof is what is happening now. There’s nothing man builds that Mother Nature won’t take….wake up and stop drinking planning and government’s kool aid!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    There is also the walls at Sunset Cove/Treasure Island that Lords knows who gave them permission to build them but just like the piers will do, it continues to divert the sand away from the beach particularly for anything to the north of them..Why can’t we get rid of these and allow the water to flow freely again. Unlike the pool at the Marriott this could be an easy fix with a few stick of dynamite or a large excavator and a few dump trunks.

    The Marriott should not have been allowed to build so far out onto the beach to begin with. Go down there and take a look at how much further their neighbor Regal Beach is set back from the water. They are literally steps away and have a much nicer and wider beach.

    Go further up the beach to where Marnie Turner was allowed to build her house right on the beach and you will see the same thing that has happened to the Marriott happened there as well. I was there shortly after she built that and Harwood Jackson had to bring his excavator down and pile up rocks in front of it to save it from washing away in a Nor wester.

    This is not the DOE’s fault. It is the CIG Gov’t and the Planning Department who continue to allow these folks to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, then they want to destroy what Mother Nature gave us to fix their mistakes..It’s time to enforce the laws and impose heavy fines..and yes no more forgiveness..tear down those walls….

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  17. Richard Wadd says:

    I have to wonder just what the hell the people over at DOE have been smoking? Why exactly would there be any need to ‘IMPORT Sand from the Bahamas’ (besides $$$). All of the sand one needs is already ‘on site’ for the taking. Where do they think it all went to, the ‘Twighlight Zone’? Why must our Govt agencies constantly over-complicate and re-invent the wheel for everything. This is not ‘Rocket science’, it’s BASIC ‘Land reclamation’. Take it from someone who has actually done it before.

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    • Anonymous says:

      There’s plenty of sand out there – spread all over and around the reefs off SMB where it’s been washed out by the sea. As other people have posted, the issue here isn’t about trying to rescue the beaches it’s about whether anything should have built that close to the sea in the first place. All this ‘replenishment’ scheme will do is waste a lot of money on something that should have been prevented by proper planning – its’ a ‘Bandaid’ solution.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Right now, I am wondering what you’re smoking.

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    • Anonymous says:

      “Take it from someone who has actually done it before.”

      Thanks for telling us how you blew your wadd

  18. Stupid is as Stupid Does says:

    They could have waited till April, but then it seems there are many April 1st moments every year.

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  19. Cayruption Islands says:

    Our dim government has never heard of the saying “taking sand to the beach”?

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  20. Anonymous says:

    Remove the seawalls, and give Mother Nature a few years to do her thing.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    World famous beaches seven months out of the year!

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  22. Crack Heads United says:

    ho ho ho, merry christmas x

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Almost every successful beach restoration project in the world requires dredging of deeper sands back into the beach. So in the end the only thing that will help is the very thing DOE pretends is going to threaten the beach.

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  24. MERVYN CUMBER says:

    When my business, Don Foster Dive operated at the then Raddison Hotel there was a perfect sandy beach and our dive boats could nudge onto the beach to collect customers. The the hotel owners then built the seawall and expanded the patio towards the ocean. Marnie Turner’s sea wall first and then this one are the culprits and cause of this erosion. There is a simple answer to correct the current situation.

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    • The PPlanner says:

      And I remember when the wall as well as parts of Turner’s patio and furniture fell into the sea with the Big Nor’Wester that arrived.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I too remember a nice beach there way back in the day. Now I understand what happened to it. Foolish.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    The wall started it all! Tear down that wall! And the proposed port expansion will ruin the rest of SMB in the same way! Vote No!

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  26. Anonymous says:

    I believe the Marriott should have every opportunity to replenish their beach. They are an iconic property in Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The beach belongs to The Crown.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dredging sand from A to B doesn’t remove the wall that shouldn’t be there. # physics

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Radisson (later becoming the Marriott) destroyed OUR beach. Not much sympathy here.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They do not own the beach, and their “iconic” development is what caused this problem to begin with.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Tell the hotel to take out the seawall and put the pool 75’ back where it should be. Stop tearing up mother nature with dredging. No need for a new grouper hole out front. Someone’s sand will just fill it up again.

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  27. Jonathan Ebanks says:

    They need to replant some trees and then truck in the required sand to recreate their beach….Or the beach will only wash away again!!!!!!! Do NOT allow them to dig sand up out of the ocean….

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  28. Anonymous says:

    Well, if Dubai can build sandy islands, re-building a beach should be easy.

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    • The reaper cometh says:

      Go on pi$$ away another few $M on sand only to have it disappear over the drop off in a few more years. Then allow more wave reflecting seawalls to be built along 5-1/2 Mile Beach. These idiots can definitely find a myriad of ways to waste our hard earned money. Vote these morons all out in 2021!

