Developers warned to maximise set-backs

| 09/02/2021 | 38 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): Impending sea level rise and the impacts of climate change that Cayman will witness in the coming years are still not being taken seriously and the Department of Environment is warning developers that stretching set-backs to the letter of the law puts their projects at serious risk. In submissions to the Central Planning Authority for a proposed resort development on North West Point, the experts said the coastline has a history of storm surge property damage and they should not build too close to the ironshore.

The DoE has been warning even more emphatically recently that coastal set-backs should not be waived in any future developments and existing legal distances are inadequate. As a result, the developers, NWPR Group Ltd, should be maximising the distance between the properties they build and the ocean, regardless of the legal limits, and not taking them to the very limit.

In North West Point, developers are hoping to building a four-storey $12.3 million ‘condo resort’, comprising 30 apartments, a cafe, two oceanfront houses and ancillary features. Following their appearance at the CPA recently, it seems they hope to bring the development as close as possible to the ocean, ignoring the DoE’s warnings.

While the CPA has deferred the application in order to get additional information regarding some agency comments and a clarification of plans, the application has not been refused.

If it goes ahead, the DoE is warning that the usual 50-foot distance from the ocean simply will not be enough for this project, not least because of a “unique geological feature”, namely a fissure, or huge crack, through the ironshore.

While the site of the proposed development has been previously modified, it is adjacent to a marine protected area and is on a high wave energy coastline with deep water offshore. “This stretch of coastline has a history of coastal property damage during storm wave action,” the DoE said in its submissions.

They also said that one of the homes on the plans is “extremely close to” the ironshore fissure and the developers need to take advice about how that could impact the structural integrity of the house, as it will not support filling this area in. The DoE also warned that in the event of a storm, this split could cause even more wave action on the property.

Another issue the DoE raised, which experts are increasingly concerned about, is construction-related debris that developers are allowing to get into the ocean, which is always of concern but more so in marine parks, as is the case for this development.

“We have experienced other developments along the coastline inadvertently polluting the marine environment from wind-borne debris. Practices such as sanding down Styrofoam which is used as part of wall finishing and window moulding can result in Styrofoam beads getting blown into the sea in significant quantities; these beads are very difficult to remove once they enter the water,” the DoE said, as it urged the CPA, if it eventually approves the project, to set conditions that include keeping construction materials well away from the waters edge and that any sanding should be done behind screens to protect the ocean.

The DoE also said that the fissure should not be filled and any work on it must be the subject of separate consultation with the National Conservation Council.

During last week’s CPA hearing, the authority also heard from a West Bay couple who were objecting to the development. The couple have lived at the property for almost forty years and said they were devastated by the proposed project, which will be literally feet from their bedroom window and dominate their small single-story home, which has been on the site for more than 70 years.

See the details of the application on the department of planning website here and go to page 15 of the agenda.

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Category: development, Local News

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    How did Michael Ryan get permission to build Fin Cayman on the ironshore and within 43 feet of the ocean? There is the issue of wave damage but my concern is that the ironshore is a pourous rock that can crush and be compressed. I would be surprised if the ironshore could even support the massive building. The concrete he is pouring on the ironshore won’t help to support the building but I guess it might be sufficient to cover up any cracks. The approach makes sense to me if Michael Ryan wants to make sure the building is in ship shape long enough to sell all the remaining condos. My concern would be that Fin Cayman sinks into the iron shore and leans out towards the ocean. I guess that would be a problem for the new condo owners to resolve.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lots of caves are under there. Let them mess with mother nature. As children, we were always warned to stay away from that iron shore or to be careful out there.

  3. Anonymous says:

    CPA should not have authority to overrule DOE. Setbacks must be respected. If this developer was building for themselves they would want to adhere to setbacks but they are selling off all units and don’t give a hoot what happens to the property after it is sold. Caveat Emptor.

  4. Gentle Reminder says:

    If We don’t stop Alden and his development rampage in this next election, this is not going to matter! Their needs to be Fundamental changes at DOE also, this tiring foolishness that the government ain’t listening is getting very lame indeed and too many are comfortably lazy and enjoying the inaction and hypocrisy of their entitled and very complicit elite political friends and family. Where is our environmental Policy ??

