CPA to hear Balboa Beach after-the-fact application

| 01/09/2020 | 78 Comments
Cayman News Service
Unapproved boardwalk at Balboa Beach

(CNS): Ten years after the Central Planning Authority issued after-the-fact permission to the owners of Balboa Beach for an original take-away restaurant and following five enforcement notices and six infractions of the planning law, the owners of the waterfront site have made another application seeking permission for work done without authority. The application, which is expected to be heard Wednesday, was made as even more unapproved work was carried out there this summer.

The site has caused significant concern for the Department of Environment, which believes that the owners have consistently flouted planning laws and have done long-term damage to the marine environment in the area. The DoE also argues that the project should have gone through the coastal works application process before going to the Central Planning Authority in the first place.

In this latest application the owners, Waterfront Centre Limited, are seeking after-the-fact permission for the placement of rocks along a dock on the seabed, filled land and expansion of a dock, and the laying of a concrete slab on the ironshore.

But since the application was made in the early COVID-19 lockdown further work has begun on a boardwalk on the ironshore that has no planning permission, and an enforcement notice had been expected to be issued last month.

Given the history of the site and the constant infractions of planning laws, from dumping foreign sand to laying concrete slabs along the shoreline of a marine park, the DoE is urging the CPA not to grant this application.

“The department is very concerned at the extent of unauthorised works which have taken place on this site, including the works which are the subject of this application,” the DoE stated in its submissions to planning on behalf of the National Conservation Council, pointing out that this development is in a Marine Protected Area.

Cayman News Service
Balboa Beach in March 2018

“As a consequence of these and several other un-permitted works which have taken place over the years, including the repeated use of construction aggregate as beach sand and the removal in some areas of underwater ironshore formations in some areas, the nearshore area and immediate offshore environment is now considerably degraded,” DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie wrote in a comprehensive memo to the planning department.

“These works have likely contributed to enhanced levels of sedimentation and excessive mechanical damage to underwater features from loose unconsolidated quarried rocks, that were used as fill material, being washed around by storm events and heavy wave action,” she further noted.

The DoE said the cumulative effective of the work at this site, especially given its proximity to the fish market, has increased marine algae in the nearshore and that the negative impact on water quality is evident. The sediments and beach in the area are often black or grey in colour with a strong odour, exhibiting the anoxic characteristics of a highly disturbed environment.

Ebanks-Petrie wrote that the DoE “does not support the filling of the submerged ironshore and recommends that no further filling and/or concreting of the area takes place. As regards the unconsolidated fill that was placed in the sea, this has now been widely dispersed across the seabed and is no longer in the position that it was originally placed. It will likely continue to cause damage to the marine environment through the ongoing attrition caused by the suspension and movement of these rocks during wave activity. The purpose of this after-the-fact application is therefore unclear.”

The question over the coastal works licence requirement remains in dispute as Lands and Survey has said that there was land where the works have taken place in the past. The question mark over where the high water mark used to be and where it is now is why the development ended up before the CPA rather than Cabinet, which usually decides coastal works applications.

But regardless of where the land once was, the reality is where the high water mark is now and that the development is having a seriously detrimental impact on a marine park, as the DoE has confirmed.

Meanwhile, the neighbouring landowners have also been objecting to the development as it is thwarting their efforts to retain a natural waterfront environment on their property. In the objection to this application, Chris Johnson, the owner of Shireoak Limited, said the project is currently under appeal and a high water mark survey is required to address the question of the requirement for a coastal works application, given that the project is largely on the Queen’s Bottom (the area of seabed between the mean high water mark and twelve nautical miles offshore).

As a result the CPA should not green-light what is happening on this site, Johnson’s attorney’s stated in the letter of objection.

See Wednesday’s planning agenda here.

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

Comments (78)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Governor sir, if you are so unconcerned with the wishes of the majority with regards to forcing a gay marriage law, then please get off your PAN and make a PLAN to see that the rule of law and “good governance” is enforced with regards to the CPA and the Planning and Environmental LAWS!

    Thank you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is odd that while Cayman bangs on about being a fully compliant, modern jurisdiction, anxious to highlight and root out all aspects of corruption, nepotism, conflicts of interests, etc, the CPA still plods on regardless, stuffed with contractors and chaired by a building supplies supremo. It’s like a little oasis of the good ol’ days when everything was decided over a coffee and a pattie by the good ol’ boys.

