NCC directs CPA to reject Boggy Sand house plan

| 27/04/2021 | 67 Comments
Cabana at Boggy Sand Beach

(CNS): The National Conservation Council has made a rare move to direct the Central Planning Authority to reject an almost unbelievable application for a house along Boggy Sand Beach, which the CPA is due to hear this week, after experts pointed out that there are absolutely no mitigating measures that could be deployed to make the project viable. The owners want to tear down a wall and a gazebo, which is already structurally unsound because it was allowed to be built far too close to the water, then undertake remedial work and replace the old one-storey cabana with a three-storey house on the same footprint.

In the Department of Environment’s technical submissions on behalf of the NCC, the experts outlined a catalogue of issues with this well-known structure that has caused significant concern ever since it was constructed.

It is one of several applications that the CPA will hear this week that highlight what has been perceived as uncoordinated, runaway development that is now having an impact on the environment, especially the erosion of local beaches and public access to them.

There are no formal objections to this particular application from the few neighbours who would qualify to object, as the applicant himself owns the adjacent property. But the CPA has listed the application by Cayman Property Investments Ltd (also cited as Sands) for an in-person hearing to discuss the historic overlay, the high water mark, side and front setbacks, application inaccuracies and the NCC’s directive.

This application began life when the CPA granted permission for a seawall and one-storey concrete cabana in 2009. The DoE believes that since then the structure has caused considerable beach erosion in the area, which is a critical turtle nesting habitat. The latest application came as a surprise to the DoE, who said they last met with the developer in November last year to discuss remediation works to the seawall.

“It was agreed by all that the existing structure is failing and has lost structural integrity,” the DoE stated. “Although development of the property was mentioned by the Applicant in passing, it was not the subject of the conversation and the plans for this development were not presented by the Applicant. The focus of the conversation was on repairing the existing structure. The Department advised that the current structure has caused erosion and will continue to cause erosion of the beach if the remediation works keep the current size and shape of the structure.”

The DoE stressed to the owner that the seawall had been built too close to the sea on the active beach and that the department does not support development that close to the water. The owner was advised that to reduce the negative impact, a curved or stepped seawall could be tried as a way to dissipate wave energy as the square structure and hard corner are particular problems. But the applicant has not made any modifications to their proposals for the remediation and is now seeking permission for a two- or three-storey house with a roof terrace.

As well as being in a heritage zone and a turtle critical nesting habitat, the site is next to a marine conservation area. The existing, much smaller project than the one proposed has already caused severe erosion, which was disguised slightly last year because of the sand deposits brought by Hurricane Delta in October and then Tropical Storm Eta a month later. Since then, however, all of that sand has been washed away and the ocean is again lapping up the side of the wall and preventing people walking along the shoreline from Boggy Sand Beach to the West Bay Beach without wading through chest deep ocean or swimming past.

The DoE also said that aerial imagery from 1958 through to 2018 shows how the construction of seawalls and development in this area has resulted in a trend of sustained erosion, as would be expected when hard infrastructure is built on the active beach, which has also happened at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach.

“Under normal circumstances, the beach in this location ceases to exist and this has been the case for at least the past five years, and it is only under quite unique storm conditions that sand is deposited on this shoreline,” the experts explained. “Out of a total of 62 surveys undertaken in this location between 2003 and 2019, there were only four dates when the beach existed,” the DoE said, explaining that in most cases this was due to passing hurricanes.

“The Department has grave concerns about the vulnerability of the proposed development given its proximity to the sea and associated wave activity/loading and scour. Climate change predictions both globally and regionally predict an acceleration in sea level rise, with increased intensity of storm and hurricane activity in the Caribbean. There are absolutely no mitigating circumstances which could justify a departure from the legally prescribed setbacks in this location and, in our view, it would be negligent to permit a residential development on this site,” the experts warn, which led the NCC to issue its directive to the CPA.

The DoE goes into considerable detail about the numerous technical issues with the site as well as inaccuracies and discrepancies relating to the plans and the position of the site, and problems with an engineering study submitted by the landowner.

“In our view, it would be negligent to grant approval for a dwelling on this property with no comfort that the proposed design will not also result in the same structural failure as the existing structure,” the DoE wrote. “The Department is of the firm view that the site is not an appropriate location for a two- or three-storey residential dwelling. The Proposed Development will have no setback from the water under normal conditions, with the potential for occasional sand deposits during high energy wave events from a southwesterly direction.

