BEST Express Concern Over 3-Storey Building

December 8, 2012

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce [BEST] expressed grave concern about the appeal upheld by Environment Minister Marc Bean giving in-principle approval for “new 3-Storey Group Housing (Senior Housing or Orphanage or Children’s Home), Children’s Day Care, and Farm Equipment Garaging: Retroactive Approval of 2 Storage Sheds.”

BEST contends that this application was so flawed that it should not have been considered by the DAB, much less reached the Minister’s desk.

Additionally, BEST notes that the applicant was listed merely as Spice Hill Farm, which they called an “unidentifiable entity.” They also noted the listed intended use was either an orphanage, a children’s home or a senior’s residence. ”It would appear the applicants have no clear idea what they want to use the building for as long as they can get approval to build,” said BEST.

The concerns listed by BEST are below:

At the top of our concerns are the irregularities in the application that led to its being turned down by the Development Applications Board (DAB):

“1.The application contained:

  • a) insufficient information to enable a proper assessment of the proposal,
  • b) insufficient information to determine traffic impacts and parking requirements,
  • c) insufficient information to determine adequacy of outdoor amenity area and secured play space provision for day care students and/or orphanage or children’s home residents,
  • d) insufficient information to determine adequacy of water or sewer provisions.

2.The proposed building exceeds the limits for a ‘Residential-scale’ project, as required by the Rural zone policies for floor space and building height.

3.The proposed hard surfaced area (floor space plus pavement) is almost double that allowed for development in a rural zone and the application is for a three-storeyed building where a two-storey maximum applies.

The DAB also commented specifically in its “Advice Note” that accompanied the refusal: “The Board wishes to express concern that the applicant has shown blatant disregard for the planning process in that the existing large storage sheds on the site have been constructed without obtaining planning or building permit approvals.”

BEST contends that this application was so flawed that it should not have been considered by the DAB, much less reached the Minister’s desk.

Additionally, BEST notes that the applicant was listed merely as Spice Hill Farm, an unidentifiable entity, when we are informed that an applicant needs to be identifiable as an individual, a Trust or a Company. Also, the location of the site was vaguely listed as “Vacant lot off Spice Hill Road”. As Spice Hill Road is over one mile long, such a vague description is unacceptable and any application advertised as such risks escaping the notice of neighbours. Even more vague is the intended use, either an orphanage, a children’s home or a senior’s residence. It would appear the applicants have no clear idea what they want to use the building for as long as they can get approval to build.

The Minister claims any of these uses rise to the level of “national interest”. We contend that a) none of these uses merit overthrowing the rules governing development on scarce rural-zoned land — especially when there are “brownfield” sites suitable for redevelopment; and b) the closure of the Sunshine League was not deemed a “national interest” issue.

We also note that the appeal was launched on 6 January 2012, but was not decided until 20 November, ten months later and in the run-up to a general election. We understand that it is parliamentary convention that no major or controversial decision be made by a Cabinet Minister after parliament has been dissolved. This decision is definitely controversial and, by convention, the Minister would have suspended a decision until after the election.

By allowing the appeal, the Minister is not only rewarding non-compliance, he is also in effect condoning the breaking of the rules. This cannot be in the National Interest. Further, the Minister has overturned extensive reasoning by the Department of Planning, the Development Applications Board and the Independent Inspector, all of whom argued that the appeal should be denied.

BEST will be further reviewing the file and is exploring avenues for challenging this decision in the public interest. We have not ruled out invoking a Judicial Review.

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Category: All, Environment

Comments (28)

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  1. Small fry says:

    PLP Friends and family plan again

  2. Family Man says:

    The applicant was an “unidentifiable entity”.

    And such a flawed application as this, originally denied by the DAB, was approved personally by the minister upon appeal.

    Please end the corruption.

    Instead of voting AGAINST the plp I’d be much more inclined to vote FOR the OBA if they committed to rooting out and prosecuting fraud. Instead they’re as quiet as Paula and the Doc.

  3. Verbal Kint says:

    When the DeSilva/Burgess planning affair was going on it was predicted that something else would come right before Christmas. For it to come right before Christmas and while Parliament is in dissolution is a double whammy. This has all the hallmarks of being a totally corrupt deal. Marc Bean really has to go

  4. Y-Gurl says:

    This is just another example of the insider contract dealings that the PLP have been doing since day one, burgess, desilva there all at it and only back down when the get caught by us “stupid citizens” who know nothing about these issues. Friends, family and kickbacks

  5. Verbal Kint says:

    So does anyone know who Spice Hill Farm is?

