Passion shrunk at Love Beach



• Developer’s project cut from seven to four storeys

• But Appeal Board does not ‘quash’ first approval

• Community hails Board for ‘hearing our voices’


Tribune Business Editor


Love Beach residents last night hailed the planning authorities for “hearing our voices” after they imposed restrictions that cut three storeys off a prominent Bahamian developer’s project.

The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board, while not overturning the “preliminary” approval granted to Jason Kinsale for his proposed Passion Point development, has placed “an additional restriction” on the project by limiting its height to four storeys as opposed to the seven sought by the Aristo Development chief.

This effectively represents a 43 percent reduction in the height of Passion Point’s two condo buildings, and will likely translate into fewer than the 61 units targeted by Mr Kinsale, who has spearheaded developments such as Balmoral on Sandford Drive, ONE Cable Beach and Aqualina.

Mr Kinsale could not be reached for comment via phone or text message before press time last night, but Passion Point’s potential neighbours at Love Beach expressed delight that the Board has seen fit to limit the project’s height and density, arguing that it would simply have been “too much” in its original form.

Besides the height limitations, the Appeal Board also imposed the condition that Mr Kinsale provide a study on Passion Point’s underground parking given its “proximity to the shore line” on New Providence’s western coastline

This together with the height restriction, double the original conditions imposed by the Town Planning Committee that the developer must meet. Passion Point’s progress was already subject to Department of Civil Aviation approval, given its proximity to Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) and its aerial approach routes, plus the completion of a traffic impact study.

Mr Kinsale will now have to determine if the project remains economically viable, especially with the height limitations likely restricting the number of units he can sale, and if he will now appeal the Board’s decision to the Supreme Court and higher judicial system.

The Board, in its verdict on the appeal by Love Beach residents, noted that Town Planning’s “preliminary support of site plan approval” was already subject to Mr Kinsale fulfilling certain conditions. “In other words, if the conditions are not met then there will be no final approval,” it said. “Secondly, construction is not permitted absent final approval.”

The Appeal Board added that the traffic impact study for the Ministry of Works, and the requirement for Department of Civil Aviation approval, also dealt with “some of the larger concerns” voiced by Love Beach residents including the height. Sir Baltron Bethel, ex-prime minister Perry Christie’s senior policy adviser and a homeowner in the area, was named in the appeal verdict as “the first appellant”.

Arguments that the public hearing and consultation were “fatally or fundamentally flawed” were rejected by the Appeal Board, which found that Love Beach residents and other affected/interested parties had access to the necessary papers and sufficient documents were available.

While agreeing it was “likely” more papers could have been provided to the public, it added that while the process “could have been improved upon the imperfections fall just short of justifying interference”. The Appeal Board also noted that Mr Kinsale still has to obtain a Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC), and rejected arguments that Town Planning gave a “lack of reasons” for its decision.

However, the tide then turned in favour of the residents. “Notwithstanding the foregoing, what has pressed the Board is the issue of the preliminary approval appearing to be a lack of considerations in regard to the height of the condominiums in the area and also the considerations imposed by the Town Planning Committee when the lots were rezoned in 2018,” the Appeal Board said.

The rezoning, from single family to multi-family, was “in keeping with the recent.. developments” in an area that contains numerous two and three-storey condominiums. “The Board also noted that the tallest building within the area is ‘Love Beach Walk’, which has four storeys,” the ruling added.

The Appeal Board also took into account the residents concerns “over preserving the nature and character of the area”, which has evolved into a multi-family domicile. “In the circumstances, where save for the height considerations the Board does not deem it necessary to quash the approval,” it added.

However, it ruled that “for best use of time and resources for all concerned”, the way forward was to impose an extra restriction and condition on Passion Point. The original approval is to be varied such that the height of the project’s two condo buildings is limited to four storeys, as opposed to seven, with the study on underground parking also to be conducted.

Meka McWeeney, an 18-year Love Beach resident, last night told Tribune Business that while the community would have preferred Passion Point be restricted to two storeys they can live with four. “They’ve actually listened to the community and taken into consideration the original zoning in the area,” she said of the Appeal Board.

“We feel much better knowing it’s been reduced considerably. We’d ideally like for it to be just two storeys, but we’re happy about this one in that the community has been considered. The question was raised in the public meeting that the pilings involved in preparing for underground parking could impact the shoreline. That was raised in the Appeal meeting, and we’re happy that’s one of the conditions he has to meet.”

Ms McWeeney said she and other Love Beach residents will “watch” what happens with the underground parking studies, and added: “We’re hoping it remains at four-storeys without any underground parking. Maybe it can blend into the community. The height, the traffic, it just would have been too much.”

She again contrasted Passion Point’s original height, density and scale with that of a proposed development for the site immediately next door. Syven Beach and its developer, Leo Godet, received preliminary subdivision approval from the Ministry of Works earlier this year provided all the lots were zone for single-family residential use and the necessary building setbacks were complied with.

“We feel the community has been listened to and they heard us,” Ms McWeeney continued. “We just wanted Town Planning to consider the existing zoning. The community, we’re all very happy that the Appeal Board listened to us. We were all present at the original Town Planning meeting, where 90 percent of the people were against it.

“It didn’t seem like they listened. They listened to the people at Balmoral, they listened to the people at Montagu Bay. We just wanted them to listen to us. There are people who have lived here for many years, we love our community and felt our voices should be heard and considered.”

When it was pointed out that the height limitation could undermine Passion Point’s economic viability, Ms McWeeney pointed out that Syven Beach felt it can generate a sufficient return on its investment with much lower density.

“If he can’t live with four storeys, I’m sure there’s someone else who can,” she said. “If it’s not going to work for them, I’m sure there will be someone else who will gladly develop it and still get a good return on their investment.” Passion Point’s proposed location is next to the Garden of Eden.


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