The plans for the “Adagio Community Subdivision” include residential lots and two lakes, plus the inland relocation of South Sound Road that was also part of the Emerald Sound proposal – a canal development with 81 houses and 160 apartments, for which the necessary coastal works licence remains pending. In its analysis, the Cayman Islands Department of Planning noted that the Adagio approval “doesn’t negate the previous approval granted for subdivision, excavation, canals and a bridge” by the Central Planning Authority in August 2011.
Developer Rene Hislop and the National Roads Authority have initiated the procedure to swap land in order to relocate about 2,300 feet of South Sound Road some 30 to 75 feet inland. The existing road would be retained as an access road to the seaside house lots (also owned by Mr. Hislop’s company). The Roads Authority Board hasn’t deliberated upon or rendered a decision on the road realignment. On 29 March, National Roads Authority Assistant Director Denis Thibeault said, “I must advise that there has been no progress made by the NRA Board of Directors in regards to the proposed relocation of South Sound Road.”
In its analysis of the proposal, the roads authority calculated that at Adagio, “The current zoning designation could therefore allow for a maximum of 941 multi-family/condominium units (assuming 15 units/acre are constructed).”
Objectors generally said they were OK with the idea of the Adagio development, but protested against the road relocation, proposed lake depths, use of blasting or explosives on the site, and any removal of excavated fill from the property.
Representing Mr. Hislop’s company J.R. Holdings, project architect Burns Conolly said blasting is not within the remit of the planning authority.
“The idea of doing a quarry here, especially in South Sound where land is so expensive, is odd. They are not doing that. The fill is for the site,” he said, according to Planning Authority meeting minutes.
The Adagio application considered by the planning authority originally called for the two lakes to have depths of 30 and 35 feet, covering 19.5 acres and yielding more than 1 million cubic yards of fill. The Department of Environment said it does not generally support lake depths exceeding 14 feet, while the Water Authority and planning departments recommended a maximum lake depth of 20 feet.
“In the absence of a management plan for the maintenance of water quality within the lakes (including details of who will be responsible for maintaining water quality) the department does not support the proposed depth of excavation and strongly recommends that the applicant restricts the depth of the lakes to 14 feet or less,” the Department of Environment said in its comments on the proposal. “In the DoE’s experience, lakes with excavated depths of over 14 feet, and sometimes even shallower water bodies, which do not have an appropriate management strategy (including aeration of the water body), tend to have issues associated with poor water quality, including frequent fish kills, objectionable odours, unsightly algal blooms and water discolouration, which can be a nuisance to surrounding residents.”
The Department of Environment said, “Additionally deep excavations are susceptible to contamination from neighbouring septic tank disposal wells through ground water movements.” It recommended the implementation of a Water Quality Management Strategy before digging the lakes deeper than 14 feet.
The Water Authority said, “Excavating residential lakes beyond 20-foot depth results risks contamination and degradation of water quality as a result of the disposal of wastewater effluent in deep wells from nearby properties.”
Regarding the road relocation, the Department of Environment said it would affect a “Scenic Coastline Zone” as designated in the development plan. “In the absence of any justification for the road realignment, it is unclear why it necessary and is therefore not supported by the department.”
Mr. Conolly said the parcel is inland and thus is not subject to scenic coastline control.
In its decision, the Central Planning Authority stipulated that the developer must limit lake depths to a maximum of 30 feet, provide a water quality management plan for the lakes, create acceleration/deceleration lanes to mitigate traffic onto South sound Road, and retain all excavated material on
“The authority is not convinced that the Department of Environment, Water Authority or any other agency or body has proven that lake depths beyond 20 feet will result in a degraded water quality that will cause harm to the amenity of surrounding residential development. The authority views it prudent to require the applicant to provide a water quality management plan to demonstrate that the water quality in the lakes will be maintained at an acceptable level so as not to cause harm to the amenity of the surrounding residential areas,” according to the