DoE v CPA legal battle confirmed for June

| 25/03/2022 | 54 Comments
Cabana at Boggy Sand Beach

(CNS): The unprecedented forthcoming legal battle between two public sector entities, effectively setting government against government, has been listed to be heard in June. The Department of Environment and the National Conservation Council have requested a judicial review of a Central Planning Authority decision that ignored a legal directive not to grant planning permission.

The CPA’s decision to allow the demolition and rebuilding of a cabana on Boggy Sand Beach also flies in the face of the PACT Government’s stated policies.

The DoE had issued a directive to the CPA on behalf of the NCC, using the National Conservation Law, not to grant planning permission for the application since the site has a long-running and problematic history. The current structure is failing because it was built far too close to the ocean.

When the owners, Cayman Property Investments Ltd, sought permission to demolish the existing single-storey concrete cabana and seawall and erect a new two-storey beach structure, the DoE issued an order directing the CPA to deny the application. But the board ignored the order, claiming it was not lawful.

The CPA waived the required highwater mark setback of 75 feet, as the structure is now effectively in the sea for most of the year, allowing what is clearly an unsustainable project to go ahead, despite the government’s policy of sustainable development.

The DoE will be arguing in court that the directive they issued is lawful. However, the controversy over this situation goes deeper than the legal dispute, as it highlights an evident policy difference between Premier Wayne Panton’s Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency and the Ministry of Planning held by Jay Ebanks.

Over the course of the current PACT administration’s twelve months in office, the conflicts between the planning ministry and the climate ministry have become increasingly apparent. This particular case illustrates an impasse over what should have been an easy decision for the government to resolve, given that the CPA is a politically appointed body that is required to follow Cabinet policy as well as the law.

If the CPA had refused the application based on the planning law and requirement for a highwater mark setback, the developer could have challenged the decision through the Planning Appeals Tribunal. However, the CPA chose to waive that requirement and undermine the government policy, making this a very unusual case.

During an NCC meeting on Wednesday, DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie confirmed that the June date had been set for the case.

Also discussed at the NCC meeting was the culling of feral cats on Little Cayman by the DoE. Ebanks-Petrie told the members that this was likely to go ahead in a few weeks as a long-running legal dispute between the DoE and the Department of Agriculture on one side and two local animal protection organisations on the other was currently being settled.

The two departments want to begin a concerted control project on the Sister Islands, where the large populations of feral cats are posing a critical threat to the indigenous and endangered rock iguanas. The problem was created by people abandoning pets that are not neutered or spayed that have now bred in the wild.

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

Comments (54)

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  1. Orrie Merren says:

    It will be interested to see what the Hon. Court will decide in this JR battle royal.

    Could be CPA (relying on ss.15, 19, 24, Bill of Rights, along with unlawful abdication or abrogation of authority/power) versus DoE- NCC (relying on ss.18-19, 24, Bill of Rights).

    Ministry of Planning (property rights:s.15, BoR) versus Ministry of Sustainability and Climate Resiliency (right to protection of the environment: s.18, BoR) — both sides will likely rely on the fundamental right to lawful administrative action (s.19 taken in conjunction with s.24, BoR).

    We shall see how it goes. Interested in the outcome. Could be some interesting precedents.

  2. Anonymous says:

    In regard to protection of the natural environment to the extent that existing laws and regulations allow, and in regard to enforcement of the Planning Law and applicable planning regulations, the Central Planning Authority, and the Development Control Board for the Sister Islands, are as impotent, ineffective, and worthless as a screen door on a submarine.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If DOE can’t get the basics right, like preventing poaching, patrolling efficiently, and making sure their staff are where they offer best value from the public purse instead of conducting their own business opportunities etc…..then how the hell do you expect them to get complicated planning/conservation balances together?
    Miss Gina fights the good fight against terrible odds. But her enforcement deputy and his ‘management’ team are a circus act at best.
    Time for a clear out, especially those whose retirement date is long overdue and who continue to milk the public purse whilst succession planning is ignored.
    There needs to be more public scrutiny of this department and its personnel as it would seem tgst accountability isn’t a word they are familiar with.