    It REALLY needs sorting out. Immediately.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Vote with your feet, or in this case your drinking money. If people didn’t go there they wouldn’t be able to keep expanding.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Balboa Beach owners….don’t stress yourselves over these petty comments. We all know ALT has your back. Wink, wink.

  5. Maladministration Cycle says:

    Surely these types of coastal works fall under the purview of Cabinet?

  6. Cayman’s Real pandemic says:

    Give them another 4 more years and there will be absolutely nothing left Cayman! Allow those now handpicked and groomed for leadership who are clearly bought and paid for by even greater special interest to get re-elected you will be fighting for much more than Balboa beach. Your very lives and that of your childrenwill be put at stake or hang in the balance.Listening to those who broke away from this group who have their own selfish agenda parading as saviors are merely only seeking revenge or retribution are not going to cut it either because they Come from the same political mold and came or were elected to power through the very same corrupt path.Finally the prostitutes who go around spreading descent and stirring animosity backing news for political dinosaurs believing they will somehow reap rewards for their sick loyalty. you are merely the rats who feed on their rotten and corrupt agenda’s and are merely the rungs of the ladder that keeps them in power above your idiotic heads .Goodluck with your little board appointment the big money $$ still eludes you eh!

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      The Dump is here to stay. Unless another direct hit hurricane spreads it around the rock turning it into a wasteland for several decades. Make sure you have a second home somewhere.
      Unfortunately born and bred Caymanians would have to declare ecological catastrophe and become refugees. Or relocate to sister islands to repeat the cycle of destruction.

  7. Anonymous says:

    When the chairman of the board (ALT) in planning owns the store that sells these businesses their materials, what do you think is going to happen? Huge conflict of interest.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is there a limit on how many terms a person can be chairman of a board? Just wondering?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why the bother, CPA is going to grant the after the fact applications just like they always do to those who destroy the mangroves and come hand on heart saying I’m sorry. CPA is an absolute waste of oxygen. Look who is on it.. Ever heard of CONFLICT OF INTEREST?? but this is Cayman. It will be granted, watch and see.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we should sit in on the work. Why wait on gov. we should go and protect this area until the owners follow the law.

  10. Anonymous says:

    To bad they don’t give jail time for people like this.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’d like one day to see an after the fact arrest. At least that would make sense.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This makes me wonder about the Ugliest House In Cayman (apart from that Turkish bordello on WBR). I mean that caramel-wafer-clad monstrosity that has been going up on South Sound Road for four or five years, which reportedly was stopped by Planning because of its stupid staircase on to the road. I notice that that’s going ahead again at full speed, with the stairs still there. Another deal done with the CPA?

    Who on earth designs these ghastly slums?

    • Anonymous says:

      LMAO. I have thought exactly the same thing of both these residences

    • Anonymous says:

      And being built by another in the know. This time a connected real estate agent.

      Love the bordello comment

    • Anonymous says:

      Never been a better time to build.

      • Jotnar says:

        Funny but absolutely true. Govt so desperate to promote construction as a boost to economic stimulus that Cabinet and the CPA will probably approve anything. Look at the massive increase in planning applications. Developers know if they apply now it will get nodded through, even if they dont pour concrete for another year or so. And in securing the planning permission, massively increase the value of their landholding without even developing it.

    • Anonymous says:

      No one qualified or licensed as an architect in the Cayman Islands, but the stamp says yes so…

    • Anonymous says:

      Hopefully the owners will not have rowdy parties as some will come tumbling down on to traffic!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I was wondering why the water is always so terrible there when I always remember it being clear and you could always see the tarpon. Thank God the cruise ship dock never happened or all the water would look like that.

    They should fine these idiots and make them take it all up and clean it all up.

    • banon says:

      Just another day in the whacky private sector!! Don’t worry CIG to the rescue.

      Come on private sector try and do something, anything right.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you not understand that the whole issue arises out of a potentially corrupt failure of multiple government agencies to do their job over several years?

