By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
IN the face of mounting legal pressure and international attention, the government has been forced to extend its public consultation process on Peter Nygard’s proposed expansion plans at Simms Point/Nygard Cay for a further 21 days. In an embarrassing climbdown it has also had to admit to confusion and flaws in the process thus far.
Letters obtained by The Tribune yesterday, signed by Director of Physical Planning Michael Major and sent to Save The Bays (STB), the environmental group leading the opposition to the development, show that the consultation period has officially been extended because of the department’s failure to obtain certain information about Mr Nygard’s plans and its failure to disclose certain documents.
Concerned residents had requested the information and documents in order to make meaningful representations with respect to Mr Nygard’s applications.
Lawsuits were filed this week against the government by STB and wealthy Lyford Cay property owners, including Baha Mar Chairman Sarkis Izmirlian and retired British actor Sir Sean Connery, seeking a judicial review of the process.
On June 18, the government announced the start of the initial 21-day public consultation period that ended on Wednesday with respect to Mr Nygard’s applications for Crown land and approvals for building, dredging and other types of development in the surrounding seabed.
Mr Major noted in a letter dated July 6 that despite the start of the public consultation process, his department has not received applications from Mr Nygard with respect to certain “future buildings” in his site plan.
He said that Mr Nygard’s “set of architectural plans displayed are incomplete and insufficient to secure a building permit.”
He added: “The plans displayed represent all of the plans submitted with the application. It is customary that more plans are required by the relevant agencies as the application progresses through the approval process.”
Mr Major also said that copies of certain relevant documents cannot be given to residents and apologised for not having a study that considers the sustainability of Mr Nygard’s work electronically available for inspection.
“While it is not possible to provide copies of the documents for each request, three printed copies of each document are available to accommodate simultaneous inspections,” the letter said. “The department will continue to make available for public inspections, all of the information submitted in respect to planning applications during the consultation period.”
“We apologise for the unavailability of the electronic version of the study referenced ... and instead another relevant study was posted on the BEST Commission’s web page.”
“In light of the initial difficulties in obtaining the digital information, consideration will be given for a reasonable extension to the consultation period.”
That extension was granted in a letter dated July 9.
Earlier this week, American television personality Nancy Grace and former US Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady were among the 103 people who jointly sued the government while expressing concerns about environmental degradation and alleged unauthorised activities by Mr Nygard that they believe have already taken place in the area.
The government’s consultation exercise has been labelled a “farce” by some critics who believe that the government might try to sanction Mr Nygard’s plans as a favour for his financial support to the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) over the years.
The Tribune understands that STB will be before the Supreme Court on Monday to continue to press the case for judicial review.