The Central Planning Authority has approved an application by Aster Cayman Medcity for a 40-acre planned area development at the site of the proposed hospital at the junction of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and Batabano Road in West Bay.
The CPA also approved an application for the construction of an $18 million, 27-apartment development along a section of West Bay beach.
A part of the application for the $350 million hospital also included a request for permission to clear an initial 10 acres of inland mangroves to facilitate the construction of the main hospital building.
During the hour-long application presentation, Aster Cayman Medcity’s project lead Gene Thompson told the board “the project would take 15 years from start to finish”, and they would stagger construction for the various phases of the new hospital.
“There will be an inevitable loss of mangroves in this phase and other phases to come, this is the simple reality,” said Thompson, who added that efforts would be made to save as many mangroves as feasibly practical. “There are several other tried-and-true methods that help to reduce and offset our carbon footprint.”
Among those who objected to the application were individuals who said their quality of life and privacy would be negatively affected by the construction.
Thompson, in a press release on the CPA decision issued Friday afternoon, said Medcity was now awaiting “the official written notice”, adding, “This is an important milestone, allowing us to proceed with obtaining the necessary permissions to commence site works, but more importantly representing a move forward for our multiphase project.”
In December 2020, Medcity signed an agreement with the then Cayman Islands government for the construction of their US$350 million 500-bed hospital. The agreement did not include concessions for any construction material, but did so for medical equipment.
Earlier this year Doctors Hospital sought leave to apply for judicial review on whether the government has a case to answer on granting concessions exclusively to Health City Cayman Islands, and also to Medcity, without making them available to other importers.
Sand Hole Road Apartments
The apartment complex, which was also approved, was proposed by internet investor Frank Schilling and originally heard in November 2020, but was adjourned after the National Conservation Council and neighbouring residents raised objections.
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 was identified as critical nesting habitat for turtles.
The NCC 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.
Appearing before the CPA, Schilling confirmed the proposed changes were implemented. He also said a 30-foot-wide easement leading to Sonny Powery’s Drive had been secured and registered, which meant there would be no motor vehicular access to the development from Sand Hole Road.
During the meeting a handful of objectors voiced their desire for a 10-foot wall to 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.