A seeming “breach of planning control” has caused the Development Control Authority (DCA) to order the Hodges Bay Club to cease the expansion works on a section of the property.
In a letter or Enforcement Order, as it is officially called, dated June 11, the Chief Town and Country Planner of the DCA, Frederick Southwell, said “it appears” the Club ignored Section 34(1) of the Physical Planning Act, 2003. He highlighted that he must act where it is found “(a) That any development of land has been carried out without a development permit required under Part IV” since this constitutes a breach of planning control.
The DCA outlined that the specific breaches include: “A pool is being constructed by the villas at the north east corner of Parcel #483. The pool is seven feet beyond the north boundary and will likely impede public access that runs along the northern edge of your property. Impeding public access to a beach is a violation of Section 30 of the Physical Planning Act.”
The second reason for issuing the Order is because “another pool has recently been built on Parcel 464, outside of the property boundary.”
Thirdly, “Boulders have been placed on the beach and are now contributing to erosion problems” and; lastly, “A concrete wall that runs parallel to the beach is built too close to the beach, which could lead to increased erosion during high wave events.”
The letter advises the Club, otherwise referred to as JSN Development Group Ltd, that it has 28 days, ending on July 8, to comply with the “measures stipulated” below.
The remedies identified by the DCA are: “The pool being constructed on Parcel #483 must be moved southwards by at least eight feet, so that it falls within the property boundary and to also adequately allow public access to said beach.”
Secondly, “The new pool built on Parcel #464 that exceeds the property boundary and encroaches onto the foreshore/Crown land needs to be regularised.” Additionally, the Club has been instructed to remove all the boulders from the beach.
Finally, “To safeguard the beach from further erosion, and to promote sand accretion, you will need a Coastal Engineer to produce designs appropriate for coastal structures for the area. These designs should then be submitted to the DCA for vetting by all the relevant agencies, and for final approval.”
If the Club wishes to appeal, the DCA boss said it has 42 days within which to do so otherwise, any appeal filed thereafter would not be valid.
The DCA warns the Club that failure to comply within the stipulated time would amount to an offence for which a fine of $500 would be imposed if someone is charged and convicted under Section 80(1) of the Physical Planning Act.
Late last month, the Club had voluntarily stopped work on the areas mentioned after residents approached the investors with concerns about beach access and encroachment on government lands.
At that time, the Chief Executive Officer/Director of the Club and Blu Pearl, the construction company executing the construction project, Jeff Wellemeyer, said there was no intention to breach the laws.
He had also denied encroaching and said those complaining were looking at the wrong map.
Wellemeyer had also confirmed that the DCA visited the site and this was as a result of a report from the Department of Environment and complaints from residents of Hodges Bay who are represented by attorney Monique Francis-Gordon, who is also a concerned resident. Late yesterday, he said he was not aware of the latest development with the issuance of the DCA’s order.
It was on May 23 that the Department of Environment wrote to the Authority asking it to take action to stop the work at the Club until the issues were discussed and addressed.
And, that request was made following a site visit on May 22 by environment officers Rudolph Zachariah and Alexander Desuza who said that upon inspection, they found five issues, including: A new pool has recently been constructed outside of the property boundary; a second pool is currently being constructed by the villas which is 10 feet from the shoreline in a 100 ft setback zone; public beach access has been blocked off; boulders have been placed on the beach and contributing to erosion problems; workers have also been seen using pails to remove sargassum from the beach and throw[ing] it on the other side of the groyne.”
Hodges Bay Club was due to open earlier this year, but in a communique last November, the company said the storms which occurred in September, had caused delays in the shipment of critical equipment via the Port of Miami, prohibiting the timely completion of all work at Hodges Bay.
The new opening date for the resort is July 1, 2018.
The investors have said the property will have 79 accommodation options, offering a total of 122 guestrooms.