Mangroves, pond threatened by millionaire’s subdivision

| 16/03/2021 | 79 Comments
Cayman News Service
Pond under threat from the Shamrock Road subdivision

(CNS): The Department of Environment has laid out a catalogue of problems with a subdivision application that is going before the Central Planning Authority this week, including the removal of over 50 acres of mangroves, the destruction of an important freshwater pond and a canal that is very likely to pose serious future water quality problems. In the latest list of developments going before the board, the proposed project by millionaire Ergun Berksoy in Prospect, off Shamrock Road, includes five apartment lots, 74 residential lots, 10 road lots, a commercial lot and a canal.

An earlier version of the project was already approved by the CPA last year. But proposed changes have brought the project back before the board and the DoE, on behalf of the National Conservation Council, is raising the alarm again about the dangers of this proposal.

Berksoy, who owns a chain of hotels in Turkey, moved to the Cayman Islands in 2003 and began investing in property before becoming a partner in the Crystal Caves. He was granted status by the Cabinet in 2017.

His application for the subdivision change includes extending what is already a problematic canal, the removal of partially seasonally flooded mangroves and the destruction of a pond which straddles a neighbouring property, which has become an important habitat for a variety of birds and other species.

The DoE said it does not support the application for a catalogue of reasons. Among them the department said the request for a longer canal will compound the flushing problems that existed with the original shorter application in an area where the canal system was never properly engineered and developed piecemeal. The prevailing winds will push debris to the end of the canal, where it will collect or sink, decreasing water quality.

“A dead-end canal of this length will have little flushing or circulation,” the experts warned, adding that they regularly deal with complaints about poor water quality in poorly-flushed canals, which can be very difficult and costly to retrospectively address, as it advised the CPA not to grant the application.

At the very least, the experts urged the board to request a flushing analysis study or to only allow a canal shallow enough for light to penetrate and seagrass to grow, and a natural filtration that can encourage other natural marine flora and fauna, which contribute to better water quality.

The DoE also raised concerns about the loss of a significant amount of mangroves, a critical but threatened plant that continues to be the victim of the relentless local development on Grand Cayman. Raising the alarm again about this continual onslaught against mangroves, the DoE said that everything should be done to retain them as part of the public space that will be required for a development of this size.

One of the department’s major problems with this development is the impact on a freshwater pond which straddles the property in question and a neighbouring landowner’s property. The pond, which has a special natural beauty, supports local bird populations, including West Indian whistling ducks, green herons and great blue herons. But the proposal to build a road on the applicant’s land would likely destroy the entire pond as a result of the clearing and filling. During construction there will also be sediment run off into the pond, along with the generation of turbidity.

“A fundamental purpose of the regulation of planning and development is to help avoid these types of negative impacts on neighbours from development,” the DoE said, as it pointed out that the negative impacts of the work would breach the Development and Planning Regulations.

As a solution, the DoE has suggested that the land the developer will be required to set aside for public use should be relocated to the north of the pond and that the proposed road be realigned, which will also help preserve the mangroves in the area. “The pond would be a beneficial amenity to users in the proposed subdivision because they would have a natural space they could also enjoy,” the DoE said.

The landowners where the pond is located, the late Justice Charles Quin’s family, have tended what they have dubbed the ‘Quin’tessential Pond’ over the last decade and encouraged the natural habitat attracting the birds and other wildlife to create a sanctuary. They have objected to the development and made an extensive submission detailing the impact it will have on their land, in particular the pond and the mangroves.

The development attracted a significant number of objections from neighbouring land- and homeowners, including two more neighbours alongside the Quin family. While these three objectors are being considered by the CPA, several others have been rejected because they were, according to the CPA agenda, received too late and their submissions have been redacted on the planning agenda.

See the full details of the application, the DoE submissions and the objections on this week’s CPA Agenda, which has also been added to the CNS Library.


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

Comments (79)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Good grief! Caymanians you need to wake up and see what’s taking place in front you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Trust me. We see it. What would you have us do while we’re the minority here on our own land?

