The Department of Planning and a local developer are at odds over shoreline modifications at the site of a future luxury condominium development in Rum Point. The Department of Planning has issued a stop order, and the developer, Joe Imparato, is seeking clarity and a resolution to the impasse.
“Maybe I made a mistake, but I don’t think I did,” Mr. Imparato said on Friday. “If I did, I made a mistake and it wasn’t intentional. We’re responsible developers. We abide by the law. We’ve never had any conflict with the law over anything we’ve done in all our projects. We make mistakes from time to time, and we stop and correct them and don’t do them again. This might be that case, but I don’t think so.”
The development, which will be named the Rum Point Club, was approved by the Central Planning Authority in 2015, but the dispute is over recent work along the high tide line. Mr. Imparato employed a surveyor to mark the high tide line and then began excavating ironshore on the beach.
The Department of the Environment sent an inspector to the site last Tuesday and subsequently notified the Department of Planning about the shoreline modifications. The Department of Planning then went to the site and subsequently issued a stop order and enforcement notice to halt the development.
Tim Austin, deputy director at the Department of the Environment, said the developer had proper applications for apartment construction but not for modifying the shoreline.
“At no point was there any mention that rocks were to be removed from the water or that there would be any shoreline modification,” Mr. Austin said of the previous application. “We were caught by surprise in that regard. But it turns out that the way the work was being constructed, it was all behind the high water mark, and the high water mark delineates the jurisdiction between the Central Planning Authority and the Crown’s Cabinet. The moment it was determined it was behind the high water mark, it becomes a planning issue, so we notified Planning about it and Planning are investigating it as we speak.”
Mr. Imparato, who developed the Caribbean Club on Seven Mile Beach, said he has reached out to Haroon Pandohie, the director of the Planning Department, but has not heard back.
Mr. Pandohie replied to an email request for comment from the Cayman Compass, explaining the potential repercussions for excavating ironshore without the proper application.
“The enforcement notice requires that planning permission be obtained for the works or the land restored to its condition before development took place,” said Mr. Pandohie. “Failure to do so can result in a fine of five thousand dollars upon conviction, with a further fine of one thousand dollars for each day the offense continues.”
The ironshore that was removed cannot be restored to its previous condition. Mr. Imparato plans on using the beach rocks as part of the landscaping in his condominium project.
He said he is unsure what regulation his workers have violated, and he wants an opportunity to sit down with the Planning Department and come to some sort of understanding on how to move forward.
“It’s a tempest in a teapot,” he said. “I’ve reached out to the director and said, ‘Please show me what section of the law I have violated by moving the rocks on the beach to another part of the beach. And if I have, I’m sorry and I’ll apply for whatever I have to apply for. But if I am right, you owe me an apology.’
“If I’m operating above the high water mark where there’s no water, how am I modifying the shoreline? It’s not the shoreline at all,” he said. “It’s like if you went in the back yard of your house and you found a stump and you say, ‘Well, I don’t want this stump here. I want to pull it out and I want to make a fireplace of it, but I don’t want it in the middle of my yard.’ That’s the same thing as what we’re doing.”