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Court hears BImini BLue Coalition on dredging.

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'Great Victory' Over Bimini Dredge Pledge
As of Friday, November 29, 2013
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#By NEIL HARTNELL

#Tribune Business Editor

#[email protected]

#Resorts World (Bimini) yesterday promised not to do any dredging for its proposed ferry terminal before December 16, a development that was hailed as “a great victory for the environment and Bimini”.

#Romauld Ferreira, the attorney representing the Bimini Blue Coalition in its Judicial Review action against the Resorts World project, said that despite the developers giving this undertaking, “we must - and will - get this injunction” to stop work on the project.

#Supreme Court Justice Hartman Longley yesterday declined to give the Bimini Blue Coalition, and Mr Ferreira, the injunction they are seeking on the grounds that the developers’ undertaking effectively produced the same result.

#Justice Longley had earlier this week given the Coalition permission to bring Judicial Review proceedings against both the Government and the developers, as it bids to prevent the proposed Bimini cruise terminal and jetty from ever being constructed.

#But he reserved his decision on the Coalition’s injunction application, and for the developers to hand over relevant documents, until yesterday to enable both the Government defendants and Resorts World/RAV Bahamas to be served with the proceedings.

#The three government defendants are Prime Minister Perry Christie, in his capacity as minister for Crown Lands; Deputy Prime Minister Perry Davis, who is responsible for Ministry of Works-related permits; and the Town Planning Committee.

#They were represented at yesterday’s hearing by lawyers from the Attorney General’s Office, while Resorts World (Bimini) and RAV Bahamas were represented by Sam Rahming from McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes.

#“The essence of it was that we asked for an injunction and Order for discovery. They [government and developers] asked for an adjournment until next week Tuesday,” Mr Ferreira said.

#“We pressed them for evidence of actual permits granted to them. They admitted that they didn’t have the permits to dredge.”

#The Coalition’s attorney said these revelations were significant, given that the developers had told a Town Meeting on Bimini earlier this month that construction on the proposed 4.5 acre artificial island, which will house the cruise terminal, was supposed to begin on Monday, November 11. And dredging is intended to start next month.

#“They provided an undertaking not to do any dredging until this matter is heard, and if the permit to dredge is approved in the meantime they will inform both us and the court,” Mr Ferreira told Tribune Business.

#“Because they gave an undertaking the judge decided not to grant the injunction at this time, but to hear their full submissions on December 16.”

#While the Coalition has yet to achieve its objective of obtaining an injunction that will stop all work by Resorts World until the Judicial Review challenge is heard, the undertaking appears to be the ‘next best thing’.

#“That’s not going to really stop us moving forward. We must, and will, get this injunction,” Mr Ferreira told this newspaper.

#“I’m very satisfied. This is a great victory for the environment and for Bimini. We’ve got the developer to acknowledge they don’t have a permit to dredge, and we got them to give an undertaking in open court not to dredge until this matter is heard.

#“They’ve also given an undertaking to notify us and the court if that permit is issued. This is a great victory. They had an accelerated timeline and were supposed to be dredging by November 25,” Mr Ferreira added.

#“We’ve also got them to disclose what they have; up to this point, they’d released no information. This was after we highlighted what’s going on. It’s in response to the concerns expressed by our client.”

#Mr Ferreira added that the Coalition would also seek an injunction should Resorts World obtain its dredging permit, and subject that specific approval Judicial Review scrutiny.

#Resorts World’s attorneys brought a huge batch of documents to the Supreme Court yesterday, which Mr Ferreira said he would need to study in more detail.

#But, at first look, he said most appeared to be permit applications and government responses to these, rather than the permits/approvals themselves.

#Mr Ferreira said there were two letters from Port Department Commander, Patrick McNeil, dated October 11 and October 23, respectively. They said the Docks Committee had requested Resorts World’s request for approving the Bimini Bay ferry terminal, and a temporary pier, “favourably”.

#Yet the Coalition attorney noted that conditional approval, in regard to the ferry terminal, was tied to the developers also getting Department of Physical Planning permission.

#And, while building permit applications were among the documents supplied, Mr Ferreira said he had yet to see evidence of permits issued under the Planning and Subdivisions Act and the Protection and Conservation of the Physical Landscape Act.

