Judkin Lane quarry plan upheld despite report

  • Not budging: Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Not budging: Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A controversial decision to allow a quarry operation in an environmentally significant area has been upheld, despite the recommendation of an independent inspector.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, said that the decision to allow a commercial quarry on Judkin Lane, Hamilton Parish, would stand — even after the outside inspector hired by the Government said permission should be withdrawn.

The application, approved by the Development Applications Board last October, sparked outcry and was appealed by the Bermuda National Trust.

But Mr Roban confirmed the DAB decision in a four-page letter sent to the BNT last week. He explained: “I am satisfied that the planning assessment was carried out in accordance with the statutory procedures and development plan policies.

“I am not persuaded, on balance, that the quarry operations of a short duration, in this case for one year, would be detrimental to the degree suggested by the appellant and the inspector.”

However, Mark Hornell, an independent planning inspector, said the decision should be overturned.

He wrote in his 20-page report: “I believe that it is reasonable to conclude that the board decision to approve the application for a proposed commercial excavation for the quarrying of roof slate is not supported by the information and planning assessment presented by the Department of Planning.”

The quarry application for the property, owned by Nelson Cordeiro, was made by quarry operator Shawn Perott.

A separate planning application for a building permit to construct a house and apartment on the property, along with a garage, pool and deck, was also made.

The application for the house is still under review.

Mr Hornell said that he found the argument made by the BNT that approval of the quarry application prejudged that the board would later approve the development application “very persuasive”.

He added: “The analysis presented in the board report, and subsequently reconfirmed in the director’s case, indicates an assumption on the part of the Department of Planning that the board will subsequently give final approval to the application.

“The assumption about a dire shortage of roofing slate in Bermuda as a consequence of increased demand to repair roof damage from Hurricane Humberto, combined with pre-existing in-principle approval for a modest residential development on site, and a conclusion that the site contained no significant environmental attributes subsequent to its wholesale clearing, resulted in the department presenting an analysis to the board that did not adequately address the overriding environmental policy objectives of the Bermuda 2018 Draft Plan for lands zoned open space reserve with woodland reserve and agricultural reserve conservation overlays.”

Mr Hornell said that the “lack of any attention to the surrounding context of the site, located in an area of significant environmental value ... constitutes, in my view, a significant omission in the planning analysis”.

He added: “As a consequence, the impression reasonably arises that the use of the site for a quarry was a foregone conclusion, insofar as the base assumption of eventual residential development is presented as given.

“As a consequence of this view, the only issues presented to the board as relevant to their decision, had to do with managing operation impacts in the short term, and site preparation for future development and landscaping.

“In the sequence of decision-making, this is to put a subordinate decision — the nature of the excavation — before the primary decision — the extent, form and character of any residential development in an environmentally sensitive area.

“At the very least, any decision on site excavation and quarrying should have been tabled until such time as final planning approval had been rendered for proposed residential development on the site, when decisions on excavation and quarrying could have been made in scale with an approved residential development footprint.”

Mr Hornell said: “A sufficient case has been made by the appellants to justify overturning the board’s decision to approve.”

A ministry spokeswoman confirmed last November that an independent inspector had been hired to examine the plan and the appeal.

She added: “Mr Hornell was contracted to visit six sites, not the Judkin Lane site alone.

“The total cost for the preparation of reports for all six sites, inclusive of flight, hotel and transportation, is $11,307.60.”

To view Walter Roban’s decision and the report by planning inspector Mark Hornell, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”

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Published Feb 11, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 12, 2020 at 8:15 am)

Judkin Lane quarry plan upheld despite report

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