By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Staff Reporter
ABACO residents have successfully submitted an application to have the permit for the construction of a new dock revoked.
The formal petition against the dock, which could be the first on Treasure Cay beach, is the latest in a standoff against unsanctioned dredging by developers of a proposed Treasure Cay hotel and fishing lodge.
Chief Councillor for North Abaco Gary Smith said: “Right now (yesterday) they’re still dredging, the order hasn’t been issued as far as we know, we don’t know why. The residents have now filed a petition against the dock, they are hoping to overturn that permit.”
“When it comes to grievance,” said Mr Smith, “this wasn’t done properly, (developers) were supposed to post that they applied for the dock. The residents have a right to come and appeal to us. Then, if we revoke the licence the developer can go and appeal to the minister or to the Supreme Court.”
Mr Smith explained that residents had a 15-day window to appeal the decision to grant the permit, after it was publicly posted.
Last week, Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle confirmed that a cease and desist order had been issued to the Sand Bar Club and Spa after it was discovered that developers had started dredging without the required approvals from the BEST Commission.
Lashing out at public criticism from the Bahamas National Trust, local government, and residents over the premature start, North Abaco MP Renardo Curry blasted the BEST Commission during his contribution in parliament last week.
Defending the development, Mr Curry said the environmental agency dragged its feet in granting approvals for investors, adding that opposition to ongoing dredging in a creek near the entrance of Treasure Cay was politically motivated.
Mr Curry said that developers have been waiting on a response to their environmental management plan for five months, adding that it was costing developers up to $10,000 a day to halt the project.
However, it was confirmed that dredging work has continued at the site.
According to sources, the local government council was scheduled to meet to review the application last night; however, the administrator was called away to an emergency meeting with the North Abaco MP.
Neither Mr Curry nor the developer has returned calls placed for comment on the matter. The BEST Commission has also not responded to enquiries about the environmental management plan.
According to a letter from the Bahamas Investment Authority, dated May 27, the Sand Bar Club was granted approval by the National Economic Council to develop a two-storey 12-suite hotel with related facilities on the eastern beach front; and to receive concessions pursuant to the Hotels Encouragement Act.
It continued: “Approved the application by the Sand Bar Club and Spa Ltd to develop a Fishing Lodge with a mini pier; a 4-slip dock; picnic area; two tennis courts; two car parks; green areas; a yoga hut; nature trails and exercise tract on the western portion of the privately owned 9.2 acre property, subject to the submission of an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) to the Ministry of the Environment and the BEST Commission, approval by the BEST Commission for dredging and approval of the license relative to land reclamation by the Prime Minister.”