  4. Jacky Boatside from Old Bush says:

    How this whole land deal came about needs to be explained to the public too many players lurking about and the mere fact it now has to explain is very suspect ! Why and how is the lingering question eh Ken Ken ????

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is clear and been repeated over and over again that the CPA Board must be replaced. Alden refused to do for two of his terms, now we have replaced them with the same useless PPM pro development sympathizers and some left over UDP stragglers.

    Why is it so difficult to find some people that are not conflicted. It is like the have figured out that they can’t be removed so they continue to do as they please.

    Can you believe we are wasting money to go to court about a freaking Gazebo that is falling in the sea. If Slokey was still alive even he would say this is a bunch of foolish. Why is the CPA approving this? Give me one good reason please?

    • Anonymous says:

      Umm…. Since it’s “falling into the sea” doesn’t it make sense that a redesign was submitted and approved? I don’t understand why everyone is so upset- the building exists and surely letting it fall into the sea isn’t environmentally friendly?

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly! The sheer stupidity of some of these comments is staggering. The owners have a legal obligation to prevent it falling into the sea which would cause untold environmental damage and have a knock on effect to the neighbouring house and ultimately the entire street. This is a politically driven farce. Thank God the CPA had the common sense to approve this before any serious damage is done. The DOE are incompetent beyond belief. They should be more concerned about cruise ships, the double standards and hypocrisy is appalling. 🤦‍♂️

      • Anonymous says:

        Because they are not ‘removing’ it, they are building it back bigger. In a manner likely to cause additional degredation to the marine environment (Marine Park). Which is why they got told to not do that.

        • Anonymous says:

          The DOE asked these owners to build a curved seawall, seems they did what the DOE asked and now they are filing a JR? What a waste of government funds. If a building is built legally and needs to be repaired allow it to be done or you are creating a mess of a precedent. Let it fall into the sea seems like a pretty dumb idea……

        • Anonymous says:

          @ 6:16 are you sure that is correct? Fact check, please.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone considered that this is where the sand/beach starts on the northern end of seven mile beach and could be the contributing factor of beach loss along the entire length of SMB.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rubbish! Our CPA and Developers are experts in the concept long-shore drift.

      Disrupting the natural pattern of our beaches and how they are maintained by Mother Nature has nothing to do with the beach disappearing further down the coast; absolutely nothing…..

  7. HJacques says:

    When they have finished with this they can sort out the Kel Thompson pisspot on North Church Street. It breached setbacks on all sides and the Appeals Tribunal sent it back to CPA over a year ago. Guess what? Nothing happened.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well, we now know that at least one CPA Member loves sand! He loves to jog on it early in the morning, claims it as his own and even threatens to use it as a weapon!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Gina Ebanks-Petrie oversees one of the most dysfunctional departments in public service. It’s just a shame the DOE don’t put as much energy into serious HR matters, training, and management efficiency instead of wasting yet more public finance on matters that should be worked out in the board room, not court room.

    • Anonymous says:

      3:47 am Thank you for finally raising this issue. DOE needs to be audited.

      • Noname says:

        Audit John John ? You have to be kidding me ! 🤣🤣🤪🧟‍♂️🌞🧟‍♀️🌎! But then again if the whole audit is live-streamed it may yet again provide us with memorable YouTube moments for decades to come!

        • Anonymous says:

          7:42 pm No the Department itself needs to be audited. Internal audit has the authority to do so and should do.

    • Anonymous says:

      True, a waste of time and money she is. If you want to know something about the environment ask someone who has been driving a bulldozer for 25 years.

      • Anonymous says:

        What a waste of oxygen you are. She is the only thing standing between the unbridled greed of the developers and their political leeches and your ability to live on this rock.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because HR, training and management functions are all more important than actually doing the job they are meant to be there to do, protect the environment. What are you, a career bureaucrat?

  10. D. Truth says:

    Is it possible to replace all of the members of the CPA? If not, why not?
    They have already made it clear that all they are interested in is money for themselves!

