Work on a new tourism business on the George Town waterfront is progressing despite concerns from a neighboring landowner that it is negatively impacting plans to construct a boardwalk and beautify the area.
The development, which includes a tour operator ticket sales area, restrooms and a mobile food truck area, is planned for a section of oceanfront across for the Waterfront Centre on North Church Street.
The project, initially turned down by the Central Planning Authority, was approved with some modifications in April 2015.
Chris Johnson, a neighboring landowner, has appealed the decision to the Planning Appeals Tribunal. If he is successful on appeal, Mr. Johnson says he will insist on the buildings being demolished.
He has further complained to the Department of Environment that marl from the project is spilling on to the beach.
Mr. Johnson said he could not understand why the project had been approved in the first place, saying it was being done with no consideration for George Town’s beautification.
Kel Thompson, the developer behind the project, did not respond to requests for more information about the development from the Cayman Compass.
Minutes from the Central Planning Authority indicate that Mr. Johnson lodged an objection at the time through his son Robert Johnson, an architect.
Among other complaints, Robert Johnson said, the project would negatively impact the boardwalk plan.
“This development will ultimately impact the beautification project initiated by my client, on the immediately joining land to the north, which is to operate like a park and to enhance the public space in the area,” he wrote.
“Working with the plans for the George Town boardwalk project, my client has made his site easily accessible and has built a sidewalk so people can visit the beach or enjoy ocean views as they pass through central George Town. The proposed development compromises these efforts by operating a food truck next to my client’s site, which will attract hagglers and undesirables. In short, it will degrade the public space my client is constructing next door.”
Central Planning Authority minutes indicate that the authority originally refused the application, citing the setback variances from the road and the high water mark that would be required. At a later meeting, it approved a resubmitted version of the plan, acknowledging that several other developments in the area had been granted setback variances and approved the development. The development was improved with some conditions, including the location of the site’s sewage treatment plant.
The Department of Environment raised several objections during the original application process and questioned the suitability of the rocky beach area, which it said was only created by coastal changes after Hurricane Ivan, for permanent structures.
The DoE analysis also raised concerns about the impact of construction and operations on the marine environment. It added, “The proposed works will irreversibly detract from the vista and aesthetic appeal of the natural ironshore coastline in this area which is an intrinsic part of the character of the George Town waterfront, and which is becoming increasingly rare.”