Asphalt plant plan opposed

Development of a proposed new road-paving business located off Sparky Drive is continuing without Planning permission and despite objections from and adjacent property owner.

Advanced Road Construction and Paving managing director and shareholder Mark Scotland confirmed development on the site is proceeding without Planning permission.

‘We are not trying to avoid any of the conditions or requirements of the Planning Department,’ Mr. Scotland said Saturday. ‘The main issue is that our application and the planning process is being unduly held up by [a] frivolous objection.’

Mr. Scotland pointed out his company had not commenced development without submitting an application to the Planning Department beforehand.

Jay Bodden, director of adjacent property owner Caymarl Ltd. and shareholder of Island Paving, sent the objection to the proposed asphalt plant to the Planning Department on 27 April.

‘As developer of the adjacent property, I feel that a facility of this type will degrade the area as well as the proposed high-end development, which is now in progress,’ the objection letter stated.

‘We are well aware there is already an existing asphalt plant nearby, however this operation has been in the same location for the past 25 years and is tucked into the corner of our development and next to the landfill site.

‘To place another asphalt-manufacturing plant in the proposed location has the potential to be a nuisance with dust and emissions to the surrounding parcels/businesses and is relatively close to the main entrance of the subdivision.

Mr. Bodden stated that in his opinion the proposed location was not suited for an asphalt plant and would negatively affect the future growth of the area.’

Planning Director Kenneth Ebanks said if there is an objection from an adjoining property owner, a hearing is conducted so that both the applicant and the objector can be heard. Until that time, construction on a property cannot commence.

Mr. Ebanks said the Planning Department was aware that development had begun on the Advanced Road Construction and Paving property.

‘We’ve told the applicant to cease construction,’ he said. ‘We advised them on two occasions, once in May and once earlier this month.

‘They’ve chosen not to stop.’

Mr. Ebanks said the Planning Department did not have legislative authority to enforce their instructions.

‘The next step is to go to the Central Planning Authority and ask for an Enforcement Notice and a Stop Notice,’ he said. ‘We intend to do that shortly.’

Based on current legislation, however, Mr. Ebanks said imposing the Central Planning Authority’s Notices was still ‘a long and convoluted process.’

The government has said it intends to address the issue of the enforcement procedure process with legislation in the future because there have been many incidents of people continuing to develop property even though they have been instructed to stop.

Mr. Scotland said the he thought the objection was business-motivated.

‘This is nothing more than a business objection disguised as a planning objection, or simply put, the existing business is objecting because there is going to be competition.

‘I’m trying to start a business just like every Caymanian has a right to do,’ he said. ‘And the people trying to stop this are Caymanians who don’t want to see me do that. That’s all this is.’

A spokesperson for Caymarl disagreed.

‘While it is true that the owner of Caymarl Ltd. is also a part owner of Island Paving, we are objecting to this application based on the location and proposed use of the property and not from a competition standpoint.

‘As the developers, we feel that having this asphalt plant so out in the open and so close to the main entry into our property has the potential for dust and other unwelcome matters, which could adversely affect the future attractiveness of our entire development.

Although the objection letter is dated 27 April and states is was sent via fax, the Planning Department date-stamped the letter 5 May. Mr. Scotland said the expiration of the 21-day notice period for objections expired on 28 April

Mr. Scotland said the property was zoned Heavy Industrial.

‘Ironically, [the rezoning of the property] was done by the person writing the objection letter.’

Mr. Scotland said there is not much property available with Heavy Industrial zoning.

‘It took me a long time to find a piece of suitable land,’ he said. ‘We’ve invested a lot of money into this.’

In addition to having been granted a Trade and Business Licence, the government had issued importation permits for the heavy equipment necessary for the company, he said.

Mr. Scotland said another paving company was needed on the island.

‘[Island Paving} is a monopoly,’ he said. ‘With competition, prices will come down, quality will go up and service will go up. That’s what I’m hoping for.’

Caymarl did not deny the benefits of competition.

‘We would like to emphasize that we have no problem with competition – in fact competition is generally healthy for the economy, but if we have competition that blatantly ignores the laws that govern the Cayman Islands and defies authority, then this not only poses a concern to us, but to the entire business community as a whole.

‘We are not happy with the fact that Mr. Scotland has installed foundations, electrical lines and partially erected his asphalt plant before having any planning approval and before we have even had a chance to verbally explain the nature of our objections to Planning.

A hearing to review the objection has been scheduled for 28 June.

Mr. Scotland thinks the wait was too long.

‘Planning talks about natural justice, but where’s the natural justice in this?’ he asked. ‘Why should my application be bumped back two months because of this frivolous objection?’

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