      • Anonymous says:

        Why even bother with boards? No one follows the rules and guidelines and they is always a loop hole embedded to be pulled out at the opportune time? These boards members are like a mini government, making up their own laws/rules especially to benefit the wealthy but they will harrass to frazzles a cash strapped person if one nail or screw is missed. Just wondering if there is even one faur-minded, honest, caring about our” Beloved Cayman” person out there on these boards with a lick of integrity who can sleep at night with a clear conscience?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Al’T is shining up the “rubber stamp” in preparation for tomorrow’s CPA meeting..

  15. Anonymous says:

    So the CPA refuses the permit, what then? Answer—nothing. If no one ever has to remove illegal construction, why even apply for permission? This is all pretend.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s right. It’s often just a cost of doing business, ATA factored into the job cost. Read the meeting minutes on both Sister Islands and here. Happens habitually with some companies.

  16. Anonymous says:

    20 posts at 6:30 on this subject. If it had been about gay rights etc, we would have had about 90 by this time, mostly from the Christians terrified that God, the terrifying fairy in the sky, is going to punish us.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just send a message to CMA telling them it is a gay bar, and women are encouraged to go topless on the beach.

  17. Tundi. says:

    The owners and the family know exactly what they are doing and pi$$ing all over the CPA who will do nothing.
    Anyway what can they do now they have concreted the ironshore, can’t really dig
    It back up

    • Anonymous says:

      Could however confiscate it, including all profits generated.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ssssh. It’s not like we have a Proceeds of Crime Law or anything that could enable a prudent government exercising a diligent enforcement action could take advantage of?

        What are go going to suggest next? That causing damage in a Marine Park warrants a fine of up to $500K?

  18. ANONYMOUS says:

    “ There is something rotten in the court of Denmark “ as Will Shakespeare had it – there is something equally rotten in the court of Cayman when someone can willfully ignore the law with absolutely no repercussions. We all know who is behind this development – what we don’t know is why the CPA has done nothing to stop this work being done – or perhaps we do when we look at the constitution of the Planning Board

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well at least in this instance this is going through the CPA which is a farce but has some transparency. If they were going through a CWL application it would just be approved in the dark by Cabinet with absolutely no transparency. I tried to fight a CWL that would have a tremendous negative impact on one of my properties and I spent thousands on supporting studies and engineering that i submitted to DOE and the Ministry of Environment. The CWL was approved by Cabinet. I spoke to a Minister and he could not recall the approval or any of the documents that I submitted in objection to the CWL.

  20. Lawless Caymanus says:

    When the high and mighty behave like outlaws is it any wonder that the little people take their cue from this?

    While the rich and holier than thou might not use guns and knives to commit their misdeeds, the negative impact on wider society is felt by all.

    So carry on flouting planning, pension, health insurance and other “business” laws at your own peril. But don’t be surprised when someone comes into your gated community and points a gun in your face. He’s just following your example the only way he knows how.

  21. John Wilson says:

    I have hoped for many years that we could get a majority of honest people in our MLA, but as everyone knows, it never happened. It seems that money is the prime driver of our little country.

    It was a great surprise when the voters of the Cayman Islands stood together to stop the skullduggery of our leadership in their unethical effort to cram an unwanted dock down our throats! Isn’t it amazing what the people of Cayman can do when we work together?

  22. Anonymous says:

    I am Caymanian! Where are my rights? Obviously flouting the law with little or no consequences is a right no one else has. Probably why they like Donald Trump so much here…

    • Anonymous says:

      Its a Caymanian family (who we all know who it is) who are behind this, so I don’t fully get your point, and wth has Trump got to do with this, yawn.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Cannot wait until CIG make the beneficial ownership registry public for all companies – we we can have some transparency.

    • C. Ramsey says:

      Do you REALLY think CIG will make the ownership registry public? Why has it been hidden??? Could some of our leaders shed some light on this, or do they all have their hands out?

    • Anonymous says:

      Like you do not know who is behind this?

    • Anonymous says:

      You can find out who the directors of the company are at least if you have the exact legal name of the company. You can search it at the Registry

    • Anonymous says:

      @2:06pm this is local development by Thompson Development – public knowledge since it started. I’m not sure what beneficial ownership would reveal differently. Do you mean like who else behind it?

