Audubon Society objects to plan for tourist units
The Bermuda Audubon Society is to object to an application to renew approval for a development on the grounds of historic Walsingham House, the organisation's president said yesterday.
The Hamilton Parish property, home to Tom Moore's Tavern, is owned by restaurateur Bruno Fiocca.
Planning approval for the construction of four tourist units on the 4.4-acre property was first granted to Mr Fiocca in 2008.
The current renewal application provides that the units will be for residential use. Anyone who wishes to object must do so by Friday.
Karen Border, of the Audubon Society, said: “What we will draw attention to in our objection is the extreme environmental sensitivity of the area. It is a water resources protection area and a cave protection area. Both are specially designated conservation areas under the Bermuda Plan.
“It is also surrounded by one of the most precious areas of nature reserve in Bermuda. The proposed site for these additional buildings is just over one metre above sea level, and at serious risk of hurricane flooding.
“Hurricane Fabian caused major flooding in the area, washing large quantities of debris from the property into Walsingham Lake and the surrounding protected mangroves. The more we build in such a low- lying area, the more risk there is of debris being washed into the surrounding nature reserve and waste contaminating the underlying cave system.”
Mr Fiocca said: “Fabian was bad not only for us, it did it to Bermuda. Every 60 years, something like this happens; it is not every year you have Fabian.
“Flooding was everywhere in Bermuda; it was a unique thing that happened. Hopefully, another Fabian will not come, but you never know.”
Mr Fiocca said he was “very surprised” that the Audubon Society was going to object to the renewal application.
He said: “They never did anything like that before. The area for the building is in the back where the parking lot is now. I don't think it would be bad for the environment.”
He said development of the site was not imminent.
Mr Fiocca said: “I wish … in different times, I would like to do that. But at the moment, we are in a very bad situation. I am not planning to do it tomorrow, that's for sure.”
Ms Border added: “The whole Walsingham area is one of Bermuda's national treasures. It is important for environmental reasons, historical reasons and because the tavern is a Grade 1-listed building.
“We understand that as a private landowner that puts Mr Fiocca in a difficult position. The ideal solution would be for Mr Fiocca to be compensated to preserve the land for the nation.
“However, faced with current challenges, neither the Government nor non-governmental organisations are really in a position to acquire the land, unless a Good Samaritan steps forward to assist financially.”