Concerns ignored, golf course gets green light

| 24/06/2016 | 29 Comments
CNS Business

Ironwood development, artist’s rendition

(CNS Business): The Central Planning Authority has given the green light to the proposed development of a golf course in the Frank Sound area despite a catalogue of environmental concerns. The proposal to build an Arnold Palmer golf course was submitted to the CPA in complete isolation and not as part of the major resort that developers have said they plan to build there. No planned area development (PAD) application has been made, nor are there any plans for an environmental impact assessment, even though the project is in an environmentally sensitive location on a 500-acre site.

The CPA appears to have largely overlooked a number of concerns raised by the Water Authority, the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park, residents in the area and the Department of Environment, who had urged the CPA to delay approval until the list of questions and problems could be addressed. Planning permission, however, was granted this week.

Despite the requirement in the National Conservation Law that the CPA properly consider environmental concerns in their deliberations on planning applications, the board granted the approval in the face of serious threats to the environment from the project.

Among the worrying elements is the threat to the East End and North Side water lenses from the lakes and waterways the developer plans, as well as its proximity to the Botanic Park. In addition, the piecemeal approach that the CPA is allowing is of major concern to the DoE, as well as the developers’ failure to supply any meaningful information about how they will tackle the myriad environmental threats posed by the project.

“It is unacceptable to submit an application of this scale without an assessment of the ecological impacts of the projects, particularly given the sensitivity of the natural resources and the species they support and the long-term irreversible environmental effects should this project proceed,” the DoE warned in its submissions.

Pointing to the failure by the developers to address details on the planned blasting, vegetation clearance, lighting, structural works for building and engineering, ground and excavation works among many others, the DoE said the project should be the subject of a PAD application and not a “series of piecemeal applications which cannot be assessed comprehensively in terms of resultant impacts”.

The DoE further noted, “To enable this type of assessment the PAD must be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment to ensure that the development proposals are appropriate, necessary, economically viable, sustainable and based on sound planning principles.”

The CPA has nevertheless approved the project, paving the way for the developers to begin work in isolation on a 9-hole golf course, an 18-hole golf course and 14-ft deep pond excavations without any concurrent applications for the club house or even restrooms.

The project investors put out a release Thursday announcing the planning permission but said very little about the many objections or why it was submitting its application piecemeal. A deal with government, which the developers had originally said was critical to the project, over the development of the east-west arterial extension never happened.

“We have been working diligently with the community, the National Trust, government, and first rate local and international companies over the last several years to get this project off the ground and are delighted that the real work is about to begin,” said David Moffitt, one of the developers. “We are on the road to making the Ironwood dream a reality.”

Among the numerous problems relating to the pristine environment that supports many of Cayman’s endemic flora and fauna, the planned golf course is close to the release area of the critically endangered blue iguana. Keen to promote their community-minded credentials regarding the ‘Blues’ however, Moffitt said the developers were working with the National Trust and delaying construction work until October to avoid the nesting season.

The developers said they were working on creating a buffer between the planned resort and the Botanic Park and the delay in starting the work would also give the Trust an opportunity to relocate the blue iguanas and orchids found in the area. Developers said an historic slave wall has been found on the site and they are now working with Jerry Frazier from the National Trust’s Historic Programme to save it.

Application details and concerns in CPA minutes 22 June

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Category: Construction, Local Business

Comments (29)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    “the plans for this community are already completed and the intention is to build it the way the plans are currently drawn”

    It was truly eye-opening to see Mr Moffat instruct the CPA on what the Florida law of planned area developments is.

  2. Until the CPA has a fair balance of representatives of the ecological structure of this island (they’re called common sense scientists) it will continue to rubber stamp any development that it is presented with. The real estate/development community took it over 15 or so years ago and have run it ever since – and, naturally, it has approved every ill-conceived project it gets.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Where in the USA could the developer propose a 500 acre development without and EIA yet they come here and get permission to do this right next to our Botanic Park.

