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BEST will oppose Grand Atlantic expansion

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce (BEST) has launched a new public lobbying campaign to generate objections to plans submitted to build more units at the Grand Atlantic site.

The deadline for objections to the application submitted by developer Gilbert Lopes to build 52 one-bedroom units in three two-storey buildings is on June 14 at 5pm. The plans also include parking spaces for 71 cars and 53 bikes.

In a statement, BEST Chairman Stuart Hayward questioned the need for further development on a site that remains virtually empty. He also charged that the application submitted to the Department of Planning is “incomplete”. This he said “makes it difficult for planners and the public to know exactly what is planned and where”.

Mr Hayward said: “Residents in the area and just about everyone who has passed by the newly-building housing development on the Grand Atlantic site are still shocked by the assault on the senses from the unfortunate construction.

“The Government indicated through the Bermuda Housing Corporation that it would not be buying anymore than the 78 units built so far, so any more development will be private and subjected to the regular planning process.

“That means that unlike the SDO that allowed the Grand Atlantic condos (and a hotel that never materialised), the current application can be viewed and objected to by any citizen. We encourage anyone who feels there has been enough already built at that site to submit an objection,” he said.

When contacted, Community Development Minister Wayne Scott said: “This application is from a private citizen and is not connected with the BHC Grand Atlantic project. As such, I have no official comment.”

In the House of Assembly on Friday he said: “There are no plans to develop a hotel on the Grant Atlantic site.

“There was an SDO under which the current Grand Atlantic homes were built. And part of that SDO was the building of additional units as well as a hotel component, and Bermuda Housing Corporation is not going forward with that.

“From my understanding, there is not planned to be any additional work under that SDO at this point. However, when we look at the project as a whole, especially with regards to the RFI that was put out, the whole package of the property could potentially be looked at.”

The Minister was responding to questions from Lawrence Scott after informing the House that five proposals had been received in response to a request for interest issued by his Ministry for the failed housing project.

Mr Lopes, who is currently off the island also declined to comment.

The absence of a hotel on the site topped the list of reasons why the environmental watchdog group is opposed to further development. Mr Hayward said this is “yet another case in which and SDO granted for a hotel/housing combination where the hotel was never built”.

“The Grand Atlantic now joins the infamous examples of Palmetto Bay and Tucker’s Point,” Mr Hayward said.

“There is still the very real concern about potential for erosion of the cliff-face that has not been adequately addressed, particularly related to heavy weather erosion. All the questionable issues of traffic, density, noise, erosion, setbacks, aesthetics and the overall impact of this development on an already dense neighbourhood points to the necessity for an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) — which should have been done before the first phase of development was approved.”

He also questioned the need for “this additional stock of housing” in the current market. And he reiterated the area of land has been zoned for tourism.

“While the Grand Atlantic SDO lifted that zoning for the condos, that SDO cannot, unless amended, be used for this development because, for one thing, the SDO stipulated two and three-bedroom units while this development is for one-bedroom units,” he said.

BEST has also called for a traffic study to be conducted. “Already the access/exit to the gas station is considered dangerous and ‘a serious accident waiting to happen’.

“Planners should know what impact can be expected from the maximum combined traffic of the existing development plus this new development plus the gas station and the row of commercial establishments across the road,” he added.

“The development appears very dense for the lot size. Density-related issues such as noise, stress and crime ought to be examined and understood first.”

He concluded: “Enough already. The existing development is an eyesore, a blight on that entire section of South Shore. What once was the gateway to the South Shore has been ruined. No additions should be permitted.”

Potential objectors were urged to send objection letters on the application submitted by Atlantic Development (BDA) Ltd, listed as P0164/13 to the Department of Planning, to the Director.

Letters may be sent via e-mail to Cheryl Wright at cwright@gov.bm.

A file photo of construction work at the Grand Atlantic development on South Shore. Proposals for further building at the site is being opposed by the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce.

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Published June 10, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 09, 2013 at 11:08 pm)

BEST will oppose Grand Atlantic expansion

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