BEST concerned about “secret” Government SDO

Posted by on Oct 14, 2010 in Local News & Alerts | 0 comments

Major development being negotiated in secret.

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce is concerned that proposals for major housing development on lands zoned for recreation and tourism as well as woodlands, nature and cave conservation lands in Tucker’s Town are being negotiated without public scrutiny and that the issuance of an SDO is imminent.

BEST has become aware of a proposal being made to government for a development that would require a Special Development Order (SDO).

The proposal is for a large-scale residential development at Tucker’s Point on lands protected by Nature Conserve, Woodland Reserve and Coastal Conserve designations.

The first hint about some form of development proposal pending in this area was shared in general, as we understand it, by Works Minister Derrick Burgess during a constituency meeting.

Although much of the negotiation for this development is taking place behind closed doors – meaning, the public has not been consulted or given an opportunity to make comment – the import of such development is so high that BEST feels compels to comment on the principles involved.

We have no doubt that the proposal’s impacts would be on lands under the highest levels of protection afforded by the Bermuda Plan, including Nature Reserve, Woodland Reserve, Coastal Reserve and Cave Protection areas.

Implementing a housing development on these protected areas would break just about every planning rule there is.

The only way a proposal of this sort could be approved would be via a Special Development Order or SDO.

An SDO may be granted when an application doesn’t fit within the parameters of Planning policy (the Bermuda Plan) but usually this is only done if the proposal is thought to be ‘of national importance’.

It should be noted that Tucker’s Point was granted an SDO for their existing mix of hotel, club and fractional units, a decision that was controversial then because the proposal did not rise to the threshold of ‘national importance’. The SDO was justified mainly because the hotel portion added to Bermuda’s tourist capacity.

We are aware, however, that tourism occupancy at Tucker’s Point is below expectations.

We are concerned that Tucker’s Point is looking to enhance revenue through the unnecessary development and sale of private residences on protected lands via an SDO.

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