The Dart group’s plans to expand the size of an underpass, currently under construction on West Bay Road, is facing opposition on two fronts.
The National Roads Authority has objected to the expansion, arguing that the developer has not provided sufficient justification for the project.
The NRA also argues that it, rather than the Central Planning Authority, should have final decision-making authority on such applications.
The expansion of the tunnel, part of Dart’s plan to link Seven Mile Beach and Camana Bay, is also opposed by a community group, advocating for the preservation of public access to the beaches.
The Concerned Citizens group say the development blocks access to two paths to Seven Mile Beach.
Those grievances were expected to be considered by the Central Planning Authority during its meeting Wednesday.
But the hearing was adjourned because the board was provided with incomplete documents by the planning department.
Dart Real Estate said in a statement that it would address the concerns raised by the NRA and others when the hearing takes place, likely next month.
The original application for a 400-foot underpass was granted, with the support of the roads authority, in February.
Dart has already completed an underpass and a bridge at the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. Ultimately, it plans to link this to the West Bay Road underpass, expanding Camana Bay over both roads.
Following the acquisition of the Royal Palms restaurant and bar last month, Dart submitted an application to extend the West Bay Road underpass by another 195 feet, adjacent to that property.
This time, the roads authority has objected, arguing that it has not been given enough detail to justify the need for the extension.
In a submission to the Central Planning Authority, published with the agenda papers for Wednesday’s meeting, it states, “There is no conclusive justification for the tunnel extension being deemed necessary or appropriate; the proposed future development plans provided offer very little indication of timelines and scheduled construction dates and it appears as if these plans are subject to change as future acquisitions become a reality.”
It also highlights safety concerns, including “pedestrian conflicts and near misses” during construction of the underpass.
Highlighting a clause in the Planning Law, the NRA suggests the authority to deal with the application falls within its remit, rather than the Central Planning Authority.
“Ultimately, there is no justifiable reason or need to extend the tunnel and the NRA Board’s decision is not to approve the application,” it states.
Typically, the planning authority treats the NRA’s submissions as advisory. The board or the department has not indicated, at this stage, whether it accepts the roads authority’s claim that it should have jurisdiction for developments like this.
A separate concern has been raised by the Concerned Citizens group that the underpass blocks beach access paths and restricts public rights to the beach that should be protected in perpetuity.
Alice Mae Coe, a founding member of the group which has been campaigning for decades to preserve beach access amid increasing coastal development, said the rights of way needed to be maintained.
“I’m not against development or Mr. Dart, I am in favor of Cayman Islands residents, wherever they come from, having the right of access to the beach that they have enjoyed for hundreds of years,” she said.