  24. Anonymous says:

    I recall that on a previous occasion this development project came up, the matriarch of the family behind it wrote a very unpleasant post or letter ( can’t remember which) denigrating Chris Johnson as a foreigner etc and her and her family as multi generational Caymanians blah blah who should be allowed to develop their property. The irony is that Mr Johnson, “the foreigner” (who came here I believe in 1967) is the one trying to preserve Cayman’s heritage and coastline while the multi generational Caymanians are intent on putting up environmentally dubious crappy structures.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is no one willing to give the name of the owners. It is the Thompson family and on this project i understand that Kel Thompson is calling the shots. Remember that the CPA is known for protecting the interest of fellow monied Caymanian. Much the same as our elected officials do in all their dealings.

    • Anonymous says:

      Entitlement attitudes Left from the days when wealthy families owned the town and ran the town.
      The next generation has taken over and grew up with all those who are supposed to enforce the laws. In their minds , the Laws only apply to foreigners.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Entitlement is alive and well in the Cayman Islands.

    • Anonymous says:

      Entitled? They are hardworking families that made money and passed to generations. I don’t see a problem with that. The ones who complain are those who always want what others have but are too lazy to work for it.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Damn no good furrin investors flouting the laws of our land again.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Another example of why we cannot govern ourselves independently… We refuse to follow the rule of law.

    How sad that this happens so often with few if any consequences.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if we’ll now see another nasty Letter to the Editor written by a prominent Caymanian about Chris Johnson.

  29. Infuriated says:

    Another wealthy well connected businessman set up a large container park and building supplies storage siye over a year ago on a South Church St location zoned low density residential. No planning permission was obtained. It’s still there flouting the law and when I complained to Planning I was advised they have not had time to take any legal action as they only have one Compliance Officer in all of Grand Cayman to cover all the breaches of the law. What nonsense is this when we have thousands of Civil Servants but only one Compliance Officer.Why do we bother to have these laws if they are toothless?.

  30. Anonymous says:

    it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Once again, we have no laws OR enforcement of laws in the Cayman Islands. This person / company should be made an example of, and fined / imprisoned to the fullest extent of the law.

  32. Anonymous says:

    AFTER THE FACT PERMISSION????????WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? I guess it is okay in the Cayman Islands to rape someone and when they complain about it, get a lawyer to ask for AFTER THE FACT PERMISSION!!!!! WHAT KIND OF A CONCEPT IS THAT TO BE PROMOTING???? SHAME!!!!

  33. Driftwood says:

    So Caymanian, so who you know, so forget the laws, so acceptable, in this corrupt land.

  34. Anonymous says:

    The Planning Department and perhaps CPA are encouraging these after-the-fact applications and, invariably, approvals. I’ve been dealing with the Department on an issue within my subdivision and was informed by DoP official that the offending property was offered to submit for an after-the-fact approval.

    We saw it with unapproved development in The Shores some months ago and no doubt there are many more. So what’s the purpose of laws, rules or processes if they can be undermined after the fact??

    It’s all about getting revenues no matter the fall-out! Disgusting!!

  35. Anonymous says:


  36. Anonymous says:

    As usual it is easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. I think we all know how this is going to go. If you have a cash you can pay a little “fine” and be on your way. Besides, I am pretty sure all the building materials were purchased at a certain hardware store whose owner is the head of a certain board!

    That’s right, move along folks, nothing to see here.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Boy, just imagine if we had a police force, an anti corruption commission, and the rule of law.

    Governor. Please explain.

  38. Anonymous says:

    The Georgetown Waterfront needs a good sprucing up. Approval of this application would be a good first step. Let nothing stand in the way of progress.

  39. Anonymous says:

    leave them alone.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately this type of repeated disregard for the laws of the land in such a brazen and calculated action is truly unacceptable. This is very different for an isolated incident where one might plead ignorance or lack of knowledge… this is a brazen flouting of the rules. The CPA should truly frown on this and make a ruling that states clearly that this is wrong!

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. This is a question of rule of law. It is less a question of value of the development or value of the environment (wherever you land individually on those questions in this case). Rules is rules and a decade of flouting the rules must be brought to a stop by the CPA for that reason alone.

      • Anonymous says:

        The problem is that the CPA is the most conflicted set of people that ever sat on a board in Cayman! They will never enforce any planning laws. They own construction companies and stores so there is 0 incentive for them to tell (wealthy people who can make money for them) people not to build.

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