NWP apartment project stirs up new controversy

| 06/05/2021 | 67 Comments
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service
  • Cayman News Service

(CNS): A luxury condominium development on North West Point that was given a variance on the required coastal setbacks, allowing it to be built closer to the sea and for the developers to fill in an ironshore pool on the site, is causing a stir in the local community as residents claim they were never notified about it. The Serrana development was given planning permission in March last year against the advice of the Department of Environment, and work started on the project this week. But the DoE’s recommendations to the CPA were ignored and the work is likely to have a detrimental impact on the marine environment and shoreline.

“The Department was consulted on plans for the development in 2019, which included partially filling the barcadere and a reduced setback from the sea. We recommended that the proposed building be relocated further from the sea to increase the coastal setbacks, to meet the minimum legal requirement under the Development and Planning Regulations and avoid the need to fill the barcadere,” the DoE said in an official statement Thursday after a visit to the site the day before.

“We highlighted that there would be impacts to the marine environment from this filling. The Central Planning Authority (CPA) may accept or reject these recommendations when they make their decision. Our recommendations were not followed,” the DoE said.

Given that the project has planning approval within the landowners’ boundary, the DoE noted that this matter is the jurisdiction of the planning department. On Thursday, planning officials attended the site and spoke to people living in the area and concerned citizens. They pointed out that, given the decision of the CPA last year, all the work is lawful and could not be stopped.

The application was heard by the CPA in January 2020 and no objectors appeared. The DoE had clearly indicated that the site is “on a high-energy coastline”, and in the face of climate change predictions for the region, structures should not be permitted with reduced setbacks.

They also warned against filling in the inlet, which is what has caused the current concerns in the neighbourhood. The DoE had noted that it provides habitat for marine life and filling it in would impact the organisms within the inlet as well as the Marine Protected Area it connects to, due to the spread of turbidity. In their recommendations to the CPA, the experts had said, “The DoE therefore strongly recommends that the plans are modified to increase the coastal setbacks.” Those recommendations were ignored and the CPA approved the project.

According to the relevant minutes, the CPA outlined its reasons for allowing the setback to be waived in the face of the DoE experts’ clear recommendations against this, saying that the “elevation of the property and its environs is high enough to assist in minimizing storm surge, thus allowing the proposed development to be closer to the high water mark”.

The CPA also relied on precedent, which has become a self-perpetuating problem that seems to be paralyzing the board from imposing prescribed setbacks, which are critical given the increasing coastal erosion and mounting threats from sea-level rise. The CPA found that there are existing developments on adjacent properties with similar setbacks as those now granted for this condo project, which was originally submitted by Vista Development (Elvis Ltd).

“The setback of the proposed development is consistent with the established development character of the area and it will not detract from the ability of adjacent land owners from enjoying the amenity of their lands,” the CPA minutes state.

As work began this week, several people began asking questions on social media and seeking information about the project. Several complaints were made to the DoE and at least one resident in the area sent a letter to planning on Tuesday, pointing out that he was never notified about the project and had significant concerns about the impact it would have on his property.

The planning department has, however, claimed that registered letters were sent to the PO boxes of all the listed landowners, as required under the law, and adverts were placed in the newspaper.

The project is one of a surge of coastal development along North West Point over the last year, which is causing considerable concern, given the massive changes to the neighbourhood in a matter of 24 months, with huge houses and condo complexes emerging all the way along the rocky and once picturesque shoreline of West Bay.

Serrano is billed by the developers as a luxury $18 million, 18-unit apartment complex with a pool and sea wall.

See the CPA minutes in the CNS Library.


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Category: development, Local News

Comments (67)

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  1. Snowball effect is now in full force and once the precedent has been allowed it wont be stopped until we get a non-biased board with members with the balls to say NO.

  2. Island in the sun says:

    Mnnnn, I haven’t seen this plan up close and personal… but what happened to crown land being a certain measurement from the shore?
    Is that not law anymore?

    All of these reports of our land being broken down for the dollar bill and no backwards glance or ‘thank you ma’am’ is disheartening.
    We are all losing our beloved isle Cayman
    By the time we turn around ten years will leave us with nothing to be proud of.
    Please stop
    Someone please stop this

  3. Anonymous says:

    This right here says it all and until they cut off the head of the snake, AL’T and the rest of the contractors and developers sitting on the CPA board, this will continue..The PPM started this and PACT has to end it now..Thank God with have sidelined the PPM. I cannot imagine what would have happened to Cayman had they been left in charge..

    https://caymannewsservice.com/2021/02/more-development-needed-says-mclaughlin/

  4. Anonymous says:

    Serrano… You mean like the ham from Spain or the peppers from Mexico?

