Authority OKs cruise port, preschool

The highlights of the Central Planning Authority’s meeting 1 February included a cruise port and a preschool.

The planning authority approved the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands’ application for $3.2 million worth of improvements to the cruise ship passenger facility at Spotts Jetty, and also OK’d the creation of a preschool, despite objections.

Spotts Dock

The Spotts facility is part of negotiations between the government and China Harbour Engineering Company that also include cruise berthing in George Town and a cruise dock near the Turtle Farm.

The Spotts project includes a one-storey cruise passenger terminal, shade trellises, pedestrian courtyard and walkway, vendor cabanas, drive-thru/park area for taxis and buses, restrooms, chain-link fence, boundary wall, retaining wall and dock extension.

As part of its conditions for granting planning permission, the planning authority stipulated that existing sea access shall be maintained at all times, except as required by United Kingdom Department of Security requirements. The planning authority also mandated the removal of barbed wire from the existing fence around the facility. In its comments on the application, the planning department noted that planning permission had never been sought for the existing 8-feet-high barbed wire fence.

The planning authority did not address the Department of Environment’s concerns about buildings to be located within 50 feet of the mean high water mark. The environmental department had recommended that two of the restroom buildings be repositioned to at least 120 feet away from the high water mark, and said the locations of the proposed Security Office and Customs/Immigration Help Desk would leave the structures “highly vulnerable to damage and destruction from storms”.

Neighbourhood day care

During the same meeting, the planning authority approved an application from Discovery Kidz II to start a preschool in one side of a duplex in South Sound. The applicant’s stated intention is to take over the lease for the other side of the duplex when it becomes available.

Applicant Rochelle Dilbert said the owner of the duplex, off Denham Thompson Way and Sandalwood Crescent, also owns the adjoining vacant lot, which would be used for parking overflow and a playground.

According to a letter from objectors, “We object to this application because this is a prime residential area within close proximity to downtown George Town. We feel that such a structure will not only destroy the character of this area, but will also result in devaluation of the homes and properties in the area.”

Other objectors wrote, “The residents are comfortable with this status quo which would be completely changed by the introduction of a preschool, bring persons who are not personally known to any of the residents into the Crescent.”

During the meeting, Ms Dilbert said nearly all preschools on Grand Cayman are located in residential areas, so the creation of the day care would not necessitate a true zoning change. She said the immediate area features a derelict vehicle and overgrown vegetation.

“So when you talk about the character of the area, how will the preschool further degrade the area?” she said.

One objector said, “That other adjacent property is rented to migrant workers and they are not the most hygienic, which may be better not to have small children in the area.”

Ms Dilbert said, “This area is good enough for you to live in, for your children to ride bikes. Why isn’t good enough for the preschool kids?”

In response to assertions that the preschool would degrade the safety of the neighbourhood, Ms Dilbert said, “Preschools do not introduce crime to the neighbourhood”.

An objector concluded by saying, “I don’t care what studies Ms Dilbert has done, this will change the area and probably require 
people to move.”

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