Updated, 1:30pm: The Central Planning Authority has heard the application for the construction of an $18 million, 27-apartment development along a section of beach in West Bay, which is designated as a critical turtle nesting site.
The application for the development, submitted by internet investor Frank Schilling, was originally heard in November 2020, but adjourned after the National Conservation Council and neighbouring residents expressed concerns about the project.
Appearing before the CPA today, 12 May, Schilling confirmed that the plans for the development had been amended to address the issues raised and to meet the conditions set out by the NCC to protect the nesting turtle population at the beach.
Schilling also said a 30-foot-wide easement leading to Sonny Powery’s Drive had now been registered, which meant there would be no motor vehicular access to the development from Sand Hole Road.
During the meeting, some objectors requested that a higher wall be constructed along the development’s boundary that runs along Sand Hole Road.
“As soon as I open my front door, it will be the first thing that I see,” said Martha Ebanks, who spoke on behalf of the objectors. “So, is there any way that the board will be willing to pass a 10-foot wall?”
This request was refused by the board. However, a 6-foot wall was later approved, with the condition that it be set back from the road by at least 3 feet.
Original story: The National Conservation Council is calling for measures to be put in place to protect turtle nests on a West Bay beach where internet investor Frank Schilling has applied to build an $18 million, 27-apartment development.
Schilling, who sold his Cayman-based domain-name registration company Uniregistry to GoDaddy last year, has applied to build the Sand Hole Apartments project, which consists of three buildings, at a site located between Sand Hole Road and Sonny Powery’s Drive, off Boatswains Bay Road.
The Central Planning Authority is scheduled to hear the application today (12 May).
The Department of Environment, on behalf of the National Conservation Council, in its response to the planning application, said that based on more than 20 years of DoE turtle nesting monitoring data, the beach at the development site is identified as critical nesting habitat for turtles.
“This designation of critical habitat means that adverse impacts to the habitat either have to be avoided or able to be mitigated with the imposition of conditions of approval. It also means that the National Conservation Council is able to direct the inclusion of those conditions in any Planning Permission that may be given,” the DoE stated.
The National Conservation Council directed that, if the Central Planning Authority granted approval for the development, a number of conditions would need to be put in place, including requirements for a minimum setback of 75 feet from the high-water mark; a vegetated buffer with a minimum width of at least 10 feet along the 75-foot coastal setback boundary; and the installation of turtle-friendly lighting to minimise the impact of the complex’s artificial lighting on sea turtles.
The NCC also called for the imposition of conditions to prevent heavy machinery from the construction site destroying nests.
It also “strongly recommended” that best management practices are adopted during the construction process to ensure that construction-related debris does not enter the marine environment.
Local residents objecting to the project have asked that the complex be renamed as something other than Sand Hole Apartments, which they say is misleading as the complex will not be accessible via Sand Hole Road. They said they believe the name will attract a high level of traffic to Sand Hole Road “as many persons will take this road, trying to locate the complex”.
The National Roads Authority, in its response to the application, had noted that Sand Hole Road is not wide enough to enable a fire truck to access the building in the event of a fire, and that there is a public pedestrian right-of-way that traverses through the site.
The applicant, in a revised plan, following concerns raised by the Department of Planning, said the complex would include a 30-foot-wide easement leading to Sonny Powery’s Drive, and no access via Sand Hole Road would be required.
- Additional reporting by Andrel Harris