  6. Paul says:

    Looks like the application is so vague because they’re trying to possibly sell the land with multiple planning permissions in place, which would command a higher price and make it easier to sell.

  7. street wise says:

    I see the self-serving insider deals continue to fill the pockets of those on the plp friends & family plan. Nothing’s gonna change with the plp.

    And you’re thinking about voting these lot back in??!! Really??!!
    How could you vote against your own well-being?!

    Enough is enough.

    The PLP. No talent. No plans. No ideas. No solutions. No money. No jobs. No hope. No future.

    Vote wisely.

  8. Prayerful says:

    I too, have lost respect for Marc Bean. I thought that he was different, I thought he was a man of principle. However, it looks as if the people are right. How could he, in good conscience, overall the DAB’s ruling.

    For once I agree with BEST and Stuart Hayward.

    • Y-Gurl says:

      I dont think he has principles, he came in there talking a load of crap, flexing his political muscles, trying to emulate brown and has fallen into the same shameful practices as the rest of them

  9. navin johnson says:

    since when would a vague plan with no recognizable entity ever stop Marc Bean or any other PLP Environment Minister from trying to slip it past the system……environmental decisions should never rest in the hands of a PLP Minister…..

  10. Concerned Citizen says:

    All you bloggers obviously do not understand the planning appeals process. As has been noted, the appeal was lodged earlier this year, which means that it must go to the independent inspector, who only visits on island 3-4 times a year. The Minister then receives the file in addition to multiple others, at which point he/ she must make a decision for each one. So the timing of the decision being announced is normal, and it reveals the actual decision was made a few months ago. Also, let’s remember that this is an in-principle approval, meaning that the applicant must provide additional information before final approval is granted. As a Minister of Planning, Marc Bean has proven to be steady, and made very good decisions, including the Desilva and furbert issues. As his judgement indicates, this appeal decision was made in the national interest……we have an ageing population, high demand for day care, no government money to meet these requirements, etc, so Marc Bean decision is wise IMHO. It also gives a minor boost to the construction industry by the private sector investment. I have the greatest respect for Marc Bean, as foresee him becoming the Premier of Bermuda in the future.

    • More with less says:

      Yes because if their is anything Bermuda needs in a national emergency sense is another building. We just don’t have enough sitting empty at the moment. All makes perfect sense…

    • Pleaseee – you are so wrong. Under the Planning Statement this is not allowed. End of story. If the application is not submitted with a name again it cannot be considered. National interest my arse! There are many Rest Homes that people can consider.
      Marc is using his Political status to push forward his mates useless ideas for their own self interests – undersea mining as well as longline fishing??

  11. Verbal Kint says:

    @ Concerned Citizen. Excuses. If the decision was reached months ago, the timing of releasing it now is even more suspect. As for the Desilva/Furbert decisions, he delayed and delayed, then made the only decision he could and then manipulated the release of the decision. He made a complete furball of the telecom issue. As for looking out for seniors, someone needs to paint the Sylvia Richardson Center. It is a disgrace.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Please! Marc bean handled the Desilva affair very well. I can imagine if if allowed to go through, you would be screaming crucify him. And, I can tell you as a telecoms employee/manager, Bean has done more for telecoms than any other Minister,moats or present. But I understand your jealousy, it’s obvious.

      • Verbal Kint says:

        So, telecom reform is in place and the companies are not still embroiled in a legal battle. I hadn’t heard. I guess I need to keep up.
        As I said, he did the only thing he could in the Desilva thing but he manipulated the release of the statement, evidently to prove a point. Now he has done the same thing Roban was booted out for doing.
        Do me a favor and don’t assume you know more about me than you do. I don’t tend toward jealousy, and I have absolutely no reason to be jealous of Mr. Bean. For one thing, I have a real job that I got through my abilities, not a POSITION someone unilaterally decided I was good enough for.

        • Verbal Kint says:

          “Bean has done more for telecoms than any other Minister”
          Which telecoms?

  12. smith says:

    The Planning notes:

    P0453/10 SPICE HILL FARM
    Vacant Lot off Spice Hill Road, Warwick
    New 3-Storey Group Housing (Senior Housing or Orphanage or Children’s
    Home), Children’s Day Care, and Farm Equipment Garaging; Retroactive
    Approval of 2 Storage Sheds, Perimeter Fencing and Driveway through
    Woodland Reserve
    - Refused by the Board on 21 December 2011
    - Appealed by the applicant on 6 January 2012
    - The Minister upheld the appeal on 20 November 2012

    This is what concerns me…Driveway through Woodland Reserve (so much for woodland reserve management), Retroactive Approval of 2 Storage Sheds (are they going to be fined or have the incresed planning fees) Farm Equipment Garaging (near a place where children can get access?)

