The Planning Appeals Tribunal has sided with a developer who wishes to excavate a 44-acre site in the Beach Bay area of Lower Valley, saying the Central Planning Authority’s February 2011 decision against the proposal was “erroneous in law” and “unreasonable”.
Grand Cayman’s planning board has responded by appealing the Tribunal’s decision to the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands.
Whiterock Investments went to the Tribunal after the Planning Authority denied its plan to excavate and remove 295,000 cubic yards of fill from its land at Mahogany Estates off Beach Bay Road. Nearby residents argued that the proposal is for a de facto quarry, while the developer has said it is necessary to sell the fill in order to create a single-family residential development on the site. In February 2011, the Planning Authority characterised the proposal as “a commercial excavation operation”, rather than a true housing development.
According to the minutes of the Planning Authority’s meeting 3 June, 2013, board members were provided with the Tribunal’s decision.
“The members reviewed the decision and resolved that the [Tribunal]’s decision must be appealed to Grand Court as the [Planning] Authority is convinced that its [the Planning Authority’s] decision was not erroneous in law nor was it unreasonable, which were the two grounds for which the [Tribunal] allowed the appeal,” according to the meeting minutes.
On 14 June, the Cayman Islands Attorney General filed an appeal in Grand Court on behalf of the Planning Authority.
On Wednesday, the Caymanian Compass filed an open records request to view the Tribunal’s decision. An information manager replied that, as of Monday, 1 July, the responsibility for Tribunal records had been transferred to another ministry, due to reshuffling with the new ruling government taking office. She forwarded the request on to the Ministry of Planning.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Planning’s information manager told the Compass that the handover process of records was not yet complete, and the Ministry of Planning had not yet received the Tribunal records.
The Compass is persisting in its open records request under the Freedom of Information Law.
In the past, planning officials have refused applications similar to Whiterock’s.
In 2008, the Planning Authority refused Lorenzo Berry’s application to excavate and remove 250,000 cubic yards of fill from the site. The Planning Authority had refused a similar application in January 2000, to level, clear and stockpile fill at the site. That decision was upheld by the Tribunal in May 2000.
The developer has had approval since 1997 to excavate and remove 29,000 cubic yards of fill in order to create a single-family residential development.