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you mean ‘where is our Development Plan’?
      Setbacks, etc., is a development not environmental policy issue.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I drove all around Grand Cayman after we were told it was safe. South Sound lost a lot of road when 9 feet of water went across from south sound to North Sound. So how many feet from the sea would have stopped that? Well, remember old Rene Hislop place that built that house with a wall on the ocean front? No damage, so what it looks like to me is cement stops storm damage. You can down swear me all you want. But that doesn’t change what I saw. Going to Pease Bay Area from Bodden Town stop at Chester Watler place where 9 feet of sea water flooded inside his building. But no damage to the little house across the street on top of the beach berm. Let’s stop for a minute and realize you could have punched holes in building. Yet no damage to the building? Nope it was still standing. Wasn’t that far from the sea. We have to be honest with our selves. THE WALL in George Town works doesn’t it? It blocks the sea which used to make a pond where fish was caught after a Northwester. How about all the hurricanes that have past since since 1932? We have to stop looking at little islands in the pacific who don’t have the money to construct a proper sea wall. Cuba’s Malecon which is a concrete wall started in 1901 to PROTECT Cuba from Northwesters and hurricanes. How close is that to the sea. Some flooding has happened during hurricanes but buildings are not being knocked down. But let me tell you that those buildings need desperately to be reconstructed or renovated. In my opinion we need to fill in the swamp, 200ft into the land and gently raise the elevation to 20 feet above sea level. There isn’t that amount of sea water past 200 ft into the swamp. People who were on high ground did not have any flooding from the sea.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The key point here is for the developer to make as much cash as possible and leave the island ASAP. Let some other mug live here with a screwed up ecosystem and three feet underwater. What we have in Cayman is effectively the downside of capitalism – greed, conflicts of interest and weak government regulation. And it all starts from the top and what do we have … a government that tolerates violence by its members, tolerates breaches of planning law, doesn’t enforce tax laws against the rich but hammers the poor with excessive duties on basic food.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As long as Alden is Premier and AL’T is in charge of the CPA Board this will continue to happen.

    Follow the money people, follow the money…

    • Anonymous says:

      No, follow the planning regulations.
      They are outdated and need to be revised, urgently, starting with setbacks.
      If you obey the regulations as they stand, you will get planning permission.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Warned?, How about deterrent six figure fines and make them retroactive. Warnings will not stop this madness.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately no one listens to the DoE, especially the Government.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Two words, ‘Never happen.’ Some years ago I went to a property on S Sound Road that had been built right up to the water. The sea had punched it’s way through the sliding doors and dumped the whole beach inside the ground floor – surprise, suprise! I’m not naming the property but 13 years on there are still no viable sea defences to stop it happening again. Developers just don’t care do they?

  11. Anonymous says:

    5 words, higher insurance rates for all

  12. Anonymous says:

    “Practices such as sanding down Styrofoam which is used as part of wall finishing and window moulding can result in Styrofoam beads getting blown into the sea in significant quantities”

    Floating all throughout the North Sound recently… Nice.

  13. Anonymous says:

    As if anyone in authority is going to tell the big developers what to do!! They abide by their own set of rules.

    But what do you expect with developers on the planning board. Pathetic.

  14. Anonymous says:

    You developers need to quit destroying our natural beautiful coastline for cement! Use your imagination and enhance the natural beauty. Why is that so hard guys?!!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    No regard for the environment. When another Ivan comes unfortunately all our insurance rates will go up. Rich people dont care but it will kill the little guy.

    • Anonymous says:

      To the planning dept.

      Beach is gone on SMB as a result of your greed and malfeasance.

      Now the golden goose is disappearing, why the ?7%€×€! dont you deny planning permission when these developers apply for variances???!!!

      Please Cayman, come next election vote them all out!

  16. Anonymous says:

    These developments aren’t marketed to locals. I say if the foreign millionaires want to buy a ship designed to sink, let em.

    • Anonymous says:

      If it was simple as that then I would support your view, 11:35am.

      The fact: these actions will affect us all and that affect will be felt most by the lower income residents.

      We are all in the same boat – used to be Good Ship Cayman.

  17. Anonymous says:

    But global warming and rising seas are a Chinese hoax. Donald Trump and Fox News said so.

  18. Anonymous says:

    CPA does not act in the best interest of the environment and the people. They act in the best interest of the developers. They always have and until a truly impartial board is appointed they always will.

  19. Anonymous says:

    One word: Fin.

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