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not that easy and isn’t working as well as you think.

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  29. Kurt Christian says:

    Vote No

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  30. Anonymous says:

    I have zero sympathy for the owners of these properties. Call me a sceptic (is there any wonder) but:

    1. We already know how this works. Government will ignore DOE and instead heed the mighty $$$.
    2. This is what happens when you allow people to own and build property almost all the way up to the waterline. They should deal with it and lose their properties as they erode away, or put the $1.5 million into giving back the land and restructuring within their existing footprint. It was inevitable. At all times any reasonable owner / developer / purchaser and for that matter, planning official could see this was likely to happen, and only get worse over time. No matter how long ago they bought or built, it was always foreseeable.
    3. It’s time for law reform to prohibit ‘private’ ownership of beaches. All boundaries should stop ✋ 6 foot short of the vegetation line, not the waterline. Between ‘private’ and walled off beaches, and cruise ship passengers, no wonder there’s already no room left for the rest of us on the beach. With a development/property boom, and (God forbid) yet more cruise ship cattle on the horizon, something needs to be done before its too late.

    Can I get a witness? Perhaps we could petition about that!

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  31. Anonymous says:

    Global warning.

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  32. Condo owner says:

    The properties in question were generally built between 1981-1985. So 35-40 years ago. That’s a long time for the DoE to not really have any kind of plan in place. I suspect this will get addressed in about 10 years time. A bit like the iguanas. The DoE has its head in the sand so to speak…

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    • Anonymous says:

      8:04 The DOE has been issuing advice and warnings for decades. They are consistently ignored by planning and upper government who just let developers go ahead and build what they please. You are blaming the wrong branch of government.

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    • Anonymous says:

      When the Marriott developers submitted the plans for the hotel the pool was 50 feet nearer to the sea than the planning laws allowed at that time. The bald headed a-hole from Tennessee who was one of the developers resubmitted the plans showing the pool at the required setback, but instructed the builders to only move it back about 20 feet. Since it was already in the ground by the time Planning went to check on it Executive Council (ExCo) allowed it to stay after Planning had brought construction to a halt. They should have been forced to dig the pool out and put it in it’s properly approved location in 1985.

      Ask anyone from C&W or the many other companies who attended their Friday coordinator meetings at Pagoda restaurant what it was like to deal with them. Tearing out the pool right now would only be justice for the crap they were allowed to get away with.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm the DOE don’t have their heads in the sand- the CIG does!! They’re the ones who turn their heads and disregard any suggestions DOE make! It’s pathetic and sad. The only way to stop this BS from happening is to make sure you and everyone you know that’s eligible to vote is registered and VOTE them ALL OUT!!!

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  33. Anonymous says:

    Dont give them any of the beach back. When they had 5-6 rows of beach chairs, the beach was littered with trash. If you ever swam by the artificial reef there, you would see garbage underwater even a few chairs. Disgusting!

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  34. Anonymous says:

    This happened because of bad planning decisions and not enforcing the laws. Mattresses with sand won’t solve this problem ,knock down the house and wall that was the start to this problem then watch the sand return. Anyone who has been here 30+ years knows the story. Planning really needs a change and update in their board too. No rim or reason or zoning being enforced. We also need to slow down development at this stage so we can catch up infrastructure wise.

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  35. Anonymous says:

    Not to fear folks Minister Seymour will push it through as he does all of the other coastal works applications.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He likes big docks and he cannot lie.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I cannot understand why they (government now and past) go ahead and set up departments like the DOE to manage and direct on issues affecting the environment by allowing other boards and department to undermine it. When will we get a Minister and Cabinet that is unshackled from cronyism and turning the “blind eye” . The experts are in the DOE, if they are going to be ignored all the time then the department might as well be dismantled and each developer set free to legally implement any and every idea they have whether it makes sense or not.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Exactly what always happens – politrix. Check back to the late 80’s when DOE were banned from speaking about the proposed port being built in the North Sound.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Like the Weird Al reference but think it’s bucks not docks. As for the lying bit, recall his testimony in the assault case. When it was put to him that he was lying he explained that his text to his wife saying he had been in an accident was not a lie but a stratagem. Cause he doesn’t lie – still goes to Sunday school.

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  36. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they knock down the wall a bit further north that started it all instead? Then the tacky hotel/strip mall that was also built without planning permission.

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  37. ~s3k says:

    I really hope DOE isn’t hushed and shooed outside again in this situation like the port.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t count on the politicians listening to DOE. The Minister is very weak and $$$$’s do all the talking with anything to do on Seven Mile Beach.

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