    Weird choice for a name.

  5. Anonymous says:

    While you all are focused on what was already steeped through from past govt, keep in mind that Planning Regulations are still wide open with loopholes for more of this to happen. Yes, under a new govt/ministry, the CPA can refuse future crap but with the laws in place how they are, the applicants can appeal those decisions. Planning Regulations need overview and adjustment like yesterday!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Planning Laws have too much discretion, this is partly why they are being exploited by people who don’t even know what a conflict of interest means.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ministry directs CPA rubber stamping. The applicant is a huge PPM ‘supporter’. Connect the dots.

  7. Anonymous says:

    How is Vista Development still in business?

    J.B. is not an architect.

    M.B.’s name is mud

  8. Anonymous says:

    The CPA needs to be changed. New faces with no vested interests. That means no hardware salesmen, developers or realtors.

  9. Anonymous says:

    How many pools on a small island surrounded by sea? Why?

  10. Anonymous says:

    The CPA chair also owns the biggest hardware store on the island. Coincidence that almost ALL planning applications get past the CPA? Yeah, let’s have the fox in charge of the hen house.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why do they even need planning permission to fill in the barcadere? The lagoon cut in the ironshore by the Fin development was filled in with concrete without any planning permission. It was just a month ago. The developers just do what they want and don’t even ask for forgiveness.

    • Anonymous says:

      They have planning permission.

      https://www.planning.ky/wp-content/uploads/Mcpa1119.pdf

      2. 4 FIN DEVELOPMENT Block 14E Parcel 786 (F15-0156) (P18-1162) ($2,250,000) (BES)
      Application to modify planning permission for salt water tidal pool.
      Appearance at 12:00
      A.L. Thompson and Selvin Richardson declared conflicts and left the meeting room. Ray Hydes sat as Acting Chairman.

      Decision: It was resolved that having regard to the Development Plan and other material considerations it is expedient to modify planning permission. Now therefore the Central Planning Authority in pursuance of Section 17 of the Development and Planning Law (2017 Revision) hereby orders that planning permission CPA/26/15; item 2.1 be modified to allow a salt water tidal pool,

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah, I have a conflict of interest and have to leave but I leave you all in charge because you all know what the procedure is 😉.

    • Anonymous says:

      They fill it in because the regulations require the seaward setback to be “from the nearest point of water “…so they move the water back by filling the cut.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Imagine what would happen to the rest of these islands if the PPM soul sellers were reelected as the current government.

    I swear the BS that happens here, out of pure greed, will drive every single person,living here who gives a hoot about the future of these islands, to drink.

    PACT GOVERNMENT PLEASE FINISH THE MENTAL FACILITY, LIKE YESTERDAY, BECAUSE CAYMAN IS DRIVING PEOPLE INSANE.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I frankly don’t know which govt entity is farther from the purpose they were created for: the CPA, WORC or the Work Permit board.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Replace the CPA and the Planning Appeal Tribunal, ban the current and past members from serving again and pass a new regulation that requires the CPA to look at each application on its own merits irrespective of previous bad decisions. If all those things are not done nothing will change.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Get some competent people on planning for Christ sake.

    Embarrassing this sort of thing continues.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Strange how the CPA goes full ahead and approves all of these controversial developments, although DOE lays out the facts on the danger these developments will cause to the environment. Yet, when an individual (caymanian) submits a plan, they find every fault and request changes that are unreasonable, trying to discourage them from going ahead. I had them try it with my plan and I stood firm and would not change it. I couldn’t build a duplex with two front doors, I should have a foyer with one door and two doors on the inside. On the opposite side of the road there was a duplex with two doors and I made them know I had no plans to change my plan.
    Until we stand up to the CPA, they will continue to sideline caymanians and gift the islands to developers (special interest).

  17. Anonymous says:

    Let’s brainstorm as a community to generate new income streams for government so that twe are able to buy back key pieces of land that should never have been sold to foreign investors.

    • Anonymous says:

      They don’t need ideas, they need to stop wasting money

    • Anonymous says:

      Or maybe they can share the wealth instead of being greedy sob’s.

      Literally selling the land under your feet for their ow profit. When will ppl wake up jesus christ.

    • Wasting your time says:

      They’ll just take your ideas, time, money and claim them as their own.

  18. QAnon says:

    Another disgraceful decision by the CPA. The deep state protects its own kind.
    The time has come to replace the CPA membership and drain Cayman’s swamp of politically appointed lackey’s.

