Subdivision raises flooding concerns

A planned subdivision on South Sound Road has been expanded from 47 house lots to more than 130 house lots on about 40 acres west of Cayman Crossing condominiums. The application provided another opportunity for government agencies to express concerns over flooding in that general area of Grand Cayman.

The Central Planning Authority approved the 137-lot subdivision by developer Rene Hislop’s 7 Mile Holdings Ltd. during its 24 October meeting. The planning authority had previously approved an application by Mr. Hislop in May 2010 to subdivide about half of the 40-acre site into 47 house lots.

During the 2010 application process, the Department of Planning noted that the 21-acre remainder parcel had the potential to contain another 315 apartments. At the time, Mr. Hislop said he wanted the entire site to be single-family homes, and he was waiting to see what demand would be like before planning out the entire site.

The minimum lot size for the new subdivision is 10,000 square feet, or about 0.23 acres.

Storm water

During the October meeting, the National Roads Authority reiterated concerns about storm water management it had brought up in May 2010.

According to the minutes of the recent meeting, “The subject parcel plays an integral role in the long-term plan for integrating the concept for storm water management in the South Sound area. In the mid-1990s, the Cayman Island government utilised the existing MRCU dyke road to installed drainage pipes under South Sound Road and widened the canal to assist with the surface drainage of flood water in the Randyke Garden development area north of the subject lands.

“It is the NRA’s recommendation that the installed conveyance system must be retained and protected by requiring the developer to install culverts for the entire length of the new access road.”

The developer proposes to manage storm water on the site via swales, which are also being counted as part of the Land for Public Purposes component of the development required by the planning authority.

South Sound flooding

The Department of Environment restated its concerns about drainage plans – or lack thereof – for that entire area of South Sound. The department has raised these points before in relation to, for example, the Satinwood Gate development north of the 7 Mile Holdings site and adjacent to Randyke Gardens, which is notorious for flooding.

“Following discussions with the National Roads Authority, the department is aware that the development of Randyke Gardens within this drainage basin has resulted in both extensive flooding of Randyke Gardens and storm water runoff from Randyke draining into surrounding sites, including the application site. It is apparent that the application site is providing a lower-elevation water catchment for Randyke Gardens and the Satinwood Gate development to the north of the site,” according to the meeting minutes.

The environmental department urged for hydrological modelling to assess the possible impact on flooding that the filling and the development of the site may have.

“The Department [of Environment] is keen to ensure that the solution does not entail creating an outfall into the Sound as this has the potential for storm water runoff from residential development, when built, to run directly into the Replenishment Zone. Shallow-water marine organisms are very sensitive to environmental changes in salinity, temperature, nutrient input and dissolved oxygen.

“It is therefore imperative that the proposed development does not create a ‘point source’ for concentrated nutrient, salinity and sediment loading into the South Sound. However, the CPA should also be mindful that the catchment function of this wetland area is being severely compromised by the clearing of land and filling of parcels of land,” according to the minutes. “It is the [Department of Environment’s] firm recommendation that an assessment of storm water management in the South Sound drainage basin must be undertaken as a priority, prior to permitting any further development in this catchment.”

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