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn’t we just have a complete change?

    • Anonymous says:

      Well one them is getting replaced but that’s for kicking women on his beach.

      • Anonymous says:

        That seems a bit harsh. McKeeva’s attack on the waitress was much worse and he is still Speaker. Then there was something that might have happened in North Side, or maybe it never happened if you only read CMR, and I don’t hear any calls for resignations of anyone involved in that.

      • Anonymous says:

        26 @ 2:08 pm – He should, but will he? Maybe now he’ll be considered an “environmental protection expert”, for his obvious passion for his sand!

  11. Anonymous says:

    More waste of public funds. Why could they not ask the politicians who made the law as to their intentions? Who takes precedence?

  12. Anon says:

    I expect others, like me, have watched this postage stamp property over several decades, always chuckling at the futile renovations and repairs. Doesn’t the street name foretell to anyone some Biblical implications? Why has/would anyone encourage, support, allow such folly? In the end nobody benefits and many will have revealed their foolishness and lack of commonsense.

    • James says:

      Wayne, you are an embarrassment. The longer this charade of a PACT government continues the bigger a fool you look.

  13. Concerned diver says:

    Waste of Govt funds. Appalling that it has come to this. Every member of the CPA should hang their heads in shame. Furthermore, let’s have a CPA full of people WITHOUT ANY VESTED INTERESTS. I am so totally sick of this BS. An absolute disgrace.

    • Anonymous says:

      Me too, Brother diver!

    • Anonymous says:

      3:05 pm In case you weren’t paying attention, it was the DOE (not the CPA) that started this fight. That’s right, one government department (DOE/National Conservation Council) decided to take this fight against another government entity (CPA) to court, instead of trying to mediate internally or seeking Cabinet direction. Shameful waste of resources. Hopefully DOE will have their noses rubbed in it.

      • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

        This has been going on for decades. It is insanity to expect and different outcome from the same repeated action. It is time there was definition in the regulations.

        Why can the CPA pass submissions that are contrary and harmful to the environment and neighbouring properties? Answer: There is no oversight to their rulings.

        If we want to have ANYthing at all left for our grandchildren, we have to start with a rigorous conservation program RIGHT! NOW!

        The DOE has for decades been writing, protesting, railing against a good-ol’-boy group that does what they want, and often what benefits themselves personally. Is it any wonder why the DOE sometimes seems to go overboard? They can track and measure the degradation of our environment, and we collectively keep kicking the can down the road. No worries. Someone else will save the crumbs for the future.

        I don’t feel represented. I never have. I help elect an MP who then does whatever they want without regard to my or anyone else’s wishes.

        I want this country to protect it’s waters and beaches and woodland forests, and save something for the future. I don’t give a damn about building luxury condos for the rich. I have nothing against the rich, but I think they have enough of the island to play with.

        • Anonymous says:

          The problem with many environmentalists is that they have their share of the pie and then expect that somebody else’s land will be preserved. I haven’t met any of you who have bought land and donated it- many of you have plenty of money to do so. If these were your property rights you’d all be singing a different song I suspect

          • Bobo Fett says:


          • Anonymous says:

            9:44 am EXACTLY !!

          • Beaumont Zodecloun says:

            A fair point. Government purchases some properties for posterity, but not nearly enough, imo.

            Either way, I think we can safely say that there are adequate affluent condos available, and we could easily stand a moratorium on them. We could also stand to establish a sensible setback from the high water mark that would support not losing the sand to the tides.

            These very basic ideas are lost to the CPA, or so it seems. Our default should be toward the environment, not the pocketbook.

          • Anonymous says:

            There are Caymanians that have bought or retained sites of cultural significance or environmental value but get nothing from it. But when visitors come here to see it everyone else can give tours and get paid. Why should we give the lands away as well while everyone else is making money from it?

            • Anonymous says:

              That’s the point isn’t it? Why does anybody expect somebody to give their land away? The only way preservation happens is if government buys land and preserves it.

  14. Money2Burn says:

    Internecine warfare is one of the best uses of public funds and Govt resources.

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