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Support for Harbour Island Development Splits Local Interests (Bahama Journal)
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Page 1 of 1Total of 5 messages
Posted by:May 29th 2005, 05:22:50 pm
Fig Tree News TeamAbaco local government council feels left out of land development decision-making

May 28, 2005 – 10:07
More Concerns Over Passerine Development
Local government officials in Abaco feel shut out of decision making process regarding controversial development.

Local government officials in Abaco are concerned that their position has been usurped by central government in the negotiations in the Baker's Bay (Passerine), Abaco development.

Outgoing chief councillor Walter P Sweeting of Hope Town's District Town Council told The Tribune yesterday that local government officials "hardly had any input into the Passerine development."

Mr Sweeting said he never met with any central government officials and that the council was often informed of decisions about the development only after the fact.

"The only ones who made any attempt to keep us somewhat informed were the developers, but not the central government," he said.
Posted by:May 28th 2005, 03:14:07 pm
island ladyYeah, well, me and a number of my friends went up to Romora Bay this week for the very advertised summer dinner event, and they had to cancel the dinner when we got there because the owners had ran out of gas fuel for the dinner.

How can we trust these fools operators with our environment issues if they can't even figure out how to have gas in the house before announcing an event to the whole island, embarrasing themselves and us at the same time?

Doon make me dead now.
Posted by:May 28th 2005, 02:43:56 am
BrilandkidI am pro enviroment and a Brilander SO to you Mr. Parmenter have you given us a ecological assesment of your (Briland need it so badly) project will do to our Island? Do intend to live in Harbour Island or just see a cash cow? This is our home respect it. Yes we need development, but at what cost and who stands as the principle benifactor of this proposed project and who is the losser. Well I see our enviroment the bigger looser and the people, well they will get a few crumbs that fall off the table of course. Valentines has bent us over in the big way, So it is now your turn to bend us over even further. we must not continue to be bent over in that manner. Some of our polititians just love to be bent over in that manner do not judge us as same. By the way back up off our winter residents they are our family too. Mr. Parmenter If you sir feel that this is such a viable project produce an enviromental assesment. 50 slips is not nessary!!! Brilanders are not transplants nor all idiots either. Do not judge us by our phycial appearence......YES Mr Parmeter. Briland needs investors who has a consideration of it's enviroment and it's people I must say I do not think you do. Again Development must be in consideration of all including, including the enviroment. I am extremely sensitive when it comes to OUR ENVIROMENT. So the signal I wish to send to all is the Bahamains love this Bahamain enviroment. Is that the wrong signal Mr Parmeter??? I also support The save the Guana Cay. Thank you Mr Smith for your support You are quite a Man a real true Bahamaian. We know that you are not antiforeign just 100% Bahamaian who loves and appreciate his homeland I do not see any thing wrong with that. Again thankyou and you have my support. I Love you my Brother. Brilandkid (Briland Sweet Hey!!!!)
Posted by:May 27th 2005, 02:36:53 pm
Fig Tree News TeamAnd in related news from Abaco, where a similar marina development is being contested:

27th May
Guana Cay Case Dismissed
Candia Dames, Bahama Journal

A Supreme Court judge ruled yesterday that the Government of The Bahamas has no legal obligation to consult the public before approving development and threw out the case of the Save Guana Cay Reef Association, which has been fighting a multimillion-development for months now.

It came as a major blow to the group, which had submitted an application to the court to halt the controversial Baker’s Bay development at Guana Cay.

Justice Stephen Isaacs also dismissed the entire action, noting that the association, as the applicant in the matter, had no standing before the court as it was neither a landowner nor a resident with any interest directly affected by the development.

Steve Adelson, a partner with Discovery Land Company, which is carrying out the development, said his team was excited about the decision and feels strongly that it was the right one.

"This was an important decision for The Bahamas and foreign investment, as it upholds the rights of the government to enter into these types of agreement. We are still disturbed at the amount of mis-information and false advertising that [the Save Guana Cay Reef Association] continues to publish.

"We are confident that the people who have taken the time to research the truth contained in the heads of agreement, the [Environmental Impact Assessment] and Discovery’s track record know this is a great project for The Bahamas, Abaco and Guana Cay."

