CPA sticks by NCC order over turtle lights

| 20/09/2022 | 47 Comments
Cayman News Service
Disorented baby turtles (Photo courtesy DoE)

(CNS): The Central Planning Authority has said it is obligated to follow a National Conservation Council direction to find that a condition of planning approval for turtle-friendly lighting at a proposed luxury beachfront house in Rum Point had not been met. During its meeting last week, the CPA said the recent court ruling meant they could not ignore orders from the NCC and refused to discharge the condition.

The CPA heard from both the Department of Environment, who rejected the submitted plan, and the architect of the house, who objected to the installation of window tints on the beachfront home in critical nesting habitat.

The experts at the DoE who advise the NCC on potential environmental threats had rejected a plan submitted by the applicant because it would not prevent light from the beachfront home from impacting both nesting turtles and the hatchlings. The department said that, since the house was located on a nesting beach that is protected under the law, the applicant needed to ensure that the interior light would not illuminate the beach, which would protect the animals from the risks of disorientation.

The director of planning tried to persuade the DoE that the condition should be removed and the lighting plan then discussed over the period of construction, but the DoE stuck to its position that the developer should not get a building permit until a suitable lighting plan is agreed.

CPA Chair Ian Pairaudeau also claimed that the original NCC direction had requested that the developer merely submit a turtle-friendly plan, which the applicant had done. But he accepted that in submissions responding to this hearing, the NCC had made it clear the plan must be approved.

The applicant has objected to installing the tint, claiming that it would darken the daytime view. Architect John Doak, who spoke for the undisclosed landowner at the CPA meeting, asked what the point of building a beachfront home was if the owner could not enjoy the view, and complained about the level of tint the DoE had said should be installed. Doak had argued that drapes or blinds should be sufficient.

“We are building a house on the beach. Why would we want to screen the view?” he asked. He said the DoE’s solution was “untenable” and that the department was not respecting the property owner’s rights.

However, DoE Senior Environmental Assessment officer Lauren Dombowsky detailed the risks of relying on drapes and the continued issues that are presented by interior lights leading to major disorientation. She pointed to the multiple difficulties turtles have nesting on beaches around the island, given the amount of development and light, and asked why we should be making things even more difficult for them.

Dumbowsky also took time to thank the CPA for its efforts to get beachfront property developers to include turtle-friendly lighting in projects and said it was having “a huge positive impact”. But she argued that on this occasion the applicant was asking for a plan to be approved that was not turtle friendly. She said that the DoE just wanted the applicant to come back to the table so they could find a suitable lighting plan.

The department sent a clear message to all new beachfront developers in critical nesting habitat that these conditions are important and must be met, which includes lighting that does not impact turtles. However, the law only applies to new buildings and does not yet require homeowners to retrofit properties.


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

Comments (47)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Won’t someone think of the hardworking elites who have relocated to this beautiful tax haven and wish to live in luxury?

    The turtles can learn to live with the artificial lighting or they can find a new nesting site.

    Go away, nature lovers

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  2. Anonymous says:

    There is a partial solution to the view being spoiled by the tint. One that will work on at least the main opening or openings that offer the most dramatic view. Air curtains. Open the tinted glass doors and turn on the air curtains. Voila! A lovely unobstructed view. Of course you may end up having a disoriented turtle in your living room, but you will have one hella view.

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  3. Courtney Platt says:

    I suspect that a clever person, understanding that light travels in straight lines might be able to erect a very low temporary plywood wall (not a sea wall) between the windows and the beach that would block light falling on the beach, but allow people to see over it to the ocean… until a low but dense hedge can mature, which is common on such properties anyway. Its efficacy could be checked by laying on the sand and looking back at the house. Once mature, the plywood gets removed. Could that be helpful in this case?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Only if they planted a tall enough hedge. Maybe 10ft? Because of the likely height of the building.

      Unfortunately this would likely raise even more howls about not being able to see view of the turtles swimming in the sea they paid so much money to see.

  4. Anonymous says:

    John Doak disgusts me, what an awful, awful attitude to the environment. And Jackie Doak has us believe she and Dart want to preserve the environment. They are all cut from the same cloth.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Good on you DoE, Mrs. Dombowsky, and the CPA, Ian Pairaudeau.

    It’s refreshing and encouraging to see NCC and conservation being put to work.

    I simply cannot understand these developers.

    John Doak I thought you were better, you have disappointed us all with your thoughtless remarks and have lost touch with Cayman.

    Is that what money does to you?

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    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not the money for John – it’s the idea that his artistic vision of the superb views from his design would be constrained by bureaucrats expecting him to care about turtles rather than the wonderful photo spread in the next architectural magazine.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Why is this even being discussed? Only in Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The laws were there long before the owners submitted their plans. The architects are supposed to know the requirements that are deemed turtle friendly.

