The Central Planning Authority has turned down a request by Divetech to expand its operations to a residential property just north of its current location at the Lighthouse complex in West Bay.
The company had requested converting a 5,400-square-foot home into a dive centre, complete with air compressors for filling dive tanks, and a retail store. Currently, Divetech fills its tanks at a location near Owen Roberts International Airport.
Owner Jo Mikutowicz said she planned to keep the current space in the Lighthouse building where divers rent equipment and have easy access to the sea.
Other than noting the number of required trash bins and recommending construction of a sidewalk, regulatory agencies raised no objections to her application. But neighbours did.
Three local residents submitted letters complaining that they already are bothered by the noise of clanking diving tanks at Divetech’s current site. Adding the noise of a compressor, the neighbours said would be unacceptable.
“A commercial dive operation simply does not fit within our neighbourhood,” one letter said. “If their application is approved, it would destroy our neighbourhood.”
Mikutowicz said she planned to appeal the decision.
As the Planning Department’s analysis showed, the area is zoned for Beach Resort Residential and “tourism-related development may be permitted in the BRR zone if the location is considered suitable by the authority”.
She said she thinks the dive operation she’s proposed is suitable.
“I’m fully within my rights,” she said. “The neighbours were concerned, obviously, with the noise, which I fully understand.”
But, she said there are ways to mitigate that issue.
“I’ve already expressed to them that we can put [the compressor] inside and soundproof the room.”
Being able to convert the house to a business, she said, would allow Divetech to consolidate its offices and classrooms, and would provide storage space for equipment.
“It’s disappointing,” she said of the Planning Authority’s decision. “It’s just a little setback. It doesn’t discourage me.”