After-fact primary habitat removal to be approved

| 29/09/2020 | 77 Comments
East End

(CNS): Yet another after-the-fact application for the removal of primary habitat on a site off the Queen’s Highway is set to get the green light this week, with the landowner facing no more than a $1,000 fee for the unlawful clearance. The planning department recommended that an application by Eric James Bergstrom-Grant Management for the destruction of the largely untouched oceanfront parcel be approved.

The application is due to be considered by the Central Planning Authority on Wednesday, and despite continued efforts by the Department of Environment to get the CPA to act to stop people clearing land without approval, there will be no consequences for this latest unnecessary onslaught on nature.

Commenting on behalf of the National Conservation Council, the DoE said that the owner had removed primary coastal shrubland, dry shrubland and dry forest that is now lost. Once again the department stated that it does not support clearing land for speculative projects and urged an end to the practice.

“Primary habitat is mature habitat in its natural state, otherwise uninfluenced by human activity where ecological processes are not significantly disturbed,” the DoE pointed out in its submissions to the CPA. “These habitats are often very old, existing long before humans and may consist of many endemic and ecologically important species. Unfortunately, primary coastal habitat is becoming rarer as development increases and speculative clearing of coastal parcels occur.”

The DoE added that it was regrettable that the site has already been torn up as it would have encouraged the applicant to clear only when development was imminent, allowing for the existing ecosystem to function and for the land to remain a home for local wildlife until the applicant was ready to build.

“We would have also recommended clearing only the development footprint, leaving the vegetation within the setbacks to act as a privacy buffer and retaining as much mature native vegetation as possible,” the department said.

It is now too late to preserve any of the mature habitat, regardless of whether or not a project goes ahead on the land. The DoE urged the owners to at least plant and incorporate native vegetation into any future landscaping scheme for the parcel.

“Native coastal vegetation typically consists of various salt and wind-tolerant flora which are perfectly adapted to the habitat conditions of the site resulting in landscaping which supports local biodiversity and requires less maintenance, making it a very cost-effective choice,” the experts said.

According to the agenda for this Wednesday’s meeting, the planning department said it had no concerns regarding the application other than it is after-the-fact. But officials said the after-the-fact fee penalty was paid. According to the schedule, the assault on the environment would have been less than $1,000.

While no neighbouring landowners objected to this application, the agenda reveals that some residents within given notification zones are realising they can object to planning applications that pose a threat to nature as well as their own individual property interests.

In two letters to the CPA residents living across the canal from a proposed 13-unit apartment development on Omega Drive objected to the removal of mangroves for a sea wall. The objecting neighbours both said the mangroves are an important part of their enjoyment of their own properties but also noted the importance they have for the wildlife living among them. Both of the objectors noted the gazetting of the mangrove conservation plan and the protections these important plants now have.

The DoE also urged the retention of the mangroves on the canal side edge of the parcel where the development is proposed to go.

“Mangroves provide a nursery habitat for fish and other marine life and are vital in helping to maintain good water quality,” the DoE stated. “Both mangroves and other canal-side vegetation provide a natural buffer which helps to intercept surface water that may run-off the land into the canal impacting water quality. In addition, canal-side vegetation, especially mangroves, also helps to prevent soil erosion by binding the substrate.”

The department also said that mangroves can be trimmed to allow views without killing them, as set out in the DoE’s trimming guidelines.

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Category: development, Land Habitat, Local News, Science & Nature

Comments (77)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    When we have destroyed all of our natural environment, for greed, let’s hope those who benefit from such careless and reckless actions, will be the first to feel the after effects.

  2. Anonymous says:

    OMG!! $1,000??? How will they feed their families after paying that exorbitant penalty???
    Where is the GoFundMe page so I can help them out??

    Exactly as another poster commented, this is merely the cost of doing business. That in no way is ANY deterrent. WTF??

  3. Anonymous says:

    Very disappointed with Jimmy..His family particularly must be so unhappy with this as well.