#“They really haven’t disclosed anything, and the undertaking ought to be strengthened,” Mr Ferreira added.

#In previous letters to both the Government and the developers, he expressed concern that allowing Resorts World to create a 4.5 acre artificial island on seabed off Bimini was “not in the public interest” when it came to the use of Crown Land.

#Basing this on the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) findings, Mr Ferreira also questioned whether the developers were in compliance with the Planning and Subdivisions Act, and called on the Government to put an immediate stop to construction works if they were not.

#The developers’ own EIA, as previously reported by Tribune Business, revealed that the cruise ship terminal/dock, which are forecast as producing an 11-fold increase in Bimini’s annual visitor numbers to 570,000, were “incompatible with the existing and future land uses of the remainder of North Bimini”.

#And, in the same breath, the EIA notes that the estimated 570,000 annual visitors that will be attracted to Bimini are “greater than appropriate” for the island’s size, ecology and socio-economy.

#“Given the nature of the proposed development and the serious adverse environmental, ecological, socio-cultural effects thereof, as documented in the developer’s EIA, the grant of a lease or licence of the seabed to the developer cannot be described as in the interest of the Bahamas,” Mr Ferreira said.

#Noting that Bimini residents had not been notified of any Site Plan Application, as required under the Planning and Subdivisions Act, Mr Ferreira said: “Our clients are extremely concerned, and we trust that you agree that it is imperative to put a stop to these works and threatened works pending proper consultation and pending the developers (and the Town Planning Committee) following the Site Plan approval procedure set out in the Act.”

Replies

  • Bimini DreamBimini Dream Posts: 407 Deckhand
    Some very interesting facts. Thanks for posting
    A Part Of Paradise
    http://onetoughkitty.com
  • Most interesting is the agreement not to dredge prior to Dec 16.
    For those who care, there is not a suitable dredge available on the East Coast until next year sometime, so maybe we should n't give RW much credit for their effort!

    At least one dredging company I am very familiar with, will not even quote the job until they see permits. They don't want their price shopped.

    BTW, this is a very small dredging job for the size of equipment required and the Beach and Port work in the US will come first since the projects are all much bigger than this 220,000 cy job.
  • A question for those over there, how is the sheet piling going that will encompass the Island? Any progress on that work?

    My hope is that they don't try filling until they have a complete sheet piling wall to hold the silt inside and help with dredge water quality.
    (If this thing happens.)

    Also I saw another post by Bimini Blue Coalition that shows their support for some work like the Airport renovation. The scary part of the Airport is the proposed ferry dock. Are they reviving those plans of cutting a channel across the flats to get from the airport to the RW development? Watch for this one in the future.
  • biminibradbiminibrad Posts: 373 Deckhand
    Spent thanksgiving here, will update In a few days, lots of updated info.
  • Bimini DreamBimini Dream Posts: 407 Deckhand
    Brad we just arrived today, guess we just missed you guys
    A Part Of Paradise
    http://onetoughkitty.com
  • biminibradbiminibrad Posts: 373 Deckhand
    Just missed you by couple hours coming back thur empty if u need anything. Juliet is there.
  • Blue ZoneBlue Zone Posts: 414 Officer
    So, was something supposed to have happened on Tuesday?

    Although Mr. Ferreira is calling the first round a victory, it looks to me more like a bunt rather than a home run. I would assume they are calling this a legal discovery process, but it seems to me that all that information should have been available to the public in the first instance.

    The bottom line is that Ferreira is up against the AG office and RW in concert. Then there is the judge; we might be looking at three friends and a stranger...
  • biminibradbiminibrad Posts: 373 Deckhand
    What I took from it is rw must notify the court when and if they obtain a permit for dredging???
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,666 Captain
    i think what the court did said is that the petition meets all of the requirements of law to go forward and cannot at this juncture be dismissed. while it refused to issue an injunction, it admitted the petition which seems to allow the coalition the right to seek information and documents to prove that the government and RW did not comply with the various statutes that the coalition believes were violated. this appears to be a very preliminary ruling in what is probably the very initial phase of the litigation.


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