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Fed-up neighbours cry foul over Azura construction

Dyrone Minors at the Azura construction site next door to his neighbourhood (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

Angry neighbours have criticised the construction of a hotel and condo at the Azura and Nautilus site on South Shore and demanded compensation for damage to their homes and contamination of their water.

A group has met area MP Lawrence Scott and asked him to speak on their behalf with John Bush, the developer of the land in Warwick, once the site of the old Surf Side Beach Club.

Dyrone Minors, 63, is a lifelong resident of Tearoom Hill, a residential lane overlooked by the complex of developments.

Mr Minors, who works in construction, said his home was one of three in the area where vibrations from excavation of the bedrock and pile driving for the project had cracked water tanks.

“The developer has said this project is about turning lemons into lemonade, but he’s left in the seeds and the rind,” Mr Minors said. “That’s the downside of his development.”

He said sand and dust billowing from the construction site turned to silt in water tanks and claimed diesel exhaust from heavy construction equipment had discoloured roofs.

Mr Minors showed an Environmental Health test result dated August 15 confirming his water was “unsatisfactory in accordance with potable water standards”.

He said windborne sand had been a problem from “around 2017 moving forward”, but worsened when piles of construction materials were left on the southwest corner of the property.

“The wind mostly blows out of the southwest and it blows it to our homes,” said Mr Minors, who offered to mediate by raising the issue with Mr Scott last year at a town hall meeting.

“We want to ask Mr Scott to meet with Mr Bush about compensation or reimbursement if residents got their tanks cleaned or repaired.”

He said cracks developed in his tank in 2021 and more debris had come from excavations ongoing to the east of Nautilus House.

“The general public really doesn’t know what’s going on there because they can’t see it. I feel like this development is secretive.”

Ongoing construction at the Nautilus Hotel site, managed by Atlantic Hotel, that includes a hilltop four-storey building, has resulted in complaints to the planning department from neighbours.

One couple, who bought the adjacent Nautilus Penthouse, wrote to planning officials on July 26 to say that they had been surprised by the scale and scope of the project.

They told Victoria Cordeiro, director of planning, that the deadline for objections to designs for the proposed Nautilus Building No 2 had expired on the day they heard about its scale.

The couple, who asked not to be named, still asked for their complaints to be heard “based on the merits presented”.

Anything above two storeys would breach the ridgeline, they said, and its size would make it “excessively prominent from various public vantages”.

They added that Nautilus Building 2’s size could threaten access to Nautilus Building 1 for emergency vehicles.

Bob Richards, a former government minister and 44-year resident of Williamsholme Drive to the west, also weighed in on the planning director on July 28, writing of his “extreme dissatisfaction” with the proposed tourism development.

Mr Richards wrote that his family had “with reluctance endured the hotel piecemeal building activities to our east with the hope it would soon be over”.

“This latest application not only extends our collective misery but it also devalues the economic investment in our properties over many years. The scale, massing and height of the proposed development is completely out of proportion and context of the surrounding residential area.”

Mr Richards asked that “further developments in this area be scrapped” and accused the development of “incrementally” growing by “less than transparent means”.

Atlantic Hotel responds

Atlantic Hotel has defended the development and insisted that it had been in frequent contact with the Department of Planning to ensure building regulations were observed.

But in a statement last night, a company spokesman said that it understood the frustrations of neighbours.

The spokesman added that some of the comments by neighbours were not factually accurate and “likely reflect their understandable frustration with construction activity near their homes”.

The spokesman said: “They happen to be located immediately next to property that has been zoned tourism for decades. Azura and Nautilus are Tourism developments and are recognised as such by the Department of Planning and the ministries of tourism and finance.

The Azura Hotel is thriving and growing, receiving exceptional reviews from hotel guests. The hotel residences at Nautilus will create additional critically required scale — added hotel keys — to the hotel operations.

“The Nautilus development is no larger than originally planned. It is built over a carefully planned time period and business structure to allow for a conservative capital structure with very limited debt that will ensue long-term financial viability and sustainability for the full Azura/Nautilus hotel.

“Azura and Nautilus have been developed in close consultation with, and fully within the guidelines of, the departments of planning and building control, and all other regulatory bodies in Bermuda. Roughly 95 per cent of the development area of the total Azura/Nautilus Resort was zoned tourism, and no work was performed in, or ever proposed for, any sensitive areas not intended for or allowed for development.

“The site naturally is almost entirely soft material, the excavation of which – in conjunction with Bermuda’s south shore breezes – does necessarily cause some airborne dust and sand. Due to the natural geology of the land, there has been no need for hammering of hard rock as may happen elsewhere in Bermuda, and no piles have been driven on the site.

“As a result, engineering consultants have repeatedly stated to AHL there is no concern for cracking of any adjacent structures or tanks, residential or otherwise.

“A core part of our company policy at all projects is to work as closely and constructively as possible with neighbouring property owners.

“We have previously given all neighbours of Azura and Nautilus substantial personal attention on any concerns and have made payments as appropriate during the development of both projects to address roof and tank cleanliness concerns.

“Neighbours who have expressed concerns in this article have already received direct payments from AHL to clean their properties, inclusive of roofs and tanks. This amounts to a significant investment on the part of the developer.

“The sand and dust produced at Nautilus has been reduced dramatically in 2023. Atlantic Hotel have acted in good faith and as good neighbours to the best of their abilities at each and every stage of this tourism development — as Clearwater Development did while developing Azura.”

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Published August 23, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated August 23, 2023 at 7:36 am)

Fed-up neighbours cry foul over Azura construction

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