    I expected better.

  4. G says:

    The issue is for environmental issues, that there are no real penalties for individuals that break the law. These after the fact fines are just a cost of doing business for developers. I’m not certain what was exactly done in this instance but government needs to set these fines so they are meaningful and actually deter this type of behavior. Until that happens, nothing will change. Younger Caymanians are not going to forgive the “old guard” politicians and their failure to act is at their own peril. I hope it happens soon – time is running out.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is HORRIBLE. Both neighbors on Queens Hwy live overseas and would NOT have received any mail or notifications from March to July due to Covid.

    This is sneaky and snake as possible and anyone working with these firms should be completely ashamed of themselves and their businesses.

    When will the greed and corruption stop? Ridiculous to see “construction” in the name of greed break our laws and our Boards and Politicians just take the brown paper bags or votes-in-kind?

    Despicable but as always never a surprise….

  6. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone seen that big development going into West Bay ..digging land creating lakes and all..

    Al” T has that big rubber ATF stamp out for that one too..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello CIG/CPA/Planning Dept., either STOP with these after-the-fact approvals or simply throw out all Planning Regulations and requirements!

    Planning Dept. better not say S**T to me when I do renovations on my house!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Omg, why can’t the government stop the building on the BEACH side?? There is plenty of room on the other side of the road leaving the ocean views for ALL to enjoy not just the privileged luxury condo owners. Crazy!!!

  9. John says:

    Do this in Florida and it would be a fine of $1,000 per day minimum until it was reinstated.

    • Anonymous says:

      The DOE should prosecute the land owner regardless of the CPA decision. Is that possible?

    • Eliza says:

      Saddest thing is, these plants and trees cannot be replaced. Thousands of plants will have been removed from the dry forest. These are all beautiful natives, and very few indeed of these species can be bought from local nurseries. So once the forest is gone, it’s gone forever. Beach plants maycome back, if allowed.

  10. jim gall says:

    This is not good for the environment –just cut down what you want pay a minimum fine. The nature of having a family member on the Planning tell me “Bergstrom’s for Jail”

    The same thing happened on the northside on water cay road for a new house and these people did the same thing. Very arrogant people that do what they want to get their way.

    Save our island from these people

    • Anonymous says:

      If a native caymanian try to do some improvement to their yard or house, planning is there to stop you. Hope they visit the right property one of these days. Someone needs to teach someone a lesson.

  11. Anonymous says:

    This place is going to be trashed in 5 to 10 years.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Farmers in the eastern districts have been begging the Government to help them gain access to their land (that they are farming on). Do they get help? Nope. The Government is brining a bill to the House to amend access to CERTAIN properties. Does the Minister of Agriculture include any mention of addressing the issue of property access, for the farmers???? Nope!!!

    The wealthy clear without approval, to the j ow ledge of their FRIENDS and FAMILY on the CPA and in the DOE (don’t believe they don’t know about this when it’s happening).

    This is the kind of bs that goes on in Cayman. Policy is determined by those who have money. The rest don’t matter.

    • Anonymous says:

      Farmers in Cayman, as everywhere else in the world, get all sorts of Govt assistance paid for by the taxpayers. In Cayman this just leads to interior roads covered with piles of empty feed bags and other garbage that they just throw down. The East End farm road is basically a dump site from one end to the other. The Premier and the Leader of the Opposition must surely see this as they drive to their farms.

    • Anonymous says:

      I beg to differ. “Policy is determined by those who have money” Nope. It is determined only by those in the know with connections or a membership to a ‘club’. Which, coincidentally, have money.

      Please feel free to downvote if you disagree.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The constitution bill of rights section 18 includes a right to the protection of the environment… so while we are speaking on human rights etc in terms of gay rights, the government are ignoring our right to the environment. A body that constantly allows the degradation of the environment and then makes after the fact approvals is in breech of its constitutional role and the membership, having proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they do not intend to uphold that responsibility, should be immediately terminated and replaced by persons who will perform their role properly.