    PPM campaigned that they would pass the National Conservation Law and did, but what good is a law which is not in full effect? If Part 7 of the NCL were in effect this story would read quite differently as large developments (such as this one) would need to do an EIA.

    Come on PPM do what you promised before its too late.

  4. Just Watchin says:

    The CPA has absolutely no vision of what Cayman should look like, value or preserve. That’s why they have never produced a Development Plan. But then, we keep electing people who appoint the same pack of morons and who ignore the requirements of the law to produce the development plan.
    The only ‘accounting’ that matters to our elected ‘whatevers’ and the CPA gang is ‘another one approved’.
    We get what we vote for – more and more sh__.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The so called port project was stymied. But by any means possible rock is going to be dug out of the ground in the eastern districts.

    Follow the money people.

  6. Anonymous says:

    yawn….this nonsensical rubbish will never happen……smb golf courses lose money every day but somehow east end golf course will be the saviour of cayman……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Anonymous says:

      You are half right. The golf course will never be built. But the land will be thoroughly excavated.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello Chemicals, Goodbye Clean Water and Fresh Air!

  8. Denise Gower says:

    For the benefit of readers who may not know the laws governing construction and development in Cayman, I think it would be useful to provide some clarity.

    First, a Planned Area Development (PAD) is a model that has been created to provide flexibility to developers who are not sure of exactly how they want to develop a piece of property. The PAD gives them the option to change their plans and to restructure the development after initial planning permission has been granted. Ironwood has not applied for a PAD because the plans for this community are already completed and the intention is to build it the way the plans are currently drawn. The insinuation in the article is that a PAD is a submission of a complete plan, which is not true.

    Second, the application is being submitted in phases, but it is important to note that detailed maps and other plans have also been provided to the Central Planning Authority as background to the decision-making, so their decisions are not being made in a vacuum. This is standard practice for a project of this magnitude and complexity. It is also fair to say that the developer is not going to spend millions of dollars preparing the land only to abandon the project.

    Third, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as described in the article has not been undertaken because the rules and the requirements of such a study have not yet been finalised between the Department of Planning and the Department of Environment. In the absence of guidelines for an EIA, Ironwood has engaged with an Environmental Assessment agency – Earth Tech (www.etenviron.com) who has done an assessment of the property and provided detailed information about the composition of the land and the flora and fauna found there, as well as information on how to mitigate environmental issues. Ironwood developers have been working closely with the National Trust and have been addressing their requests and comments on an ongoing basis – including successfully bringing the National Trust and the NRA together to negotiate a win-win situation with rerouting the East-West Arterial to circumvent sensitive land around the Mastic Trail – a first for Cayman.

    And lastly, Ironwood is being designed by the Arnold Palmer Group, one of the world’s most well-recognised golf brands and themselves stewards of the environment, to satisfy the requirements for the Audubon Society – one of the highest distinctions in environmental sustainability for golf courses.

    Overall, Ironwood is working very hard to be inclusive, to be a good neighbor and to build a community that is respectful of the environment and is sustainable.

    • Anonymous says:

      Denise, you represent a marketing agency and would no doubt be the agency be managing the PR for this development.

    • Bob Smith says:

      It was overheard during the Planning meeting that one of the Ironwood team, said the drawing/plan that was being presented to the CPA was a concept plan…also where on the Arnold Palmer design website is there any mention of the Cayman Islands? I can’t seem to find it and I am fan of golf…

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you boast that your designs will satisfy the requirements of the Audubon Society while refusing to satisfy the Cayman Islands Department of Environment?

      The EIA requirements are published in the National Conservation Law why are you refusing to do it?

  9. Anonymous says:

    pie in the sky, will never get built

    • Greg Norman says:

      I certainly hope it never gets built. It’s a dumb idea to begin with. Grand is not a good place for an uppercrust golf course. It will be another loser for the Caymanian people. How many Caymanians want this? Does no one realize that it’s too hot here for golf most of the time? And………. only very few Caymanians will benefit.