“The site is currently occupied by a gazebo, which is a low vulnerability receptor. The redevelopment of this property into a habitable structure introduces high vulnerability receptors into a location with no resilience to the impacts of storms and waves. The property will be damaged regularly, and likely destroyed under moderate hurricane conditions,” the DoE warns.

The experts outline all of the obvious additions that would be required for a house, such as air-conditioning appliances, that would be included in the general debris which could wash into the Marine Protected Area or be deposited on the adjacent sea turtle nesting habitat during hurricane.

“It is clear from the records of previous Central Planning Authority (CPA) meetings that it was considered undesirable to have a habitable structure here,” the technical experts state, referring to the CPA’s own conclusions in 2012, when they refused an application to increase the cabana size because it could be used as a dwelling. The DoE also notes the Department of Planning’s position that seawalls are not only ineffective in halting beach erosion but are themselves often a source of serious damage to the coastal environment.

“These concerns are shared by the Department of Environment and have proven to be true at this site. Following development of the seawall at the site, the beach has experienced major erosion,” the technical experts stated and went on to explain why.

In conclusion, based on the findings of the DoE and under Section 41(5)(b) of the National Conservation Law, the National Conservation Council “respectfully directs refusal of this planning application” because the development will result in the detrimental alteration of a Marine Protected Area and the environment generally including the turtle nesting habitat.

See the full details of the application on the CPA agenda here, page 25.


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Category: development, Local News

Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The middle of the island which has the largest footprint should be the main Capital. Bodden Town to Breakers up on higher ground commercial buildings would be the middle of the island (less rain). George Town should have been agriculture, industrial and boat launching. No development on 7 mile beach and only buildings allowed 500 feet from the sea. Government would own bars and restaurants buildings on beaches rented to anyone. No privately owned beaches anywhere on the 3 islands. No motorcafts allowed on 7 mile beach. All fishing must come to piers around the island where it will be inspected by fisheries officer. You can start with some of these new laws, I’m sure we would still have people complaining.

  2. Chet Oswald Ebanks says:

    OK, Here is my 2 cents. PACT Government please demand the owner or owners tear down this piece of junk. It has for years caused nothing but damage to our environment. If they refuse, then Government should tear it down. So that our beach can come back, and we should be able to walk that stretch of 7 Mile Beach unobstructed. PACT Government please let’s come together and save what is left of our beaitifull islands and country.I for one as a Caymanian have had enough. We must all learn to live with less. Plant a tree today, and watch it grow.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a life long South Sounder the biggest disaster to date passed by the CPA is the Fin project. Possibly the biggest eyesore that we all have to drive by daily. It’s so wrong on every level. This alone should call for a new planning board with the new government. An investigation into corruption for this project is a must PACT. I do hope campaigning promises will come through to save out beloved Cayman.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Typical knee jerk ignorance on display. If you actually take the time to read the application, they are seeking to improve what is currently an eye sore at best. Something needs to be done to improve the current situation and if left to rot this will cause way more harm than good. I applaud the owners for investing and wanting to provide this community service. Hopefully common sense will prevail and the application will be approved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Improve it by demolishing it!

    • Anonymous says:

      So they are doing this to be community spirited and not with the sole intention of making money for themselves?

    • Anonymous says:

      Common sense would dictate cutting back when what you built is literally falling into the sea after a few years. It’s no one’s fault that there is not enough room for a house on such a tiny lot. Just give it up and add this little bit of land to the house and lot you own next door. I remember when this was first built and all predictions were that it would wash out the beach and fall apart. It all came tru. All of this is about you trying to make a killing on a lot that has always been unbuildable. Plus your application to CPA is absurd. You want big variances on every side AND your measurements are all wrong on top of it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    CPA need to be changed or at least have their smoking hot rubber stamp confiscated for a while!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The article could have been written about the Fin development. Fin is built too close to the sea, the structure is at risk due to wave action and its construction on soft ground (ironshore). The damage to the marine park will continue due to the artificial beach washing away.

  7. Anonymous says:

    PACT please get rid of the CPA, and OFREG Boards. They are useless. In fact PACT, while you at it get rid of all useless boards and replace all with new blood.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Government should buy the land from the owner and tear down the structure. Let the beach restore itself.