Some residents of Guana Cay, led by Grand Bahama attorney, Fred Smith, have been fighting the development.

The developers have indicated that they expect to commit approximately $500 million to the development over a 10-year period, but the residents claim that the project would have an adverse impact on the island’s natural environment.

The association had asked the court to determine that the National Economic Council had no power or authority to enter into a heads of agreement with the developers and had sought an order prohibiting the government from granting the leases for Crown and Treasury land to the developers.

But Justice Isaacs agreed with Cabinet Secretary Wendell Major that the National Economic Council is in fact comprised of members of the Cabinet, and is therefore effectively the government.

The association also wanted the court to block the granting of any concessions under the heads of agreement with the developers which government officials signed in March.

In addition, as an alternative, the applicant had asked that the government conduct a process of "full and proper public consultation prior to the granting or issuing of any leases, approvals, permits, rights, concessions, exemptions or grants."

The judge found that the Save Guana Cay Reef Association Ltd. had no interest in the proceedings and therefore the injunction should not be granted and further, that it would be pointless to continue the action.

While determining that the court had jurisdiction to grant the relief sought, Justice Isaacs ruled that the applicant failed to show sufficient interest in the matter in order to succeed in a judicial review application.

Pointing to another case which established a precedent in these kinds of matters, the ruling indicated that, "The mere fact that thousands of people join together and assert they have an interest does not create one."

The ruling also indicates that if there is insufficient interest, the court is prohibited from granting leave.

"It is submitted that the heads of agreement which the applicant challenges does not interfere directly with the applicants’ personal or public rights or has adverse financial consequences for it, and therefore this is not a case where leave should be granted," the ruling states.

The developers also noted that the court, in considering whether to grant injunctive relief is required to consider whether the application raises a serious issue to be tried and if so, whether there would be irreparable harm if an injunction is granted.

Justice Isaacs wrote, "It is submitted that there is no important issue of law raised by this application.

The developers during the matter also outlined the damage that they would suffer if the injunction were granted. An affidavit placed the monthly expenditure of the developers in preparatory work as being just under $750,000.

Using another test in reaching his decision, Justice Isaacs also determined that, "…it would be impossible, based on the material before the court, to show that their property was going to be directly affected by the development…"

He also wrote that, "Although much weight was attached to the Environmental Impact Assessment by the applicants, it is not a document on which the court can adjudicate, because ‘it is not a decision making end in itself, it is a means to a decision making end. Its purpose is to assist the decision makers.’"

The ruling states, "In other words the policymakers are armed with the Environmental Impact Assessment for the purpose of deciding what ought to be allowed and what ought to be prohibited with regard to the development."

As indicated, Justice Isaacs also touched on the issue of public consultation. Members of The Save Guana Cay Reef Association, who at one point demonstrated in downtown Nassau against the development, have insisted all along that the government did not consult residents of the tiny island in the Abacos.

But the judge noted that, "There is no statutory requirement for such consultation, although it may amount to good governance and good business practice where a company is embarking on a large scale project.

"The suggestion that such a requirement can be imported from another jurisdiction is rejected in the strongest terms, as such a requirement can only be established by the legislature, and not by a court of law."

The ruling also says, "Although the applicant and its supporters may feel passionately that their pristine and idyllic island paradise ought not to have on it such a large development as proposed, the current application has no more effect than the demonstrations staged by them earlier."

Mr. Smith, the association’s attorney, issued a statement shortly after the ruling was delivered.

"Obviously, the people of Guana Cay are very disappointed by this ruling," he said. "However, this is just a battle in a long war. This is only round one. We are still in the fight. This decision will not deflect or weaken the passionate resolve of the people of Guana Cay to stand up for their rights."

He said the people of Guana Cay are committed to saving their heritage, their community, and their environment, not only for themselves, but future generations of Bahamians.

"This judicial review action is but a small part of their political, legal, public relations, local, national and international campaign to preserve their Crown Land, their way of life, their access to beaches and their environment."

But Mr. Adelson said in his reaction to the ruling that his company’s plans as always have been to develop the project in the highest quality and in an environmentally sensitive manner.