  2. Anonymous says:

    ALT (island’s largest building supplies merchant), RW (roofing contractor and developer), KW (architect and developer) – just 3 members of the current Central Planning Authority. Go figure!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Approving something like this when Shamrock Road 3 lane extension is still stalled is a recipe for disaster.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If we are able to get the PPM out, the first thing that needs to be done is to get rid of Al’t and that entire Planning Board. So much conflict of interest and always in favor of the developers…Wonder if they are giving Berksoy any concessions? Joey, what say you? What’s the price tag for this one?

  5. Anonymous says:

    This what Alden wants for Red Bay?

    How in the world could Planning approve this? Did Alden have Berksoy meet with his constituents to get their feedback?

    How is this going to impact the amount of traffic on the Hurley’s roundabout? Building a perimeter road from Red Bay is not going to help. The only thing that will do is flood traffic through hurleys in the morning to get on the same roundabout that they always get on..

    What is Berksoy doing to alleviate all of the infrastructure and other concerns that the people of Red Bay may have? Does he even know or care about what their concerns are? Does Alden?

    Something stinks to high heaven here and it’s not the ponds or canlas.

    Where is the Governor? Where is Alden on this?

    • Hubert says:

      11:15, The Governor does not get involved with matters like this. We have stripped him of most of his powers the past 10 years. When are Caymanians going to understand this fact?

      We are masters in our own house and have no one to blame but ourselves.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hubert, Caymanians ALWAYS want someone to blame, usually the Governor/UK or “foreigners”, for problems they create themselves. God only knows how they will cope when they become independent and really and truly and obviously to all have no one to blame but themselves.

        • D. Truth says:

          Scary, isn’t it? “Statesman” must not have been in the Caymanian dictionary!
          (But “Honorable” is O.K. for woman beaters and drunks in the Cayman Members of Parliament.)

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is a pity that we have certain former politicians say their two cents but the truth of the matter they two did not do anything different than the present law makers. Greed and money are each others shadow.

    New blood is needed in Parliament now. Save Cayman for future generations. Please do not be bought by anyone and each day, for those who earn a seat, remember you are a representative of the people first and foremost and your pay is not a right but an utter most privilege.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The I see it, CPA should require approval from DoE before they can even give their approval on projects of this scale.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is the type of people PPM likes to attract to Cayman.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is actually very simple. You don’t want development, DON’T SELL THE LAND or BUY THE LAND YOURSELF

    This land was SOLD AND BOUGHT LEGALLY!!

    There are LAWS, and ZONING REGULATIONS in Cayman, and your wants and virtuous desires WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S LEGAL PROPERTY are NOT LAWS nor REGULATIONS.

    Why don’t you sanctimonious environmentalist (with other people property) DONATE _YOUR_ LAND so we can transform it back into magroves habitats for whistling ducks??

    Not so hot on that idea are you?? All you people back there in Red Bay didn’t any problems destroying mangroves in building ****>> YOUR <<**** LAND did you?

    • Anonymous says:

      You can sell the land all you want. Its the swamp lands that cause problems after. The buyer should know this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why don’t you STOP SHOUTING!

    • Really getting down says:

      You 2:34 pm are really an arse of the nth degree. The people who have built in the area have built in a moderate way, which has not affected the environment and certainly not in the way the Turk and his buddy Architect have conceived this project.

      You and others who have this thesis about they sold their land need to understand that yes people sell their properties for a good price and in most cases because they need money. Notwithstanding you fail to realize that they don’t have any control over what is done with the land, however the “government” and its public institutions are all created to protect not just some but all of the people and the environment which they inhabit, failing which arses like you and the developers will destroy it all for the sake of prominence. This developer who has also built a wall opfacing the beach of his 7 mile beach structure has also largely affected the trajectory of the sand between royal palms and the Marriott where the public beach is practically non existent now and you arises talk about having the right, no they don’t have the right to affect the lives of the larger public, they don’t and they won’t. If this shit keeps up there will be a lot of bloody sorrow in this land.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Why was he granted Cabinet status? Anyone know?

