By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Nygard Cay’s near-doubling in size has resulted from development activity that frequently lacked the proper building permits, with structures not built “to normal coastal construction standards”.
Confirmation of what many had long suspected is contained in an April 30, 2013, report from consultants hired by the Christie administration, who recommended that a ‘cease and desist’ order should be among the options used to halt unpermitted, unregulated development by Peter Nygard.
The report, produced by Coastal Systems International, which is also the engineering consultant for the Resorts World Bimini project, also urged the Government to tackle the issue created by Mr Nygard’s reclamation of seabed Crown Land.
This has resulted in the expansion of Nygard Cay from its initial 3.25 acres to 6.1 acres today, and Coastal Systems says the Government needs to determine whether Crown Land was created by “man-made activities” prior to deciding whether to enter into a lease/sale arrangement with Mr Nygard.
Referring to the Canadian multi-millionaire’s original purchase of the then-Simms Point, Coastal Systems said: “It appears that certain shoreline improvements have been conducted on Nyg�rd Cay since 1984 that have resulted in the expansion of the property by as much as 2.85 acres.
“Certain improvements were conducted without proper building permits and do not appear to have been built to normal coastal construction standards.”
The report, sent to Creswell Sturrup, permanent secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, said unregulated development at Nygard Cay dated back almost two-decades to the mid-1990s.
It listed a breakwater along Nygard Cay’s northern shore; a groin at its southeastern tip; and construction of a solid barrier at the entrance to the boat basin, together with a ‘pocket beach’, as examples of development activities that expanded Mr Nygard’s landholdings despite lacking the proper permits.
“Based on the site observations and a review of available historical documents, these activities do not appear to have been permitted,” Coastal Systems said.
“The area along the south side of the project appears to have increased by 2.2 acres. Similarly, with the construction of the breakwater along the northern shoreline and the associated enclosure of a lagoon area, the property is considered to have been expanded on the northern side to the outer perimeter of the breakwater by 0.65 acres.
“Considering the above improvements, the total area of the Nyg�rd Cay property has arguably been enlarged by approximately 2.85 acres since 1984, resulting in a total area of the Cay of approximately 6.1 acres.”
Coastal Systems’ findings, and other documents seen by Tribune Business, raise major questions about why the Government and its regulatory agencies have failed fore more than two decades to take action against Mr Nygard and halt his development activities, despite having full knowledge of them and that he lacked the necessary permits and approvals.
The Christie administration has now been advised to determine whether Mr Nygard’s expansion and construction activities can be permitted ‘after the fact’, once the necessary work to support such approvals has been completed.
“It is recommended that Government take action to bring into compliance the shoreline improvements that were constructed on Nyg�rd Cay without proper permits,” Coastal Systems told Tribune Business.
“If a similar project could be permitted today under existing Government regulations, then Government should direct the owner to submit the appropriate engineering and environmental support needed to justify issuance of (after-the-fact) permits for the project.
“Any improvements to the structures to bring them into compliance with normal coastal construction methods must be reviewed and approved by Government, and implemented by the owner. Environmental impacts must be identified and mitigated, permit fees paid, and other fees for the lease or use of Crown Lands must be paid.”
To tackle Mr Nygard’s unregulated development activities, Coastal Systems recommended that a “cease and desist order should be issued and enforced” for any coastal works going forward.
It added: “Full engineering design drawings and reports should be prepared to repair/replace the existing coastal structures at the project site.
“A full review by all relevant Government agencies should be completed, and the proper permits should be obtained in accordance with existing procedures.”
And Coastal Systems further advised: ”Determination should be made how to define additional Crown Lands created by natural and man-made activities, and whether to enter into a Crown Lands lease/ownership agreement.
“A Mitigation Plan should be developed to address impacts to natural resources. This plan may include, but is not limited to, in-kind mitigation to fill dredge holes and repair damaged seagrass beds at the project site and elsewhere in Clifton Bay, or out-of-kind mitigation such as the development of aquatic parks, mangrove and reef restoration, or improvement of other public beach facilities around Clifton Bay.”