EXPANSION PLANS: The initial footprint, on the left, and the land the planned development covers now.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ONE hundred home and business owners are lined up to fight a multi-million-dollar development on Harbour Island, a chief critic of the project claimed yesterday.
Developer Michael Wiener has secured an approval-in-principle to expand the size of his Briland Residences & Marina project by five times, angering residents who say they are concerned about impact the project will have on the environment and the culture of the island.
The critic, Ben Simmons, said yesterday: “There is a group of 100 house owners and business owners that have hired legal representation and also have hired a number of experts to analyse environmental impacts given that current documentation provides nothing but more questions.”
For his part, Mr Wiener said in an interview yesterday that support for the project among locals has been strong.
“We were encouraged to just continue to release additional information to the public so that the misinformation that is circulating, we can provide clarity to it,” he said.
The project’s heads of agreement has not been released to the public.
“We have a fully executed heads of agreement,” Mr Wiener said. “I was made aware only recently that it has not been presented to the floor of Parliament but it is fully executed. We have a fully approved environmental impact assessment and we have an environment management plan in place. I’ve spent the last five days on the island and I’d say among local Bahamians the support for the project is definitely overwhelming.”
The project was originally slated to be a $45 million investment involving 5.6 acres of land and a marina. The developer wants to expand the project into an exclusive 27-acre waterfront community with 83 residences but has not received official approval yet.
“We had a meeting with central government on Friday,” Mr Wiener said. “We were informed that an EIA is not necessary for the subdivision. The EIA would be required in pursuit of the over-water bungalow and/or the canal.”
The environmental impacts of the bungalows and canal are being studied, he said, with the results expected soon.
The heads of agreement calls for the developer to ensure the workforce for the project is 70 percent Bahamian, the developer said.
He added: “We would like for the workforce to be 100 percent Bahamian. We committed to the government that it would be 70 percent Bahamian. The extent that we could exceed that number we will.”
David Hayes, construction manager for the project, said 100 people will be hired when the project is completed.
A $3 million-dollar contract will soon be awarded to a Bahamian company to begin constructing three marina buildings, officials said.
“The first phase of the buildings work is the marina buildings, three buildings that reside on top of the arrival structure or the dock and those three buildings are the Harbour master’s office, the arrival area and the reception area,” Mr Hayes said. “Those bids have been put out to Harbour Island’s construction community. We invited a total of nine bidders. To date we’ve received four responses and those bids will be awarded and with work expected to start on June the 1st and that work will take approximately seven months so we have the marina itself plus the marina building all being complete by the end of this calendar year.”
He added: “On the marina building itself, we’re looking at approximately 40 employees. On the marina itself, we’re looking for approximately another 50 employees. That would be the people working with our current marina contractor Bahamas Marine Construction company plus other trades that will be working on the docks. The construction process which is not just these three small buildings and marina but once you go upwards is 83 residential units, bar and restaurant, a lighthouse which is going to be an iconic feature for the island and other support facility. All that work, 100 percent will be bid only to Bahamian contractors.”