  14. Chris Johnson says:

    I have been fighting the CPA decisions for years on the Balboa building and four or five ‘after-the-fact applications. Finally after a delay of about four years my appeal will be heard by the tribunal next week.

    Laws and regulations are designed for a purpose and should not be wantonly ignored by developers. Enforcement should react quicker than do. When everyone can see a crane on the ironshore and rocks pulled out of the water and then dumped in the water, the public should alert the Enforcement division for the sake of the wellbeing of the Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t know you, Chris, but I feel the same way concerning the robbing of Caymanians by the people who our leaders are supposedly protecting.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        You do not have to know me. Just stand up for your rights.

        Caymaians need make more noise about the destructive forces on the island.

        Carpe Diem

    • Anonymous says:

      No Enforcement is only for the poorer class, not the rich and famous.

  15. Just the facts ma'am, just the facts. says:

    So, Eric James Bergstrom-Grant Management, seeking after-the-fact approval of already completed coastal works, are granted said approval by the Central Planning Authority (of which his brother, Kris Bergstrom is a sitting Board member) and only a slap-on-the wrist $1,000 fee is levied. Ok, I understand now.

    • Anonymous says:

      the Central Planning Authority (of which his brother, Kris Bergstrom is a sitting Board member)

      Ha ha ha ha ha … couldn’t make it up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Drive down Elizabeth steet West Bay!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh, you mean his brother Kris who sits on the board and is also a developer himself. Well, who would have guessed.

      Cayman governance at it’s finest. Rotten.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree the “optics” don’t look too good, but inevitably Kris would have recused himself , if indeed he showed up at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes. This is the approximate equivalent of fining me $10.00 for an infraction, which is to say zero motivation for being in compliance with the law.

      ATF fines should be much more prohibitive. 10 times the cost of filing a permit. What a joke. This kind of violation is all too common here.

      If you have the money, you can do whatever you choose in these three islands, regardless of the existing laws.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Compare the last name of the owner to a last name on the CPA and you know it will be approved.

    Also, the DOE isn’t saying don’t build. It’s saying no to clearing when there is no building proposed at all. The owner just made a wasteland of the place for no reason and without permission.

    If you want to build your house, fine. But leave the trees and parrots alone until you are actually ready to build your house.

  17. J Ebank says:

    What are we going to do with our land if we can’t build? Is the Govt going to buy it all back at market rates because we can’t develop?

    • Anonymous says:

      Read the article! It says they have no plans to develop they just cleared the land for the hell of it! Destroying habitat for no reason what so ever!

      • Anonymous says:

        There is a reason. Clearing it makes it more desirable to a buyer / developer.

        • Anonymous says:

          And more likely to kill of any wild life and flood properties near by if a hurricane hits. Get your head out of the sand!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Only those with strong faith in a certifiably corrupt application process would dare to apply after already having done something. Everybody knows the rules. The landowner should have been fined for jumping the approval process. Those that willingly disregarded the absence of a permit should have their TBL suspended for 6 months. Financial consequences are the only way to stop this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is this civil breach or criminal disregard for these parties (land owner, clearing company, CPA members)?

  19. Anonymous says:

    With no enforcement of laws Cayman islands is a lawless place that pretends to be an island that follows laws. Great for a certain kind of person to live.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Assuming there is a relationship, the original Eric Bergstrom must be spinning in his grave…..

  21. Anonymous says:

    A travesty

  22. Anonymous says:

    Big yawn. With these ongoing infringements by the rich, there is no way there can be any penalties applied to anyone else wishing doing the same at their properties. So just scrap the applicable laws and regulations, as clearly they are useless.

  23. Anonymous says:

    After the fact my ass! For what it’s worth we might as well just shut down the planning department. It is a total free-for-all out there!