    If this is part of Warwicks greenbelt then BEST should be jumping up and doen.

  13. Stuart Hayward says:

    Concerned Citizen says:8:35 am “Please! Marc bean handled the Desilva affair very well. I can imagine if if allowed to go through, you would be screaming crucify him.”

    Actually, Minister Bean dropped the ball in the DeSilva affair: He withheld disclosure of his decision. That withholding coincided with Minister DeSilva’s withdrawal of his application. It’s obvious that Min DeSilva wouldn’t have withdrawn his application if Min Bean was going to approve the appeal, so one can only assume that Min DeSilva was given prior knowledge of Min Bean’s decision and, to avoid embarrassment, he withdrew the application. Min DeSilva was informed of the decision while the public was not. That kind of clever but unethical behaviour does not encourage trust.

    • Verbal Kint says:

      Thank you.

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Mr. Hayward, for all your dishonesty and continued pandering, you are fortunate that Bean hasn’t publicly embarrassed you. He made a good point on the news last night about the way you select what you deem to be an issue. The public know your mission mr. Hayward, and to whom you depend on for support. Marc bean handled the Desilva affair very well. When was the last time in Bermuda politics that a sitting minister reviewed and then overturned a previous decision? Never! Imagine the courage it took to do so against his own colleagues. Imagine the PLP backlash? Mr. Hayward, I find you to be a very dishonest man who lacks credibility. You are not a lover of nature, but more so a conservationist on behalf of the wealthy elite to who you seek approval and relevance from on a daily basis. When was the last time you made a contribution to the sunshine league, or any community effort that uplifts the black community? You are a representative of a powerfull special interest group, so your efforts are discredited. You are a hater of your own people, and would prefer to save a tree instead of ensuring the elders and young people have adequate facilities. Have you noticed mr. Hayward that this issue is no longer news? Why, because the people listen and believe Bean over anything you may say. You are not credible except in the eyes of your paymasters. Your brand of political environmentalism is at its core, anti-economic, thus making your views, inherently anti-human. @ verbal kint, please do tell why you desire to try and demean an intelligent, upright, well-respected man in our community. Marc bean is accomplished in many ways, including business, but, that non of your business. If you are so confident in your words, make yourself known to him and have a discussion. In fact, go ask your Oba MPs what they think of Marc bean, as I’ve heard it for my own ears. Go ahead, ask them, Craig, Mike, Cole, Grant, Pat, Donte, Mark P, Trevor, and the list goes on. In fact, there are more Oba members that like him then in the PLP. Ever wondered why this is the case? But you are bias and jealous of the man, so we understand. You cannot fit in, let alone walk, in his shoes. If he was Oba, you would call him the next sir John, the only difference is that Marc bean cannot be brought, let alone be a surrogate. Hush up, envious little-minded people.

      • Verbal Kint says:

        I have told you I am not OBA. Your support of Mr. Bean seems to be no more than an attack on Stuart Hayward. I am the kind of person that people who argue your points find troublesome because I don’t have an agenda or owe anything to anyone. I am not motivated by party politics, money, or race. My only hope is to see right done, and overriding a planning decision at Christmas when Parliament is in dissolution is a HIGHLY questionable maneuver. I personally don’t care what ANY MP’s think of Mark Bean. I am more than capable of forming my own opinions. Mr. Hayward is right. The DeSilva affair was a disgrace. Pray tell what business besides Gov’t.that Mark Bean has been so successful in. One day I will make myself known to him and to you, and you may well wish you hadn’t bothered me to do so.

      • Kim Smith says:

        And you, CC, are full of nonsense! Please reveal who you are so that we can fully measure your comments.

  14. Zombie Apocalypse says:

    If we could find out who would benefit financially from this building, we will undoubtedly find out why Mr Bean made such an otherwise inexplicable decision.

    • This might be an “In Priniciple Application” approval condition attached to sale. ie. someone is will buy this subject to approval of a change of use or approval to build their desired building.

  15. Stuart Hayward says:

    Concerned Citizen says at 3:36 pm
    “Marc bean handled the Desilva affair very well. When was the last time in Bermuda politics that a sitting minister reviewed and then overturned a previous decision? Never! Imagine the courage it took to do so against his own colleagues.”

    CC, you’re not paying attention. Marc Bean didn’t overturn the DeSilva decision. DeSilva withdrew his application. In fact, Marc Bean refused to make public what stance he took on the DeSilva decision — that wasn’t courageous, that was saving face.

    As for the rest of your post, if you had substantive arguments on the issue you wouldn’t need to resort to personal attacks…