By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Louis Bacon has slammed claims he is using the Save the Bays coalition as ‘cover’ for his dispute with his neighbour as “entirely misguided”, while adding that alleged unauthorised development at Nygard Cay
“sets a dangerous precedent for the Bahamas if left unchallenged”.
The hedge fund billionaire, in a November 18, 2013, affidavit filed with the Supreme Court, agreed that he was “personally affected” by Mr Nygard’s alleged unregulated development, but said the Coalition’s mission was more important than any personal issues.
Pointing to Save the Bays’ wider activities, Mr Bacon said it was also “raising awareness” about Resorts World Bimini’s project, and had written to all the oil companies based at Clifton Pier seeking their support to help protect the environment
His affidavit is one of several documents filed by Save the Bays with the Supreme Court, in a bid to strike out parts of an earlier affidavit filed by Keod Smith, Mr Nygard’s Bahamian attorney.
The Coalition had alleged that Mr Smith himself had carried out “unauthorised development and construction works” at nearby Jaws Beach by building a dock, and subsequently obtained leave to both issue Judicial Review proceedings against him, plus an injunction forcing him to halt work.
Mr Smith then filed a summons seeking to set aside both the Judicial Review action and the injunction, and his supporting affidavit contained numerous claims and allegations the Coalition wants to strike out.
Several allegations referred to Mr Bacon personally, and the Moore Capital Management chief, in his November 18 filing, branded these as “a smokescreen intended to distract attention from the real issues”.
Acknowledging that his Point House home at Lyford cay was next to the Canadian fashion mogul’s home, Mr Bacon said: “It is no secret that I am personally affected by any unregulated development occurring at Nygard Cay and that, as someone with a reverance for the natural world, I might be more concerned than some people about the possibility of harm to the environment.”
And, acknowledging their ongoing legal dual, Mr Bacon countered: “Any suggestion that the Coalition is a pretext for me to pursue a personal dispute with [Mr Nygard] is entirely misguided.
“The issues at stake are more important than any personal issues I have with [Mr Nygard]; they concern the protection of the environment and the unregulated development of Crown Land.
“I, and other members of the Coalition, believe that if this is left unchallenged, it sets a dangerous precedent in the Bahamas.”
Mr Bacon, in an affidavit that may reignite the battle with Mr Nygard, accused his neighbour of carrying out unpermitted construction, dredging and land reclamation at Lyford Cay for “many years”.
“In so doing, he has trespassed on Crown Land and caused damage to the coast and marine environment,” Mr Bacon alleged, adding that a new groyne extending south-east from Nygard Cay had just been added.
“The size of his land has almost doubled as a result of his activities,” he further alleged.
Mr Bacon also claimed that Mr Smith’s activities on Jaws Beach were “a further example of unauthorised and unregulated development on public land”.
“The purpose of the Judicial Review proceedings is squarely in line with one of the objectives of the Coalition, namely to draw attention to - and prevent - unregulated development at Clifton Bay and in the Bahamas generally,” Mr Bacon alleged.
“Indeed, we changed our name from the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay to Save the Bays to reflect how Clifton Bay acts as a microcosm for other Bays in the Bahamas.”
Responding to Mr Smith’s claims that he was never involved in the campaign to Save Clifton from the Chaffin Light/Bechtel Corporation project, Mr Bacon said the attorney had contradicted himself by acknowledging his involvement in an earlier affidavit on April 3, 2012.
Mr Bacon alleged that Mr Smith himself had announced in 1999 that the Clifton National Park Trust had been able to raise over $1 million to buy and develop a national park, with that funding coming from his Moore Charitable Foundation.
The hedge fund billionaire added that he also made an offer to the Government in summer 2000 to pay $15 million to purchase the area from its then-owners, the late Nancy Oakes estate, and create a national park.
Chaffin/Bechtel had been seeking to develop 600 luxury homes, a marina, golf course, canals, hotel, restaurants, tennis courts and recreational centre at the site that is now the Clifton Heritage Park.
Mr Bacon, meanwhile, described the Save the Bays coalition as being comprised of “stellar men and women”, and that it had a wide range of objectives.
Apart from oil spills at Clifton that threatened the marine environment, as well as the $76 million dive industry and eco-tourism market, Mr Bacon said Save the Bays was also focusing on Bimini.
“The Coalition’s concern is that the spawning sanctuary may be destroyed for the sake of developing a golf course, and that the findings of the hotel and casino developer’s environmental impact assessment have not been made public,” Mr Bacon said of Bimini.