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The Editor Speaks: Do planning board members have to have a blind eye to be appointed?

Colin Wilsonweb2I am not going to get into the rights and wrongs and any political issues surrounding the proposal for a ticket office/restroom/store/tour operator sales area/mobile food truck staging area on the waterfront in George Town.

The application was at first refused by the Planning Board but after an appeal and some amendments made the Planning Board has allowed it to proceed.

This has in turn been appealed.

This then is the background.

What I am very concerned about is what is happening on the site of the development at the moment. Please see attached images.

The images show:

Marl used for filling pushed onto the beach overstepping the retaining wall shown in the planning application drawings by about 15 feet on the waterfront.

It would appear foreign matter has now entered the sea that is close to a marine park.

The pit for the septic tank has been left open and is very deep. There is no fencing or any safety barriers around the pit. This has been like this I have been informed for about three weeks. This is a serious accident just waiting to happen.

When there is a beautification project under way in the area and the proposed building is going to obscure the natural beauty of the sea that has been shared to visitors and residents alike for years, it is puzzling why this project was allowed.

So to be a person with some authority it would seem to help if you have a blind eye.

I know the authorities are aware of all of this and there is some sympathy from the Department of Environment, but there is precious little they can do.

This is part of their reply to the main objector:

“The Department shares your frustrations as there is no recourse the Department can take after a decision has been made by the Central Planning Authority, even if the outcome is undesirable.”

The Planning Board even allowed the development even though it does not conform to some of the Planning Regulations according to Architect Robert Johnson. The following is from the Objection Notice

All buildings and structures severely breach the 75’ setback required by the development and planning law and regulations. For this site, the HWM setback is at the Waterfront Centre across the road, making this site undevelopable. The proposed building, as well as breaching the waterfront setback, also breaches the road setback as stated in section 8(8)(b) of the Development and Planning Regulations.
1. The Office Building sits only 30’ (instead of 75’) from the HWM and 14’ (instead of 20’) from the road,
2. the Cabana Structure sits only 25’ (instead of 75’) from the HWM and 14’ (instead of 20’) from the road,
3. the Concrete Slab sits only 20’ (instead of 75’) from the HWM, and
4. the Septic Tank sits only 35’ (instead of 75’) from the HWM. Note that DoE comments state that ‘The well will eventually seep into the sea, effecting its wildlife and coral reefs.’
5. Two parking spaces were demolished for the office building and another space was assigned as handicapped. Unless contracts of 3 leased parking spaces elsewhere have been shown to CPA, how can these be given up at the expense of Waterfront Centre Tenants? We are also puzzled about the parking for the new building: there should be 2 additional spaces required on site for this new development. Perhaps leases for 5 spaces were shown to CPA that we’re unaware of? All in all, this exacerbates the parking problem in town,
6. All proposed sidewalks needs to have an 8” curb (instead of 6”)to keep traffic / taxis off pedestrian space,
7. a sidewalk needs to be put in front of the office building for similar reasons, also with an 8” curb
8. both sidewalks are to be at least 8’ wide as proposed in the GT Boardwalk Project (approved by planning in 2012),
9. The proposed works will irreversibly detract from the vista and aesthetic appeal of the natural ironshore coastline, which is an intrinsic part of the character of George Town and adds to the charm of the area. Such lengths of natural coastline are becoming rare in town and should not be sacrificed for such development. Specifically, we question the purpose of the concrete pad upon which the cabana sits (3). Why was this proposed and how will it function? What is it? We are worried that it is convenient for a food truck to pull up next to the cabana as previously proposed by the developer. Note the elevations of this slab relative to the existing elevations of the ironshore: there is a 3’-6” difference in elevation. From my clients land, from the ocean and driving into town this will look awful on the ironshore.
10. Given the location of the site (with significant historical and cultural context) and given the popularity of the site (with both local Caymanians and visiting cruise ship tourists), this development is inappropriate and against the tourism product Cayman should portray immediately outside of the Royal Watler Terminal. Such development will have a knock-on effect and decrease real estate values in the area,
11. Given the amount of traffic passing by the site, no beautification or landscaping has been planned such as planters and lighting to promote a more pleasurable experience for the public, in fact the opposite has happened. The developer has kept the site sloppy (see photograph 1) and several cubic yards of construction waste has been left on my clients land (see photograph 2). This is unacceptable, especially when my client has invested time and money into beautifying his property,
12. This development will ultimately impact the beautification project initiated by my client, on the adjoining land to the North, which is to operate like a park and to enhance public space in the area. Working with the plans for the GT Boardwalk project (approved by planning in 2012), my client has made his site easily accessible and has built a sidewalk so people can visit the beach or enjoy ocean views as they pass through central George Town. The proposed development compromises these efforts and, in short, will degrade the public space my client is constructing on the adjoining property. (see photograph 3).
Even after being informed that this project is being appealed by their neighbor (name removed), the landowner has started constructing the project. We find this surprising that the landowner took this on at his own risk and we are worried of the environmental damage he maybe creating as well as some health risks to the public given that the site is extremely busy with cruise visitors and the inadequate construction hoarding and site management (see photograph 1). We understand that the planning development laws are at the CPA’s discretion but how can so many variances be allowed for a project which brings no value to George Town?
We ask, at the very least that construction should stop and that any decision be adjourned until after the appeal be heard on June 11th. Otherwise, planning should reverse the decision to grant planning permission given to the developer in April of last year.


There is no doubt the project will change the natural ironshore waterfront on a very visible property in town.

But then I do not have a blind eye.


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