    • Anonymous says:

      Which one of the CPA can hit an nail with a hammer and it it goes straight into the wood? We need qualified people with common sense that isn’t common these days to check plans /locations and make sure development should b3 approved, otherwise it should be disapproved or revised. Some are there only for the money or to keep their businesses operating. Too bad some intelligent/qualified people couldn’t be selected for the CPA board. Time to seek for a Director as well.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Private sector strikes again.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Wonder if this will be written about in the Compass?

    • Anonymous says:

      Nope, they seem to be living in a parallel universe entertaining themselves with bio buttons of all sorts (3 articles), digital nomads, super yachts, resort bubbles etc.
      For some reason they seem to conveniently “forget” that traditionally mega rich’ vacation destinations don’t include the stench of rotting, disease ridden, animal decompiding toxic dumps.

      • Company Men says:

        Haha. Spot on! The old rag, hanging on by a thread newspaper can’t shutdown fast enough.

        At this point, Cayman Compass is just another mouthpiece and ‘conversation starter, trying to influence public opinion. Well, luckily it’s hardly read these days.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only for those who pay for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know right!? But I’m certainly not paying to have a look. I don’t even check their headlines anymore. But do come back and let us know if you find out.

    • Anonymous says:

      Compass is cutting the branch it is sitting on. With zero published comments, meaning there is very little traffic to Compass articles, who would want to advertise with them? Unless of course DoT finances them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Any real journalism died there a long time ago. It’s now just a GIS and private sector press release collator that you have to pay for, with pop up ads. No thanks.

  26. Why? says:

    Destroying the environment again to further cement our destiny to wither away from climate change. A place where replanting flora will get you charged for conspiring to supply and use.

    Totally fine to rape the environment dry with little to no repercussions but, godspeed for the poor ones who want to plant a single cannabis seed as they’ll be charged for some conspiracy under some drug law even, when the plant would be grown for aesthetic pleasure only.

    It’s wrong to plant a seed and watch it sprout and grow into something beautiful and exotic.

    However, it’s completely fine to tear down trees and mangroves that support life and beauty without so much as a sliver of consideration for the rest of the Island.

    This is why big change is coming. This is why people are asking questions. These are the times we live in and people are asking why????

  27. Anonymous says:

    Meantime $10,000 fine and 2 years jail time are proposed for COVID breaches. Unfreaking believable.

    • Anonymous says:

      The government’s priorities are stated very well through their actions. They care not for island they claim to love and call home. The money they are making allows them to move when this place has completely changed and is a shell of its former self. When they have financial freedom to go anywhere, they don’t really care about a particular place. On to the next one for those calling the shots.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is exactly what needs to happen, and more for the developers who know better and are happy to pay a $1,000 fine. The ramifications should be painful, and not just something they can build into their project budget.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Well done!!! Proud of my Cayman people! Well done. Keep up the good work and dig away all our mangroves.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, wonder if our venerable media publisher will carry this story?

  30. Anonymous says:

    Oh come on. Enough is enough! Stop screwing over our country – without a healthy environment we are nothing. No matter how much money we make in the process of destroying it!

  31. Anonymous says:

    All you stinking cry babies need to shut up. Thank you CPA for your forward thinking and pro building mandate even though you face all this hateful press coverage. Thank goodness these progressive men know what our great country needs!

    • Anonymous says:

      Progressive men? I was here wondering how we could get a few good women on the board to help Ms. Pineda talk some sense into these jackasses. Seriously how can we get rid of half of them.?

    • Anonymous says:

      Paving over?

    • Very proud boys. says:

      @ 12:09 am Progressive men? Do you mean those who are unapologetic about their creation of the modern world? Those men?

    • Anonymous says:

      Nothing wrong with progress but maybe have a think about it before Cayman ends up looking like Miami Beach! Build inland instead of tearing up the coastline!!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Once again the efforts to assail and attack the rights of Caymanian landowners are stronger than ever. Someone needs to put a stop to this malarkey!

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