    Problem solved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Or…. eminent domain… just like they should to finish the road by Roy’s horsey farm.

      • Anonymous says:

        Still have to pay, obviously.

        • Anonymous says:

          NCC should look into the Brac, in Stake Bay, someone built walls and big bounders, from the iron shore right to the main public road, its impossible to walk along the bay/beach there. Planning in the Brac must have gave them permission to do that, or otherwise did not check to see what was done there. Its plain as daylight to see. They just need to come and see for themselves. It seems People with money in these Cayman Islands can do as they please. Sad, so very sad.

          • Anonymous says:

            Speaking of…there is some dude in Stake Bay who runs ham radio wires/antennas all along the bay and on neighbours property. It has been addressed with the culprit, Planning Director – all to no avail.

          • Anonymous says:

            You think that’s bad, you should take a look at what he has done to South Sound.

      • Anonymous says:

        No such thing here as eminent domain. That’s just a pompous US term to demonstrate their lack of legal education.

        We call it compulsory purchase. Because that’s what it is.

    • Anonymous says:

      No. Govt should confiscate the property and fine the owner an amount equal to the cost of remediation of damage to the island’s primary natural tourist attraction.

      Our tourism industry and real estate sector cannot be held hostage to the selfish desires of a handful of private/commercial property owners.

      • Anonymous says:

        Based on what law? Big talk.

        • Anonymous says:

          Just a suggestion of what should happen.

          We fine vessels for damaging coral. Not a stretch to put better regs in place to protect the beach.

          The owners of other expensive beach front condos or houses should not have to suffer material loss in relation to their investments because of idiots who damage the beach by building seawalls etc.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If I recall correctly pretty sure there was a story in the bible about a man who built his home n the sand.. from what I remember it didn’t end well for him..

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorties from the Bible only work on the religious if it fits into whatever narrative they decide that day. Hypocrites.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not actually religious. Just find it funny that for such a Christian island few people actually practice what they preach.

  10. Chris Johnson says:

    It rather looks like the CPA have finally found some balls. However it is far too late, the damage has been done as illustrated by the south end of West Bay beach.

    • Concrete Jungle says:

      Chris, it’s also too late for S. Church St, which now features the greatest architectural disaster in the history of these islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s truly gobsmacking. What is worth that? Why would the developer or the Planning Boards or even the residents buying think this is a good development for Cayman? Apart from the obvious corruption/money…so very very sad.

      • Hancock says:

        Too late also for Kel Thompson purple shack on North Church St that broke setback regulations on all four sides.

        The Jacques Scott building next door has been undermined by the sea and in danger of falling in the sea. So they have applied to CPA to remedy the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is never too late.

    • Anonymous says:

      Used to be my favorite place to walk and lay on the beach. Stopped when the beach disappeared and you couldn’t walk all the way across.
      I miss it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Finally, special interests are told to stand in line and follow the same rules everyone else is bound by.

    It seems the only way these people will comply with protecting our shorelines is to make it a retroactive offense and fine the living daylights out of them.

    Airtight fines and convictions never age well and are definitely not good for business.

    • Hancock says:

      Start with Balboa Beach and the purple shack there plus the illegal band stand at the rear.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The breakwater at Treasure Island has a lot to do with the beach erosion at the south end of SMB. It should be removed ASAP!

  13. Anonymous says:

    The seawall experience on West Bay Beach is conclusive proof that there is no link between money and intelligence.

    Any fool should be able to see that building too close to a shifting coastline causes interference with sand accumulation. Except these rich idiots. Ably abetted and encouraged by the geniuses at the CPA.

    • Anonymous says:

      And while you’re at it tear down the house next to Laguna that has destroyed seven mile beach.

      • Anonymous says:

        Please do ! I truly feel this house has been the main reason for the beach erosion in the area.

  14. Anonymous says:

    The entire house needs to be torn down, not just the gazebo. Removal of the sea walls and remediation of the beach zone done, possibly to allow the beach area to regenerate .

  15. Anonymous says:

    Go Jay Jay you show them you got money already dont need no more corruption and that you will fix this cpa scandal for us…your people, no matter what.

  16. Anonymous says:

    It’s full time the CPA was removed as a whole and replaced with people who don’t have a vested interest in saying YES to all the applications because it benefits them financially.