    • Anonymous says:

      I guess he couldn’t afford the annual fees for residency.

    • JS says:

      Doesn’t Cabinet makes the final decision on all status grants? He was here from 2003, so obviously lived here for 14 years by what is written in the article. And would most likely have gone through the process like everyone else??

      • Anonymous says:

        No he didn’t..His status was never approved through the ordinary channels..Alden approved it in Cabinet.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, Cabinet does not, but the board Cabinet appoints does.

        • Anonymous says:

          Generally the Cayman Status and Permanent Residency Board does, however, the law allows for Cabinet itself to grant a certain number each year. Last year, just before Christmas, I think Cabinet issued 4, one of which was very questionable. The individual contributed nothing, has I assets and is likely to become another NAU liability, smh

    • Hubert says:

      2:30, No big secret. For great contributions to real estate development in the Cayman Islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        Any specifics? Why not just apply through the regular process. Just requires some fees and paperwork.

    • Anonymous says:

      His main man is well connected, and then there’s Mac….

  11. Anonymous says:

    DOE opposes everything…..everything. Unless you decide to live in a tree, they will oppose.

    Do these people live in tents? I am sure there were plants and animals living on the plot of land you dwell in before they were removed to put in a concrete foundation for a house and clearing of land for a yard.

    Every development of any kind gets predictable objections from neighbors of vacant land (“does not fit with the character”, “adds more traffic”). And DOE (“removing natural vegetation”).

    CNS: Pure hyperbole. When the press reports on a development it tends to be because it is large or controversial or both, which means that the DoE will have something to say because that is their part in the process. Often the DoE are not opposing the project but are pointing out environmental issues and how to mitigate them – which is their job. Theoretically the CPA weighs what would be lost against what would be gained as part of the approval process (though in most cases the first part of the equation is just ignored), and takes into account the input from a number of agencies as well as letters of objection. Basically, you are confusing the DoE’s job with the CPA’s.

    • Anonymous says:

      2:10, Developers have certainly been lording it over the DOE the past 20 years. A near total failure because with the exception of Wayne Panton, there has been zero political will to do anything about the environment.

    • Anonymous says:

      What CNS said. You confuse CPA with DoE.
      You also denigrate the neighbor’s objections of ‘is out of keeping with surrounding development and will directly disturb my land and my enjoyment of my land’. (In general, not just in this instance.)

  12. Anonymous says:

    Unlikely! Not with the obvious support for all and any development by the last few Governments and specifically stated by Alden McLaughlin and McKeeva Bush (separately) as a main pillar of any Government of theirs in the future!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Note, there is a prominent member of the CPA who works for Mr. Berksoy. Would be interesting to know if he recused himself from any meetings considering his client’s applications.

  14. Upset says:

    For a Covid-19 pandemic, we have never seen so much development and construction sites! When most Caymanians can’t even afford a 1000 dollar apartment, who will be residing in these extravagant places! I have never seen so much buildings going up! I am concern the powers-that-be know full well what’s going on. Perhaps the Premier, Finance Minister, FCO, or Governor. Because they have not done anything yet as far as I know to reduce the cost of living; or, make it easier for Caymanians to do business in their own country! I must ask, what is the long-term plan for Caymanians? Is there an agenda to have Caymanians economically pressured to leave the country for the Uk or elsewhere, and then replace them with wealthy expats to reside at these newly built sites. Because no ordinary Caymanian can afford them! I could think of no other reason but to turn this island into some retirement home for certain expats. Where are our leaders to reduce the cost of living, and amidst this all – SAVE OUR ECO-SYSTEM

    • Anonymous says:

      There are two types of local business that the FATF considered risk for money laundering in Cayman – real estate and dealers in precious metals and stones. These 2 types of business are now regulated by the DCI just as mutual funds or banks are regulated by CIMA.

      Fun fact, the AML Regulations were amended to include property developers as well because research showed the lack of regulation makes property development an easy way to pad books and legitimize illegal funds. Magically, though, that amendment was snatched back and property developers are no longer required to comply with anti-money laundering measures – only real estate sales agents are caught.

