Plans for a new $3 million dive resort in West Bay have been approved despite strong objections from a neighboring dive facility.
Living the Dream Divers was granted approval for the boutique-style resort on North West Point Road, next door to Divetech’s Lighthouse Point dive operation.
The planned project includes four cottages, a dive shop with rooms above, a pool and an air-fill station for filling dive tanks. It will have access to the reef for shore diving.
Numerous objections were filed with the Central Planning Authority by the owners and operators of Lighthouse Point, including concerns about the threat of noise pollution from the air fill station.
Lawyers for Living the Dream Divers argued that the bulk of the objections were “specious” and “commercially motivated.”
In its submissions to the Central Planning Authority, the operator said constructing a permanent home was the “next move” for its successful dive business.
“It will be a serene and peaceful boutique beach resort. Our low density cottage community will cater specifically to divers,” the submission states.
They suggest the air fill station will add no more noise than the existing traffic, and they list scores of other dive shops that have similar facilities, describing it as “essential to a dive shop as a kitchen is to a restaurant.”
The submission to the CPA states, “My client has noted the majority of objections seem to emanate from a single source, being the principals of Lighthouse Point Development Ltd.
“My client is of the view that these objections are at best specious, and are actually totally without merit, and given that they are coming from the owners/developers of a similar facility, there is a clear basis for belief that these objections are commercially motivated, rather than out of a genuine concern for good planning control.”
It goes on to suggest some of the complaints are “hypocritical and illogical,” coming from a similar facility in the same area.
The agenda papers for the Central Planning Authority meeting include 12 letters of complaint, including from the owners and operators of Lighthouse Point, as well as from condo owners on that site.
Several owners complain that the noise from the air fill station will spoil the peace and quiet of the neighborhood. Though Divetech operates from Lighthouse Point, it fills its tanks off-site. Several condo owners cite this as an attraction that will now be lost.
“We would rather listen to the surf than feel the need for ear plugs to block the sound of three compressors,” one condo owner wrote.
Other objections include the potential for too many divers to be on the reef, as well as questioning the need for another dive facility in the area.
In its submission, the operators of the dive facility at Lighthouse Point raise concerns about diver safety, with two shore-diving operators in such close proximity.
It adds, “As a secondary matter, we sank the Guardian of the Reef at our dive site several years ago, and donate $1 from each shore dive to support our community service work, which is offering a year-round after-school swim/snorkel programme for local at-risk youth on a complimentary basis.
“If divers are entering the water from a nearby dive site to dive the Guardian, this will impact our fundraising capability and hence could reduce our ability to teach as many local children.”
Lawyers for the applicant argued that the development is small and will be in keeping with much of the rest of the area.