"We have obtained initial permits to clean up the Premiere cruise line damage (previous occupants of the land) and will be receiving our permits for our initial marketing and lodging facilities. We will also be hiring an additional 15 to 20 Abaconians for full time, long-term positions to operate these project facilities. We remain excited and fully committed to Baker’s Bay and The Bahamas."

Several weeks ago, Prime Minister Perry Christie said in the House of Assembly that he was confident that justice would prevail in this matter and that the Guana Cay development was in the best interest of The Bahamas.
Posted by:May 25th 2005, 12:13:02 pm
Fig Tree News Team25th May
Protests Disturb Investors
Bianca Symonette

One of the developers involved in a controversial project for Habour Island warned yesterday that continued protests like the one against his development are sending the wrong signals to foreign investors.

Despite the opposition to the Romora Bay Club project being led by the Save Harbour Island Association, Managing Partner of Romora Bay Development, Darryl Parmenter, also said that there are no plans to scale down the development further.

The Association, which is led by attorney and activist, Fred Smith, claims that the project is just too big for tiny Habour Island and would damage its historical beauty.

Mr. Smith is also on the frontline of other causes, including the fight against the multimillion-dollar development for Guana Cay.

The Save Guana Cay Association is now asking the Supreme Court to halt the project while a judicial review takes place.

Mr. Smith said recently that the Save Harbour Island Association also plans to sue the district council of Habour Island if its demands for a scaled down development are not met.

The attorney also claimed that the council approved the project without considering the concerns of the residents.

"The district council approved in principle this Romora Bay project and the people of Harbour Island did not have the opportunity to participate in a democratic process," Mr. Smith said.

"We are now asking the developers to reconsider their proposal. Their lawyers have been in touch with us and if a compromise can not be reached then we would be suing the developers and the district council in order to get the courts to declare that the decision that they made was unfair."

However, Mr. Parmenter said the project is in fact already scaled down and assured that the concerns of the residents were taken into consideration before the plans were finalized.

"Our scale is very downscale," he said. "It’s 40 units on four and a half acres which by any measure is a low-keyed, downscale development."

Mr. Parmenter claimed during an interview from his Florida office that Mr. Smith and the Association are doing the country a disservice.

"The Bahamas thrives on tourism," he said. "It does not thrive on people with single family homes sitting on the waterfront and the message is very clear, I think, to the Bahamian people that we have a few wealthy persons depriving Bahamians from their right to work," the developer said.

He said those in opposition to the project are simply against new development on Harbour Island.

"I think it’s frivolous and very self-serving and very selfish on the part of those wealthy property owners that are against the project," Mr. Parmenter said.

According to the developer, Mr. Smith’s threat of a lawsuit is premature because the fact of the matter is that most of the Bahamian residents on Harbour Island are definitely supporting the Romora Bay project.

"We haven’t been contacted about any possible lawsuit, but the Association does not have the support of the residents," he claimed.

"Mr. Smith had a petition and it had about 52 signatures for persons who were against the project. So the developers had a petition drawn up and we received…over 300 signatures."

He said that if Mr. Smith were to file a lawsuit and become successful in his quest to have the project scaled down, it would set a very dangerous precedence for future development in The Bahamas.

Nevertheless, Mr. Smith said the Association intends to drive full steam ahead with its plans to sue unless the project is re-drafted in such a way that it meets the acceptable standards of the residents.

Mr. Smith said the Association has serious concerns about how the development would impact the environment – both land and sea.

But Mr. Parmenter said the project will not breach any environmental laws.

Despite all the lobbying against the development on the island, Mr. Smith said he doesn’t want Bahamians to get the wrong perception that he is anti-foreign investment.

In fact, he claimed he is "all for" development once it’s not destroying the pristine nature of the island.

"Let me clarify this," Mr. Smith said.

"I am 100 percent in favour of investment. All I’m saying is just like an American can’t go anywhere in the United States and build where he wants to build without regulatory oversight…neither can [investors] come to [The Bahamas] and do what they want to do without respecting our rights and our laws," he said.

The investors are proposing to develop a 40-unit hotel condominium and a 50-slip marina.

After the project is completed in two years, the developers say 125 permanent jobs will be created.

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