      See where I am going with this?

      • Anonymous says:

        Property is the obvious ‘money dump’ and should be highly regulated. Why is it that people can just turn up, buy land or property and do what the hell they like unopposed?

        • Anonymous says:

          Unapposed…?
          You must be joking, the financial and bureaucratic time and cost of doing any development here , added to AML checks and so on weeds out 98 percent of all would be investors.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Younger generations worldwide are pleading that we do not destroy so much natural habitat that they’ll never get back. Please support private and public efforts to advocate protecting those things that are more valuable than commerce and maintain our quality of life.

  16. Anonymous says:

    We need to pause our progress for a few months to take the time to complete a review of overall development plans. Land development does not take place in isolation. The infrastructure, Environmental, social, etc. factors HAVE to be considered.
    Otherwise our grandchildren will end up with a large hodge-podge of developments worse that what we are enduring.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I’m all for preserving the environment but a balance has to be found DoE can’t oppose every single project that comes there way. Better do your homework before you buy property to develop you can spend millions of dollars purchasing property here in the caymans and there’s a good chance you might not be able to do nothing with it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you even read the article? DOE is not opposing the project outright. They have suggested changes to make the development more sustainable.

      • Anonymous says:

        “Sustainable” now there’s a word that’s thrown around by every treehugger without knowing what it means..

    • Anonymous says:

      “The caymans”? I gather you not from here bobo

    • Anonymous says:

      “oppose every single project that comes there way. Better do your homework”

      Their way. Grade 2 homework. Just sayin’. Oh and “the caymans ” classic give away.

    • _||) says:

      Saying or typing “the caymens” should be immediate grounds for deportation I swear to Jah

  18. Anonymous says:

    Oh goody!! Besides further destruction of something that the regular Caymanian does not understand, more cars/traffic to contend with since no further roads/infrastructure are included to fit for purpose.

    You people are MAD!! Mad fools!! LOL

  19. Anonymous says:

    The very idea that this would get approved is beyond contemptible! If a government agency allows this continual destruction of the natural resources of the island to be destroyed then that agency should be totally evaluated and put on notice!

  20. J .A .Roy Bodden says:

    Writing in 1974 ,the Swedish anthropologist Ulf Hannerz asked, “When Caymanians have sold all that land which is attractive to outsiders and when their men have built the houses which the new owners want ,what will they do next? What jobs will be open to Caymanians in the new economy in the long run? Will they become a proletariat of beach hustlers , bar tenders and hotel maids ,with few entrepreneurs in those crevices of the local economy left un attended by foreign business and foreign capital?”.

    Much earlier (1953) Commissioner (Governor )Andrew Morris Gerrard warned us as Caymanians against selling our birthright (the land )for “a mess of pottage”. In my 1978 landmark study of Caymanian society ,I posed the question “For whom are we developing?”. Hannerz questions , Gerrard’s admonition and my question are as relevant today as they ever were. It should be painfully obvious that our current economic plan (if indeed there is one )is unsustainable.

    To continue to sell our birthright to outsiders and to destroy the environment to facilitate greedy and rapacious developers is an unmitigated disaster in the making. Climatologists have warned us that climate change will mean more powerful hurricanes ,constant beach erosion and greater extremes in climate variation. The mangroves have for centuries been our buffer against storm surge as well as the spawning grounds for numerous marine species.

    In destroying the mangroves we are “sowing the wind” and like the the Biblical aphorism reminds us, “if we sow the wind ,we shall surely reap the whirlwind”. The unfortunate truth is that these same developers whose greed allowed them to ruin these islands will move on to ruin someplace else and leave those of us with no alternative to “pick up the pieces”.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      Nicely put Roy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well … since 1974, thousands of Caymanians have received college educations and no longer have to a “proletariat of beach hustlers.” Even Roy can’t deny that the average Caymanian lives better now than the average Caymanian in 1974, or that there are a lot more above average or highly above average Caymanians living fabulous lives – way more than the privileged merchant class of the 70s here.

