Church denied planning approval

Neighbors say church would negatively affect property values

It was intended to be a house of God, but plans for a new church in Savannah have been denied planning permission after neighbors complained that it would bring down property values. 

The growing Bethel Refuge Apostolic Church, housed in rented buildings in Prospect Park, was seeking to build a new $1 million, 400-seat church next to the LIME telephone building on Shamrock Road. 

The Central Planning Authority has refused permission for the project following complaints from residents. 

“The intensity of use from the church, including vehicular and pedestrian traffic and general human activity, will not be consistent with the character of the surrounding low density area and this will detract from the ability of the neighboring land owners to enjoy the amenity of the area,” the CPA recorded in minutes of its Dec. 10, 2014, meeting published this week. 

Several residents wrote to the CPA to complain that the church would adversely affect the value of their homes. Others complained about traffic and parking issues and pointed out that the community of Savannah was already well served with four churches in the surrounding area. 

One resident wrote, “It has been developed into a desirable and quiet residential neighborhood and the proposed church will not be in keeping with the character of the neighborhood.” 

In letters to the authority, senior pastor Christopher Murray responded to some of the letters of complaint, suggesting that church elders were “taken aback” by residents’ comments that a church would detract from the neighborhood. 

He adds that the idea that a church would lower property values is without merit. 

“A house built unto the Lord does not depreciate the value of a community, but on the contrary, enhances it,” he wrote. 

The pastor argued that the growing population in Savannah and Bodden Town meant another church was needed in the area. He supplied a petition of 100 signatures in support of the application. 

Pastor Murray said in his submissions to the CPA that the church was established three years ago and has a growing, multicultural congregation of around 185 people. He said the church, which provides counseling and outreach services, has outgrown its current location and is looking for its own home. 

The National Roads Authority suggested the impact on traffic would be minimal. But despite that assessment, the CPA said it believed the new building would create “traffic safety issues.” In refusing the application, it also cited parking and the effect of church traffic on the neighborhood. 


  1. So sad once again to hear that we have come to a cross road of church and state. We claim to be God fearing yet, shout out against the constructing of a Church. In few words I have to say many of our hearts are not right with God. How can we consider that having a Multimillion dollar church structure will deface the character of a neighborhood. We put bars and nightclubs, restaurant and shopping centers and everything else alongside the churches yet no one complains, and when a good tabernacle to house Gods people it comes under fire; and we really wonder why we are hearing so many bad things taken place recently?
    Now again you know I cannot write without touching on my own back yard Bodden Town. Just drive by and take a look at the half finished proposed Church of God/ Hurricane Building in front of the Rankine Restaurant.
    The property belongs to the church, much more than an two acres of it. The building belong to the Church with a PROMISE because it would also be used as a Hurricane shelter, the Government would be helping with the construction. Of course as POLITICALLY PROMISED; the building came to a grinding HALT after the PPM Government got in, in Bodden Town. WHY was moneys refused?. Especially knowing that a Hurricane shelter was involved? Moneys taken away and the Government refused to keep its promise of completing the shelter/church building? and we really sit and wonder WHY people are being chastised. My question to ask is Where are my people gone to? Don’t we have any say any more? Have we really considered that every mango and coconut tree, blade of grass, acre of land and your own business and beautiful homes are only on loan to you for a short period? I suggest consider on those things, and pledge to make a difference.

  2. Don’t just behind a disagree tick, come forward and be bold men and women and tell us that we are wrong. Tell us right here with a name and signature why you disagreeing objecting people would hold such a grudge against a church being built, not your money, mind you….and at the same time asking our Bodden Town MLA’s, are they still there? to Tell us that the building in Bodden Town across Rankine Jerk, does not need to be completed either.
    Bodden Town representatives, AL, Ozzie, Wayne, and Anthony we are calling on all four of you to come forward and tell the people of Bodden Town that We do not need a recreation or hurricane shelter in Bodden Town. Tell us that this building was not halted by the PPM Government. Tell us that there was no agreement to help complete the structure, and the money was stopped by PPM. without a good reason……..I am sure there must be one positive person who can sign a name and say no we do not need it, and give good reasons. There is no place in Bodden Town to hold an event. The civic Centre is always being used or leased out, should we ask for the Primary School hall?, should we take back the town hall and close the library? or should we keep going under the trees, walking in mud and rain of the Harry McCoy Park?. Cannot go on the public Coe Wood Beach that’s unfinished too. Cannot block the road for a festival. Tell us where we can go if we want to hold an event or if a Hurricane or other disaster threatened. Still disagreeing and no answers?

  3. Not being a negative ticker, but a little more mundane. From the story it says that the proposal was for a church to be built in a low density residential area, which doesn’t seem like a good fit. Take out the fact it’s a church and ask, would a large commercial structure that holds 400 be suitable, with ensuing traffic etc? I would say the answer is probably no. So not turned down for being a church, just being the wrong structure in the wrong environment. Also, say the church runs out of money, like the one oposite Rankin’s, what can you turn it into in the middle of houses, or it outgrows it. Buildings tend to last longer than the contents!

  4. I think Cayman got way too many churches as it is. Also, why is it government’s responsibility to complete the construction of a church? I think that money is better spent elsewhere.

  5. At the Name of Jesus EVERY knee SHALL bow and EVERY tongue confess!

    My heart goes out to those who in their self righteous state petitions against the Church

    Woe unto you! For VENGEANCE is mine and I will REPAY thus saith the LORD.