    • Anonymous says:

      Need to do the same with the Planning Appeals Tribunal as well.

      • Anonymous says:

        Whoops, there speaks one who is aggrieved by the tribunal’s refusal to reverse the CPA’s refusal of planning permit for something that did not obey the regulations.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Change the whole board please! Conflict with chairman and others and the NCC should have a subgroup that review all applications and attend all CPA meetings. This is the only way we will ensure our environment is protected. Most of these applications are not for native Caymanians but instead from new Caymanians that don’t understand the value of protecting our beautiful islands. We welcome you but please respect and protect your new home. We are Cayman Kind not Cayman Blind and Cayman and Caymanians must always be placed at the forefront of all decisions made! C1!!! Come on PACT let’s see if you are going to keep your promise to protect out environment!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’m sad because though it seems so logical that the new structure could further damage smb and the turtles the CPA will approve it anyway.

  19. JTB says:

    CPA shouldn’t even bi sitting until they have all been replaced, starting with the chair…

    • Anonymous says:

      If this government is serious about positive change and conflicts of interest, we are all watching very closely changes they will make to Boards and their chairs. We can do better, lets do it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is no surprise! I know someone from Boggy Sand Road who predicted that this “cabana” was just a front for a future project, when it was built a few years ago. Shortly thereafter, the beach right there was gone and the area nearby threatened. Meanwhile, observers have watched the foundation slope more towards the water.

    It would be sheer absurdity to put a 3 storey building on that footprint but guess what….CPA will approve it!!

    First let’s see what new Boards, including CPA, will look like!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I really do hope this new Government cleans up the CPA. Time for new blood . Slow down development. Too much conflict of interest. True foresight and planning is needed for a better Cayman. Not just blindly passing things because of $ and who knows who…. Time to do better Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is not and will not be the role of the CPA to “slow down development “. It’s not that difficult to understand.

  22. Right ya so says:

    What decent architect or construction company would take on this foolhardy and environmentally disastrous project?!

    • Anonymous says:

      Are they even licensed?

      • Anonymous says:

        Doesnt matter. From years ago, the government has allowed architects or designers from abroad to work on projects here. They just need a local agent aka fronter. But their foreign logos remain on all the drawings. Who do you think does all Darts work? Lake Flato in Texas. The “imagineer” here is just the local agent. And all the multi million dollar condo developments? All done overseas but passed through a local fronter.

        • We'll See You Anon says:

          For good reason! A quick whip through the ranks of the local chaps that call themselves ‘architects’ reveals a stunning paucity of true professionals with the education (proper university design school), professional training and peer-recognition (AIA, RIBA, RAIC etc) and the experience (building assembly and operational efficiency, engineering services coordination etc) and any developer with at least some construction experience, quickly realised that with a few exceptions, the local chaps are simply not up to the task.
          Not wanting to stifle development (upon which these islands greatly depend for inward investment), CIG ‘reluctantly’ (but very quickly) disassembled any protective measures for the chaps, relegating them all to agency status (and some of the chaps have difficulty in performing even that properly!) and allowing the influx of offshore design and engineering firms, much to the chagrin of the chaps who have done little to enhance their own skills or to form effective local professional institutes that are effective in encouraging higher levels of competence.

        • Right ya so says:

          @ 28/04/2021 at 8:21 am

          “imagineer” 🙄🤣. some of these people are far too big for their britches since coming here..

    • Anonymous says:

      Not all who claim to be Architects have the qualifications and training, (even if they claim to be “renowned”) which would allow them to be called Architects in the first world.
      Many innocents who never bothered to question their draftsman’s qualifications have paid dearly .

  23. Anonymous says:

    👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 I fully support this decision; hopefully we will start seeing more like it. .

  24. Anonymous says:

    I’ll bet AL’T and Alden are feeling bad now. This would be another one rubber stamped by the CPA just like the horrendous massive development in Red Bay which is sure to bring pure gridlock to the eastern side of the island..

    I just hope Jay gets rid of that entire board and start by cutting off the head of the snake before they meet on this one.

    • Anonymous says:

      All of that development by grand harbour will do it. how are the ppl going to get in and out on the beachside opposite of hurleys?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Dont worry Mr. Homeowner it will be passed. No worries

  26. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t the CPA see the idiocy of this application to put a three story home in this location? Sorry sir, but your land does not exist anymore because you built too close to the sea.

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