South Sound land reclamation proceeds despite appeal

A local developer has forged ahead with his plan to fill in a portion of South Sound and build a seawall some 50 feet out into the sea, even though objectors are currently appealing the permission granted by the Central Planning Authority in August.

All week, truck loads of shot rock are being dumped into the Sound.

Minister Mike Adam told the Caymanian Compass on Tuesday morning that he had approached the Attorney General about seeking an injunction to halt work on the site until legal questions are resolved. The pertinent topic is whether a property’s seaward boundary recedes with physical erosion, or whether, once the boundary is ‘fixed’ according to a survey, the owner retains control over the land even if it becomes submerged.

As of press time, the Attorney General had not responded to the Compass’ request for comment.

On Thursday morning, Mr. Adam said he was about to enter a meeting on the subject of the development and that he would contact the Compass after the meeting. During the week, the Compass has repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, attempted to contact Mr. Adam to discuss the topic at greater length. The newspaper held the story until Thursday afternoon attempting to give the minister time to comment on the issue.

On Thursday afternoon, Katrina Jurn of Protect South Sound said it is her understanding that the Attorney General will not be filing the injunction.


‘Completely incorrect’

This is the latest row between a group of South Sound protestors and developer Rene Hislop, whose contentious Emerald Sound subdivision is just across South Sound Road.

Mr. Hislop could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

During its 15 August meeting, the authority approved an application by Mr. Hislop’s R.C. Estates to move the location of an approved seawall some 50 feet south and reclaim land lost to Hurricane Ivan. In conjunction, the authority removed a nearly 13-year-old requirement to maintain a 50-foot-wide mangrove buffer, which was destroyed by the 2004 storm.

Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie maintained that her department’s concerns about the application are still valid.

“The premise that the mean high water mark can be fixed as part of a fixed boundary survey is incorrect,” she said.

To the contrary, the authority accepted the argument made by the developer’s attorney J. Samuel Jackson, who said, “There are two types of boundaries, general and fixed. A fixed boundary is for perpetuity in the Land Law. It is clear, if the seaward boundary has a fixed boundary, then it is fixed.”

Real estate broker Alister Ayres, who was Chief Surveyor at the Lands and Survey Department from 1992-2001, said the terms ‘general’ and ‘fixed’ boundaries refer to the quality and standard of the survey being done, not to specific types of boundaries.

He said he was “absolutely amazed” and “astounded” to hear that the authority had accepted the argument that the seaward boundary can be static.

“It is completely incorrect. Nobody it seems had the sense or thought to consult a Lands and Survey surveyor,” he said.

Mr. Ayres said it is universally accepted among surveying professionals that coastal boundaries are ambulatory and travel with weather and nature. He said in this instance, the seaward edge was properly set at the edge of the mangroves, then the boundary would recede when the mangroves disappeared, and would not extend out again until the mangroves grow back.

James Kennedy, an attorney at Samson and McGrath, agreed with Mr. Ayres after reading the law.

“It looks like it is floating and subject to the whims of nature,” he said.

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  1. If they are dumping fill as we speak on mangroves and every living organism along the shoreline and in the sound, there is pretty little the activists can do now to stop them. Through the CPA, they got away with it, and apparently the Attorney General is mute.

    Mike Adams is no real help would, and what is very disturbing, is that Alden McLaughlin (PPM leader)who suppose to be representing George Town, never pursued a movement against this Emerald project in the first place!

    Note: Arden Mclean (former PPMr) defended his home in East End against a Joe Imparato project – Note Ezzard defended his home in the North Side district! These men did something for the preservation of their environment, but Alden McLaughlin… Alden worries me with his silence. He represents George Town! What did he do for his district???!!! Not even a word from him to oppose this project! Very disturbing, seeing he is to be the next sitting government!

    From the beginning the people of South Sound was outnumbered not by a majority of people – but outnumbered by dollars. So sad that we fail to realize that if you destroy Cayman’s ecosystem and natural beauty, Cayman will lose its tourist attraction. Sorry but palm trees, shipped shrubs, dredged canals that tourists see everyday in Miami, is not what they want to see here!

    This is a travesty and we are now paying dearly for it because there is no democratic provisions in place to enforce people-participatory democracy where they have the power to remove MLAs and stop huge projects that will have a negative impact on them.

    This is very sad. A travesty in the making…

  2. SirTurtle, what is disheartening is that everyone appears not to be responsible. You had 15 Members of the LA that were quiet. Then comes Mike Adams at the eleventh hour to have an injunction to stop the dumping into the sound. Right this minute, I would love to travel around the world like the Premier. The way things are done around here makes me wonder.

  3. The issues arising from global warming and the subsequent rise in sea levels cannot be ignored. I don’t think we can blame people or organisations wanting to take such measures to protect their property and livelihood. Mangrove is undoubtedly precious, but then again so too is human preservation.
    Finding the right balance is an increasingly difficilt task, and over the next decades sacrifices and decisions will have to be made affecting life in low lying shores not only here, but across the globe.

    A certain hotel at the south end of Seven Mile Beach is a classic example of the threat of rising sea levels. Although no Mangrove is in danger the hotel is planning to ‘bolster’ their shoreline and build up their artificial barrier reef. If no action is taken then beach access and their terrace could be eroded soon.
    Act now or suffer the consequences. Ultimately nature will have the final say.

  4. I agree with Rene, build that wall now. Its your land, its your right .There are no Caymanians against you putting up your wall. They said the sea is rising. I don’t understand for the life of me why anyone thats not doing the same thing. We can save the swamp or wetland whatever you want to call it. But when they started to place the canals through the swamp it was done. The sea water comes into all the swamp in Cayman. So they better get those quarries going and start filling the land or it will be Venice.
    You know that might not be a bad idea. Then we can all have a gondola