  10. Anonymous says:

    “Concerns ignored” – poor choice of words. Concerns were taken into consideration, and found to be inconsequential.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It amazes me that the CPA continues to ignore those in the know. The experts and scientist that understand the impact of development on our environment. I guess they just don’t give a damn. They worship development and the dollar not the environment.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Its a golf course. It will have the environmental impact of a golf course. Most people are ok with that. You act like its an oil refinery.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a quarry. Massive hole in the ground. Situated between water lenses that are used by the Water Authority for the people of Cayman.

      But don’t let reality cloud your blinkered views.

      Another disgraceful decision by the CPA and the PPM.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sounds like our values may differ a bit on environmental impact.
      Meanwhile the planning board is looking for a few good men. With special interest. Business interest. Not environmental interest.
      You sound like you have a vast knowledge in the environmental area though.
      Sorry. Maybe you could run for office. Unless you are already in office.

      • Anonymous says:

        Not to brag, but I have a degree in biology and one in law. What have you got? This project looks to be a great asset to the island.

        • Anonymous says:

          What I have, my twice papered friend is a different view of the world than you.
          I hope your parents are proud of the way your putting your degree in biology and your degree in law to good use.
          Biology: “It will have the environmental impact of a golf course”
          Law: “Most people are okay with that”
          You put waaaay more time into that assessment than a whole graduating class of biologist ever would.
          Oh, and I have 1 year of college. I did graduate from high school though.

    • Chris Johnson says:

      No surprises about the CPA. As demonstrated last week as regards the Thompson waterfront project designed to preclude the use of the waterfront beaches by the public, the wishes and recommendations of the DOE are completely ignored. The CPA are above the law and nobody seems to care.

      • Frozen says:

        Dear Chris it’s all about the benjimans! You think they care that they will be dumping used tired as fill? Do you you think they care about the contamination of the water lense? Do you think they care how the development will affect the the rare blue iguanas? Do you you think they care that north side will change forever? Do you think they care of the envorinmental impact on the flora and animals in the area? The answer to all my question is no. So I will ask CNS to investigate the following:
        Why is the development going ahead without the bypass road?
        Why is the chairman of the CPA also has the largest hardware store on island?
        Why is it that they have to blast? Is natural lakes there already?
        Who will monitor the concessions? Isn’t mr muffin a developer? Who is to ensure the materials coming on island isn’t going to another project?
        Where is the fill coming from? Another site? If so, where from?
        Do we really need another golf course?
        What will happen to all the farm land in the vicinity?
        How will this development benifit the island? If it is another camana bay protege then what happens to George Town the capital of the island?
        How will this project impact the current infrastructure?
        Why is it that all concerns are ignored?
        Who are the parties really involved with this project?

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not just a golf course, it’s a 1.1 billion dollar 500 acre project, with no clear plans put in place. He’s not sticking 18 flag poles in the middle of nowhere, he’s dessimating what is there, and putting in an unnatural landscape and 18 holes, and this is just the start.

      “Among the worrying elements is the threat to the East End and North Side water lenses from the lakes and waterways the developer plans, as well as its proximity to the Botanic Park. In addition, the piecemeal approach that the CPA is allowing is of major concern to the DoE, as well as the developers’ failure to supply any meaningful information about how they will tackle the myriad environmental threats posed by the project”

    • Anonymous says:

      Except that the water lens in that area is less than 14 feet from the surface, once you breach it and contaminate it you can’t undo it. Not saying it would definitely happen, but that would usually be considered if proper planning were observed. Plus you usually have to clear cut everything, dredge and blast the back-fill to build, doesn’t matter if it’s a golf course or a road, except maybe how much fill is used.

      • Anonymous says:

        We don’t need no stinking water lens. On the other hand the developer really really needs the money.

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