BEST Loses Court Appeal About Caroline Bay

January 20, 2018 | 9 Comments

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] was not successful in their court appeal regarding the Caroline Bay development, with the organisation attempting to object to a roadway on what they said was a “precious agricultural plot.”

A BEST spokesperson said, “BEST has, for the first time, not been successful in an appeal before the Supreme Court. In short, BEST objected to the plan by ‘Caroline Bay’ [CB - formerly Morgan’s Point Limited] to expand what was a farm-tractor access path, through the middle of one of the largest actively-farmed plots on the Island, into a grandiose entranceway for its luxury hotel and condo complex. BEST took the issue on in the public interest of preserving and protecting Bermuda’s dwindling stock of farmland.

“The Chief Justice determined that the Minister for the Environment had absolute discretion to give CB permission for this roadway, despite the following arguments from BEST:

1. It is unfair [avaricious even] for CB, after having benefited so adequately through land-swap, renegotiation of polluted land for pollution-free land, and lease of dozens of acres in addition, to be looking to usurp land outside their holdings to build a fancy roadway based on some arbitrary luxury standard. The developer had already acquired dozens more acres of land than the 37 acres they started with at Southlands.

“The land on the Morgan’s Point peninsula is now owned jointly by Morgan’s Point Limited [now re-branded as “Caroline Bay”] and the Bermuda Government. MPL became owners via a land swap for the Southlands property. In exchange for 37 acres at Southlands they got 80 acres freehold plus 128 acres leasehold at Morgan’s point.

“The previous occupiers at MP left portions of the site, including network of caves, polluted with fuels and chemicals. The Bermuda Government [us] paid for the clean-up. In addition, MPL had the lease boundaries adjusted so their holding did not include the previously polluted and now cleaned-up portion of the overall site.

“The MPL business received special financial and other considerations from Government [e.g. tax relief, planning permissions, waterfront rights, etc.] via the Morgan’s Point Resort Act 2014 [amended. qv].

2. The farm plot they want to desecrate lies outside the almost 210 acres they now control.

“The issue for BEST is that, despite gaining a better than 2:1 swap of freehold [Southlands], plus a lease of 128 acres for 262 years, which includes 15.5 acres of waterfront, CB is fighting to build a major roadway through the middle of farmland outside of their border. This development proposal had been opposed and/or rejected by:

  • The Development Applications Board [DAB]
  • The Department of Planning [DOP]
  • The Board of Agriculture [BOA]
  • The Bermuda National Trust [BNT]
  • The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST]
  • The Bermuda Farmers’ Association [BFA]
  • 1 Independent Inspector
  • 1 Government Minister

“Despite the extended series of rejections to their plan, CB repeatedly appealed the decisions or renewed their proposal until the last OBA Minister [the Hon. Sylvan Richards] finally went along and overturned the DAB decision. The threat to the agricultural plot goes against government’s own 2016 Crop Strategy and against a report on the Role of Agriculture in Bermuda’s Future produced in 2010 for the Environmental Coalition [ECO].

“At first, CB’s argument for building this roadway was that they needed a grand entranceway to match the luxury of the hotel. Our response was, in essence, that with the surfeit of land, freehold and leased, plus the 15.5 acres of prime waterfront [more than any other hotel property in the entire island], they had more than enough land to build a grand entrance, without having to ruin a precious agricultural plot outside of their holdings.

“It seems that argument may have been perceived as costing them credibility—given that they were proposing sacrifice of previous arable land outside their 128 acre holdings for aesthetic purposes—as they then switched to a utilitarian argument that the roadway was ‘needed’. Further, the 2017 Throne Speech expressed a government commitment to preserve open space. Allowing a dirt farm access track to be converted to a major roadway goes against the spirit of that commitment.

3. This development is so large and so environmentally significant it should have been required to produce an Environmental Impact Assessment and Statement [EIA/EIS]—done comprehensively so it covers the entire build-out of the development. CB argued that it is enough to do piecemeal EIA/EISs on subsets of the development as they are slated for construction, and they have been allowed to do this despite arguing that they need the grand roadway now even though it won’t be needed until Phase 2 of the proposed development.

4. The stated need for a grand roadway completely ignores the extensive and unique marine access enjoyed by the property.

“Even though we didn’t win this one, we feel validated for our efforts from CJ Kawaley’s comment in his Judgment that, “BEST and other local environmental bodies have effectively shaped the way major developments progress through the planning process so that applications are subjected to rigorous scrutiny.”

Caroline Bay recently said that construction progress is “well on its way” with over 200 construction workers “hard at work on the site,” with the Caroline Bay Director saying that the first phase of the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residences are “projected to be delivered on time.”

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Comments (9)

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  1. Toodle-oo says:

    Thanks for trying BEST .

    I have little doubt that only when the construction starts for this new gateway will passing drivers then realize what utter stupidity this amounts to .
    It will be almost directly opposite the Pompano Road gate and mere yards away from 2 school bus stops , the PRGC maintenance shed and government water supply facility AND the West End emergency services unit .
    All on a stretch of road that is narrower than where the existing George’s Bay entrance is and the existing George’s Bay Road is already plenty wide enough as it was built by the US

    Common sense tells us why they really don’t want to utilize the existing entrance and instead build this ‘grand entrance’ .

  2. Jus' Askin' says:

    Big Money wins Again :-(

  3. ConcernedBermudians says:

    You say you have over 200 construction works hard at work. How many of these are Bermudians? Not many. Also Caroline Bay, you stated they were going to build a 400 room hotel and another 140 boutique hotel all to benefit Bermuda’s tourism industry. Its all a mess, you never were building this many rooms. You state now you are going to only build a 77room hotel for the Ritz, the rest of the land you are going to sell off for houses and make so much money out of it. Stop the madness. It should be hotels/tourism only which is what the original swap was agreed for.

  4. facts of the rock says:

    someone got paid big bucks for this

  5. frank says:

    They could have had another road that came out by rockaway

    • Toodle-oo says:

      You surely aren’t referring to the existing gate/entrance next to the gas station ?
      That’s already one of the most dangerous short stretches of road on the island . In less than 100 yards there is already the Dr’s office gate , Rose Hill and PRGC gates on the westbound lane. On the eastbound lane there’s a small estate road just west of the gas station , the gas station , Rockaway gate and then 3 private drive way gates . In the mornings and evenings it’s a lethal stretch of road.

      And furthermore putting the Caroline Bay gate in ‘an area like that’ is the real reason they don’t want to utilize the existing George’s Bay gate in the first place !

      • Kathy says:

        You said it! That is the reason…and you watch it will be a totally gated entrance all the way down to a gated property! The area ain’t great!

  6. Sailboat says:

    Yeah, Mr. Richards you got this one wrong. You obviously have no appreciation for the ever-diminishing greenspace on the island.

    Will CB give back to Government an equal or greater parcel of land for this extra bit they have pave permission to develop?

  7. Kathy says:

    That is the reason…and you watch it will be a totally gated entrance all the way down to a gated property! The area ain’t great!

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