    • Anonymous says:

      Has anyone questioned planning on the building under construction next to the Four Winds ESSO at the 4way stop in WB. This building is actually sitting on a public road. Apparently it is to be a 3 storey apartment building.

  19. Right ya so says:

    and this is what happens when you don’t update your details on the land registers, I’ve seen so many notifications returned because the contact details are out of date. Go down to the Land Registry and update your details. And watch this site: https://www.planning.ky/cpa/#meetings

    • Anonymous says:

      Our the post office takes 4 weeks to deliver registered mail from Airport to Bodden town box!! Letter arrived after the deadline!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Good point. People change their post office boxes and forget to notify important people

  20. Anonymous says:

    Shut it down!!!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Without even knowing the site, I can almost guarantee you that the inlet reaches beneath the ironshore at least 30 feet; these kind of tide pools are common, and often they intersect laterally with others. There is no telling the environmental impact of “filling it in”. Ridiculous. Just go ahead and pour concrete in there and to hell with whatever natural systems have been in place millennia before people even came here. And why? Because it’s convenient to the builder/owner.

    • Anonymous says:

      And even if it wasn’t the worse idea environmentally, which architect or engineer would think it was a sound idea structurally in the long term. You’re right, these kind of tide pools usually intersect with others and they will eventually find a way to intersect again.
      Once these types of shoddy building practices are greater known, who’s going to want to buy into all these million dollar complexes?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Oh shut up, the CPA chairman does not want any departments telling him what to do! Lets build, build, build.

    Honorable Premier please replace that whole CPA board ASAP.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Do the people running the CPA think they are God? They don’t have the authority to make it legal for someone to alter the land and sea to allow speculators to make changes that will be unsatisfactory for the people of the Cayman Islands. How can our elected leaders ignore this? I ask our elected leaders to take action against any plan to negatively alter our way of life and cause changes that will bring unsafe conditions for the people of the Cayman Islands. Hello………. Is there anyone listening?

  24. They pave paradise.... says:

    Seems irresponsibly close to the ocean. Where will the occupants evacuate to when there is a norwester? How will they get insurance?
    Seems like lunacy at the CPA.
    Disaster waiting to happen.

  25. Anonymous says:

    first test the new government will face. Lets see if they have bite or all bark!

  26. Anonymous says:

    CPA is a cash cow foe Govt. Don’t expect them to reject many applications! Developers have shown they don’t care about DoE concerns – they can always get “after-the-fact” approvals!

    Wonder /if how PACT Government will change that?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, it will be interesting to see how The Pact Govt deals with this. Stay tuned……..

  27. Anonymous says:

    What will it take for this reckless madness to stop!

  28. MERVYN CUMBER says:

    A very sad state of affairs. Why?

  29. Andres Calderon says:

    I visited the site today with a concerned lady citizen like myself and there are no words to explain my dismay at the reckless decision of the CPA and to see how close to the water the buildings are set back achieving this by altering the coastline to attain more land mass, by filling in a fissure that runs right up to the break-water wall they hope will protect the buildings! But what amazes me more is how close the private dwelling will be to the water and edge if Iron Shore if they continue with their plan of filling in the man made EXCAVATION` in the Iron shore that brings in the active ocean which washes right under the foundation of said house. The house appears to be closer to the water than the condos which seems to not being built over the second fissure! GOVT needs to legislate that no high rise buildings be built in family neighborhoods which will maintain the environment which generational
    Caymanians have enjoyed for hundreds of years! 😱

    • satirony. says:

      We just have to wait until the next nor’wester or hurricane. Have the developers forgotten Ivan? This is pure madness!

      • Anonymous says:

        The developers have not forgotten, the buyers have.

        • Hubert says:

          Foreign buyers don’t know about Ivan as realtors don’t talk about what happened. Too long ago. Many will be exposed when next Ivan hits.

          They sure are going to pay a lot for home insurance though.

  30. Reform the CPA says:

    The Central Planning Authority are riding roughshod over the advice of the DoE and civil service Planning advisers.
    The board has far too many business men who have vested interests in construction and development.

    REFORM THE CPA!

  31. Island vegetation forgot says:

    I assume based on a recent South Church St development they will get away with almost zero landscaping and the whole site will be a bare concrete jungle. This has to stop, is PACT going to stand by it’s pre-election promises to protect the environment or will the dollar again reign supreme?.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Do Vista Developments even have a qualified architect? I think not, but am happy to be corrected.

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