CPA rejected DoE order on Boggy Sand hut
(CNS): Minutes released this week from the Central Planning Authority’s September 1 meeting reveal its rejection of the Environment Department’s legal directive to deny a building permit at a controversial request by Cayman Property Investments Ltd for a sea wall and a hut along Boggy Sand Beach.
Despite the catalog of problems with the project, the CPA members decided to ignore the directive because they did not think it was legal in favor of their own conclusions to justify the waiver, among other requirements under of the law on town planning, the high water setback and the authorization of the obviously unsustainable project to go ahead.
They accused the DoE of inconsistencies and “undue reliance on the concept of managed retirement”, and gave the green light to development, which poses a threat to the marine environment and the beach.
Without any technical support and even if the existing structure is failing because it was built too close to the sea, the CPA noted that the absence of any withdrawal of water for this project was not a problem because “the elevation of the property and surrounding area is high enough to help minimize storm surges, thus allowing the proposed development to be closer to the high water mark ”.
The property is not only closer to the high water mark, it is built below, and as the DoE stated in its planning submissions, the current wall is no longer in good condition for this reason. and there are now little or no solutions for this failed structure other than removing it.
But despite the direction given by the DoE under the Conservation Act due to the threat posed by this proposed development to the marine environment and the beach, the CPA rejected it and ignored the rest of its technical advice. , which were given in very detailed submissions which explained the evolving issues with the site.
The CPA minutes say that the members were satisfied that they were “not in possession of a legal directive issued under section 41 (3) of the National Conservation Act, by the National Conservation Council ordering the Authority to deny building permit without undertaking a full investigation and review of the application under its statutory mandate to effectively direct development in such a way as to safeguard the economic, cultural, social and general well-being of the people, subject to the environment ”.
They go on to say that the seawall serves to mitigate the impacts of wave action, and despite the problems faced by other developments in the area, the APC has relied on adjacent properties with similar setbacks to justify its decision.
Although the developer’s architect admitted that there was no guarantee that the new curved seawall they proposed to build would not also fail, the board accepted the view that the design will serve to mitigate impacts on adjacent properties. Members found that the existing dike was becoming detrimental to the property and surrounding properties, and allowed the current dike to remain in situ would lead to the least desirable result.
Claiming to have fully considered the advice of the DoE, the board criticized this technical advice, even though there is no one in the new CPA with experience in climate science. Members also ignored the issue of sea level rise due to climate change and the government’s stated policy on sustainable development.
The board said the DoE was inconsistent as it had given advice in the past on the possibility of a curved seawall offering some protection, then called for all structures to be removed. “The Authority has not been able to rationalize the inconsistency in the advice given by the DoE in this regard, and therefore has not been able to adopt the recommended course of action,” said the APC.
But as is the case with all advice given by the DoE, it is based on the circumstances of the moment and offers possible alternatives that could mitigate their worst predictions if their main advice is, as is often the case, ignored. . The advice for a convex wall had been proposed on the basis of replacing the structure with a simple wall, unlike the current demand for a two-storey concrete and glass sea wall and hut.
Given the dynamics of this beach and how the situation has evolved with climate change, as well as growing evidence that the site was now in the ocean more often than it was, the advisory has eventually revised and a decision to issue a directive under the law was made.
However, the APC chose to ignore the directive taken under the Conservation Act, which the DoE recently declared to be serious and whose legal implications they were considering. With the release of the minutes outlining the CPA’s position, the CNS has reached out to DoE to see where they stand now on potential legal options to stop development, and we are awaiting a response.
The move also flies in the face of the central platform of the PACT government’s policy stance on tackling climate change by making the Caymans more resilient, which this CPA decision undermines. The CNS has also contacted Prime Minister Wayne Panton regarding the situation and we are awaiting a response.
See the CPA minutes in the SNC Library.