    So SHALL my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth;it shall not return to me void; but accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where to I sent it.

    Not ashamed of my GOD!

  6. God continue to bless you Ms. Caroline, we know that these days would come to pass.
    So sad that Caymans tradition of being a member and support of a church is slowly fading.
    So sad that people who are not from Cayman would see it to interfere in our church constructions. That is not their business. I have never read in any paper in the world where a Caymanian has ever interfered in peoples business abroad of construction any thing including their churches.
    Just in case some of the writers are also making reference to the Bodden Town Church, I would suggest they do some home work. The building would have been finished now, however the Government wanted changes here, and changes there because it is also a HURRICANE SHELTER FOR THE PEOPLE of this town. I guess if another Ivan takes place it would be expected from you all, that the residents bear the brunt under a tree. Yes that is just what you would want. People who come to Cayman and live does not want to see Caymanians build anything at all, neither a home a church a condo, restaurant or anything, they just want to have it all for themselves. Just watch and listen to those who moan and complain when a Caymanian tries to build something tells you enough what they are thinking. Why cant people who come here to live satisfy with what they have gotten instead of wanting to take it all away from us? Down right Greedy and selfish, that is what I call it.

  7. I am so sorry for my country, as you can see out of one hundred voices on here there is only one or two Caymanians who have the opportunity to respond. That should tell us something doesn’t it?

  8. Why is the Cayman Governments still dumping money every year into PRIVATE SCHOOLS and they cannot give any to complete Caymanians Churches? There are no Caymanian children going to these schools.
    Don’t like what I say then come and change my Portfolio.

  9. I can’t believe it, why does this also have to be about Caymanians against foreigners? In this case I don’t see any interference from people who are not from here. What I see are complaints from the residents in that distinct area of Savannah and planning denied it after the people in that area complained not people from somewhere else. It’s time people stop blaming everyone else for their own internal issues.

    Regarding private schools, I personally know Caymanian families who send their children to Private schools which they happen to have to pay for so it’s not funded by the CIG like the public School system is. But the claim that Caymanian children do not go there is incorrect. The problem is that only Caymanian children are allowed to go to public schools while Expats that have children are forced to put them in private school, which unfortunately is self-damaging in itself because you end up in a situation where the children of expat’s tend to get a better educations and are more prepared to compete for jobs when they graduate.

    Churches on the other hand are privately funded entities and not the responsibility of the state. However it doesn’t sound like they were looking for assistance from the CIG anyway so that’s not what this is about. I am sure the same people would have complained it is had been a school or office building

    For the people upset about this, don’t point your anger at outsiders this is completely an internal matter.

  10. I am in my country mind you, I am not in yours, and I am not telling any one how to make or change things where they came from. What happen to most Caymanians is that they are too passive to stand up and let una know that una need to stay out of what does not concern una. This does not concern you, so butt out. Furthermore I would feel so very ashamed of myself to break bread from another mans table with one hand and then at the same time have my other hand under the table feeding the dog.

  11. People’s true xenophobic attitudes surface with every topic that hits home. Pointing the finger of fault outside of your own circle is a defense mechanism that kicks in when you don’t get the answer or response you want. And the resulting response is usually something like, ‘Mind your own darn business you’re not even from here. Or as some of the people in charge like to put it ‘ You’re like F’ing Driftwood’.

    It’s clear this attitude comes from the top down in Caymanian Culture and is why Expats and people from other places tend to stay to themselves, because they know their presence on the Island as well as their opinions are not wanted or welcome, only their money. As far as straddling the fence goes, most people will not climb to the other side of any fence when they know they are not wanted or welcome on the other side.

    Now you can understand and expect the response when you ask a simple question or offer a contradicting opinion to a lot of people that claim themselves as born Caymanians to be ‘Mind your business you not even from here you f’ing piece of driftwood’. Consider that the next time you’re asked why Expats are Leary of investing into and trying to become a part of the Caymanian community and tend to stay in their own circles..

    It is probably good that the children of Expats can’t go to the public schools, can you imagine how they would get treated by the other children that are being brought up in a culture that harbors so much hatred towards outsiders.

  12. I’m with Joseph on this – it would not be appropriate for a 400 seat Theatre to be built in the heart of a quiet residential community.

    Nowhere was there anything to suggest this was an attack on Christianity or Christian values.
    Nor was it said that the Church should not be built.
    Nor was it implied that the residents who voiced valid concerns were expats (common sense might suggest the opposite is more likely).
    No, all the CPA said was that they should look for a more SUITABLE LOCATION to build – seems like a sensible and reasonable approach.

    The parable about the Samaritan (the expat of that time) is about respecting differences and working against divisiveness.

    Please remember what can happen when intolerance and prejudice are not challenged in whatever faith.

    Look at France – THAT is not acceptable –

    Je suis Charlie !

  13. Having the gift of humility is one of the best gifts a human can attain whilst on earth. To the contrary, learning to live and love each other seems to be the hardest.

    With reference to the writer’s comment the people of Savannah have spoken least we forget That the earth is the LORD’S and the fullness thereof and ALL that dwell therein.
    To add to this wonderful scripture, ALL of us have a temporal spot where we choose to live on earth, it’s not OURS no matter if the parcel was given to us or bought for a high price.

    This leads me to my next point, everyone of us will at some point in our lives will have to call on the name of GOD. Everyone wants to go to heaven and no one wants to die.

    The breathe of life is precious and cannot be bought. Would you exchange it today for that parcel of land you treasure so dearly?

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