BEST takes aim at Tucker’s Point’s application at Planning
The SDO battle may be over but the row over the Tucker’s Point expansion is far from finished as campaigners gear up for the next stage of the planning process.
Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce is preparing to lobby the Development Applications Board, and possibly Environment Minister Walter Roban, when developers lodge their proposal aimed at transforming the luxury resort.
As with any development on the Island, Tucker’s Point must now submit a plan to the DAB, which will then hold a meeting, possibly in front of the public, to decide whether to approve it. Mr Roban then has the power to overturn the DAB decision.
Stuart Hayward, of BEST, said he would be scrutinising the plan for any environmental concerns, and would put a case to the DAB if necessary.
Mr Hayward said: “We have no way of knowing how Tucker’s Point will make its application.
“Will they make an application for all the lots at once, or will they do it piece by piece as they sell them off?
“We monitor the Official Gazette anyway, so we will be alert to any application that comes forward.
“First of all, we will be looking to see they are meeting the conditions set out in the SDO, such as a number of studies which have to be done. Then we will be seeing if what they want to do is environmentally sound and it meets the development plan.”
Usually DAB meetings are behind closed doors, but it has the power to allow representation if it wishes.
Mr Hayward said: “We have always had faith in the DAB. Over the years, the DAB has been a really fair and highly learned body. They have usually done their work very well.
“We would make our objections known in writing. Depending on what details are in the plan, we might spend more or less effort in alerting the public to certain points.
“The DAB, depending on how they saw the public response, would then decide whether they need to have the meeting public.”
Mr Hayward said he is concerned Mr Roban, who has already come out strongly in support of the expansion, should have the power to overturn the DAB decision.
“It would be inherently wrong for a party of interest to also be the final judge,” said Mr Hayward.
“Maybe he could hand the decision to an arbitrator.”
The Environment Ministry provided a checklist of how the planning process goes forward from here:
l planning applications are published, with a ten working-day window for people to review applications at the Planning Department and decide whether to object;
l objectors will be informed of any modifications to the application;
l the DAB will consider the application, all supporting studies and all objections. The DAB has the power to hold hearings either in camera or in public prior to a making a decision and will give due consideration to this matter at the appropriate time;
l DAB meetings are not usually open to the public. It can allow the public to attend if it wishes, although the actual decision would be made behind closed doors;
l the minutes of the meetings are published on the Department of Planning’s website;
l the decisions of the DAB are appealable to the Minister. If the DAB approves an application, objectors can appeal the decision or any condition attached to the decision. If the DAB refuses an application the applicant can appeal the decision. Objectors will be forwarded copies of the appellant’s case and be invited to respond;
l the Minister will refer the appellant’s case and any response to that case to an independent planning inspector;
l the inspector will review all of the material, including conducting a site visit, before making a recommendation to the Minister;
l the Minister will consider the inspector’s recommendation, and either support it or override it. Should the Minister override it, he will put in writing his reasons for doing so.