Clashes resume over Riddell’s Bay partitioning
The owners of the former Riddell’s Bay golf course have clashed with a group opposing their plans to rezone the site.
Castile Holdings has submitted plans to break the property into 22 lots, including 18 residential lots, a nature reserve, open space reserves and a recreationally zoned area.
The project aims to create a 66-acre reserve, the largest in Bermuda, but the Riddell’s Bay Members Committee argued the plan would be “detrimental to the conservation of the visual amenities of the area”.
A spokesman for the group said: “While the applicant has hired and paid an ‘environmental expert’ to write a long environmental impact study on what could be done in the new ‘nature preserve’, Riddell’s already is considered one of the largest environmentally protected areas in Bermuda with significant areas of woodland reserve, coastal reserve, nature reserve and recreation zoning.
“Those of us who have signed this petition recognise that the natural habitat in Riddell’s Bay is not found in other areas of Bermuda. We also recognise that changing 20.87 acres of this property to residential two zoning will permanently damage the sensitive ecosystem.”
The spokesman said the property was purchased for commercial reasons, after the developer outbid buyers who wanted to maintain the golf course and recreational zoning.
He said: “Since the applicant could make a substantial profit from the zoning change, this will set a dangerous precedent for other golf courses and athletic clubs.”
The spokesman added that the western residential lots were in an environmentally sensitive area and the applicants would have no say in what is built on the properties and planning studies have shown additional residential land is not needed.
He said: “As such the applicant’s master plan environmental impact study cannot assess what impact this overall proposal will have on the environment.”
The group also said a petition against the plan had garnered more than 1,800 signatures.
A Castile Holdings spokesman responded that the petition was sent out before details of the plan were released, and had signatories, including Fidel Castro and Joseph Stalin. The Castile Holdings spokesman said: “This petition doesn’t stop you from signing as many times you want and with whatever names you want.”
Castile Holdings said the plan had received the support of independent environmental bodies. A spokesman said: “The conservation and redevelopment project is being undertaken in consultation with Bermuda’s leading environmentalists and highly-respected landscape architects, all highly accomplished Bermudians in their fields.
“The majority of independent organisations in Bermuda tasked with protecting the environment have been briefed in detail on the project and have publicly voiced their support for this redevelopment.”
The spokesman continued: “Not a single environmental protection group has voiced opposition to the project.
“We urge any members of the public, who would like to obtain an independent view of our plans to contact any of the environmental protection groups who are familiar with the situation and who actively protect our shared environment.”
The spokesman added that the Riddell’s Bay Members Committee had made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the property. He said: “We understand and accept that there will always be opposition to change. We also understand that you cannot please 100 per cent of the people 100 per cent of the time.
“We are fully transparent in our efforts and welcome feedback and discussion around our plans. Most importantly, we believe in our vision for Riddell’s Bay and are fully committed to making it a reality.”
Riddell’s Bay, Bermuda’s oldest course, closed in 2016 after nearly a century because the club could not meet its operational costs. The subdivision application can be seen at the Department of Planning offices in the Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building.
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