      No excuse for the owners. Follow our laws!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Environmentalists are serious about these things. That’s why.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    At least it is a good start. As I stated before, CPA and NCC should not be in separate departments and under separate ministers. These issues are intertwined and I think they should never be adversarial for the benefit of of the residents and the turtles. Why bitch and fight each other on this. If this Architect after being on this island for so long and is probably a “Caymanian” cannot appreciate the benefit of sorting this out together then with all due respect he is not really one of us. Mr. Doak it shouldn’t be all about making money- certainly you have had a good run on that already.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Turtle friendly lighting requirements have been common place in Florida since the 90’s. Asking the developer for something other than “I promise to close the curtains every night” is hardly unreasonable, nor should it be that difficult. Saying that tinting the windows would destroy his client experience is complete BS – they can apply smart tint where the tinting can be electronically controlled – limited during the day, opaque at night. Not rocket science, just about $ and arrogance.

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  9. Untenable says:

    ‘UntENaBlE’

    You know what is untenable, the attitude of these architects and developers thinking they have some God-Given right to expropriate the Caymanian shoreline to make millions off of a rich property investor class at the expense of Caymanian biodiversity, national character, and social equity.

    These developers should be ashamed. We see you, we know why you are doing this, it is not for ‘artistic’ or craft integrity. You are doing it to get rich, not even modestly so, you should know that Caymanian people SUPPORT the DOE on this.

    You and NCB have already taken EXCESSIVE liberties with this island’s shoreline for your own bottom line, enabled by successive administrations allowing for real estate side hustle, with more projects on the way. You act in the interest of smiling luxury property portfolio collectors and its about time your excesses were given more appropriate legal parameters within which to operate.

    Don’t you dare put ‘sustainable’ in your advertising if this is how you seek to reject the protection of endangered species on this island. If you took a minute to think to yourself really long term, the preservation of turtles and their nests should be an INCREASE in the value of the properties involved.

    Island-wide we tear down our mangroves, destroying our fish nurseries and reducing our fish stocks – threatening a Caymanian way of life in the form of fishing, yet all these people can do is salivate at the thought of the picture in a real estate magazine. Bird populations, fish populations, turtle populations all advancing towards extinction because of these same few developers looking to get rich with the same few realtors, that is on you when you face judgement.

    It’s literally just some soft lighting!!!!

    Take a look at yourselves.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Mr Doak has made enough money already designing opulent houses for very rich people. I’m disappointed in him. I thought after 40 years among us he would have had more respect by now for the environmental problems facing us in Cayman.

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    • Anonymous says:

      These people have had such an easy ride in taking Cayman in a direction the majority didn’t want it to go that now they think it’s their right!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. Doak is interested only in getting more money. It is a trait that many rich folks believe is the mark of success. Believe me…… That isn’t always the case.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Money rules and don’t you ever forget it. Some people will never have enough to satisfy the burning greed inside them. Who knows this could be an undercover Dart project.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    I was out on a boat along Seven Mile after sunset and the whole beach is lit up like a Christmas tree. Two things struck me, one was how anyone would be so selfish. and two how come no-one was doing anything about it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Hope it wasn’t a gas powered boat, ’cause then you’d be a hypocrite.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Buddy, stop trying to deflect the situation of what the poster meant.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Why – climate change and turtle friendly lighting two entirely separate issues. You may as well say you hope he is a vegetarian, or he would be a hypocrite.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for asking, I think it was diesel powered. If you missed the point of the post it was about turtles and nesting, and no-one seemingly bothered that what Florida has had in place for 30 years still seems to escape people. A hypocrite is someone who states one thing and does another. If you have a point please feel free to share it, but try and stay on the topic. Thanks.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Lol. Now they’ll just install the tint, get C/O, then remove said tint.
    #thatscayman

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  13. Anonymous says:

    The name Doak will mean it will go just as they want, just will take a little longer

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Turtle glass reduces light transmission by 45%. Can certainly sympathize with the property owners not wanting to essentially put sunglasses on their windows.

    It does noticeably darken rooms during the day, especially during periods of the day without sun shining directly on the window.

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    • Ok Boomer says:

      then use the appropriate lighting for night time!
      they have all day to enjoy the damn view!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Except you can get tint now where you can dial it up or down – not rocket science to set it to be darker at night. Of course, it costs money, but I suspect if you can afford to hire John Doak to design a house for you you can afford smart tinting. And think of the morally righteous position you would get to adopt when showing off the house or telling your friends – worth the money 😉

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why did they choose to build there ? Surely they know the law. We just let them walk all over us. Us and them, them being anyone Caymanians or other who does not respect our efforts to protect the environment including the turtles.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Want to enjoy the view? Open the dxxx door and go outside.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    ““We are building a house on the beach. Why would we want to screen the view?” ” Ummm – because you chose to build on a turtle nesting beach? Because the fate of the turtles that have nested there long before you came along might be a little more important that the difference that tinting the windows would make to the interior optics and the external appearance of your grand design (and dare I say it, ego)? Skilled “imagineer” like you couldn’t find a solution other than curtains? Well, if you think that the untinted view is central to the design and there is no way of dealing with there is a simpler solution – go and build on anther beach that doesn’t have a nesting site.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Cayman turtles come first and it should be that way for Caymanians too !

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