        • Anonymous says:

          Sure, 1984 was better than 1974. However, by 2004 the standard of living of most Caymanians began a now accelerating decline.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not a disaster in the making really is it Roy? More like a disaster that has happened, and is still happening.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr. Roy I am a Caymanian like you. You retired from politics unfortunately and could easily come back into Bodden Town. The Eastern District has to grow and do its part for the betterment of the country. Development is all we have. Unless you’ve been hiding a secret of what else can we do? Bodden Towners enjoy their lives the way it is. But the youth of Bodden Town need more and want more and shouldn’t be deprived of opportunities to achieve. They with their own families want more than just employment. They want opportunities with their children that will allow them to own businesses and developments because of land rich and cash poor restrictions. A person with a job can’t go as far as a person with land. It has been going for thousands of years. A person couldn’t possibly be thinking that my neighbors who had money that when the opportunity came that they wouldn’t want the same thing. Well, unfortunately we don’t have anything to sell besides land. No matter what kind of land it is.
      Woe it would be if the world declared that all developments on the beaches around the world would have to be torn down and placed at least 500 feet back. They discovered thats why there is beach erosion. No matter how much you spent on your development a special fund would now declare its only worth “X” Can you imagine?
      You remember all the cattle that would use the swampland during the offseason May through November? All those luscious mosquitoes? No off spray? We did that for hundreds of years. Where did the environmentalists come from? Never seen or heard from them during those times.
      When Ivan pass through once from the South and once from the North, eight to nine feet of water. The trees were knocked down. The swamp didn’t stop the ocean. The coral barrier reef did though. Concrete walls stop the ocean not wood. I don’t know anybody who finds the mangrove fun to walk through.

  21. Anonymous says:

    But he builds such nice structures that fit so well into Cayman’s landscape.

  22. Anonymous says:

    He also wins the prize for owning the ugliest “finished” building in Cayman.

  23. Naya Boy says:

    Let me lay layout in the simplest form for Objectors of this type of environmental quagmire. The more fuss the more hell raised the more noise brought it merely acts as virtual fundraiser for those involved from the contractor to architect. Who uses this dissent, objections and public outcry to substantially increase his fees. Our Government Mafia now has learned to get in on this Gravey train$$$$ by appointing a middleman /building consultant to broker these difficulties where he acts as a arbitrator between the public and government agencies concerned in approval of such detrimental to the environment projects. His exorbitant/ extortion fees will reflect this. Mr Berksoy has his own people on CPA who acts in his interest like many developers who may or may not recuse themselves from time to time. No Corruption according our Governor or government because they all work in unison of the common goal of making money. A government who protects business only is but a carcass and soon falls by its own corruption and decay. We do not need international help to stop corruption Cayman we need strong Leadership on 14th of April 2021 Make the Change!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Guy with deep pockets will get what he wants. That is how it works here.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t these people that moving here from their countries just appreciate living here tax free and stop destroying the dam island, how long will their money last

  26. Anonymous says:

    Not MY f*****g Mangroves!!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Everybody objects to any development next to their place. If people want undeveloped land next to them to not be developed, suggest they buy the adjacent land (or the government buy the land).

    But a landowner who purchases land in good faith that is zoned for development should have the right to develop.

    • Anonymous says:

      What if it is zoned low density housing and five apartment lots, 74 residential lots, 10 road lots, a commercial lot and a canal is proposed?

      • Anonymous says:

        Depends on the size of the bit of land, dunnit?

        • Anonymous says:

          Not if that land wasn’t previously zoned for that type of development, is the posters point you missed. Deliberately? or naively?

  28. SSM345 says:

    I wonder if his development is as hideous as his house across from Wendy’s on WB Rd?

    That should be enough to put a halt to the development; let alone the environmental implications.

  29. Cheese Face says:

    His house on SMB is just lovely, it fits in perfectly and is not in the least bit over the top or ugly as **** with all the gold trimmings. He sounds like a great guy and a super addition to Caymans community. Well done CI Gov!

  30. Anonymous says:

    “50 acres of mangroves”??? In ten years it wont be worth anything, because by then it will all be under water.

    Fools.

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