Minister backs constituents on propane plant opposition


Tribune Business Reporter


A Cabinet minister yesterday joined Baillou Hills Estates residents in voicing opposition to the development of a $1.3m “state-of-the-art” propane gas plant off Tonique Williams Highway.

Mario Bowleg, minister for youth, sports and culture, backed his Garden Hills constituents in their appeal against the Town Planning Committee approvals granted to Nassau Propane for its proposed relocation.

Speaking to Tribune Business at the preliminary hearing before the Planning and Subdivisions Appeals Board, he said he expects the original approvals to be overturned based on the outcry from Baillou Hills Estates subdivision residents.

“There’s rules and regulations that govern these communities, and we just hope that the rules and regulations that govern prevail,” Mr Bowleg said. “I mean, it’s unfortunate that a propane company would want to bring that type of organiaation or business within the community of what I call a lot of retirees.

“That community itself is based on a lot of persons who built their homes to retire and rest well as they go towards their twilight years, and so to have something like that try to move into a community like Baillou Hills Estates, which has been around for a very long time, is just very unfortunate.”

Shaherah Adderley, president of the Baillou Hill Estates Homeowners Association, said the group has retained Romauld Ferreira, former minister of the environment under the Minnis administration, to represent the body at the full appeal hearing which is scheduled for January 23, 2024.

The Homeowners Association will have until December 12 to collate and present all the reasons for their objections to the Appeals Board. Residents also complained that Nassau Propane has begun to clear land and lay foundations for its new facilities despite an active appeals process. They added that the location also has an approval for a car wash along with the propane facility.

Warren Davis, Nassau Propane’s general manager, told the Appeals Board that the appeal should be dismissed - and the company’s project allowed to move forward - as those raising objections have no standing.

“The purpose of my attendance here today is to make a request that the application be dismissed. I would have gone ahead and sent in a letter addressed to your attention that, clearly the justification or the reasons that the HOA (Home Owners Association) would have provided as a grounds for an appeal, those are not factual. So really, I’m here today to request that this matter be dismissed,” he said.

Mr Davis, who confirmed that Nassau Propane owns the entire property where the car wash and propane plant would be located, said the company is just clearing the land. He confirmed that the propane pant will be located adjacent to the car wash.

The Appeals Board, in declining to dismiss the appeal, informed Mr Davis that despite him being the owner of the land he would have to separate the two entities and clearly identify which is the car wash and which is the propane plant.

Mr Davis, in a previous interview with this newspaper, said that relocating to the new site will enable the company to upgrade its facilities, expand its services and hire more staff. “The primary reason is that the facility that we propose to build will be a state-of-the-art plant. We’ve been at the current location for 23 years and never had any issues, but it’s time to go ahead and upgrade the facility,” he added.

“Especially with Nassau Propane, and a plant like Nassau Propane, it’s very important to continue to upgrade your facility. Our intent is to move so that we can offer customers, and Nassau at large, much better service. That’s why we selected this particular location. There are no homes there and we have several acres of encumbered land. We felt it was a great location.”

Mr Davis argued that the chosen site is superior to the Gladstone Road area, where many of Nassau Propane’s rivals are based, because their locations are becoming increasingly surrounded by residential housing developments.

He said the new Nassau Propane plant will be designed to US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, and international designers who have worked on “much larger plants” - including in Texas - have been hired to put the facility together. The move would result in Nassau Propane’s workforce expanding from eight persons to 12.

Documents filed with the Department of Physical Planning show that Nassau Propane had initially intended to move just one block to the corner of Bozine Road and Tonique Williams Highway, but switched its focus to the current site at Chapel Drive following objections from the planning authorities.

The Town Planning Committee seemingly gave the new location the go-ahead even though Department of Physical Planning officials raised questions about the propane plant’s “compatibility with its neighbours”.

Jehan Wallace, the Department’s chief physical planner, in a June 2023 paper for the Town Planning Committee, said a church, school and other commercial businesses are located nearby while a “multi-family housing structure is 120 feet to the west” of Nassau Propane’s proposed boundary.

“The applicant is seeking planning approval to relocate Nassau Propane to a 22,500 square foot site located on Chapel Drive off the Tonique Williams Highway. The site is currently vacant,” Ms Wallace wrote. “The company is currently located a half-a-mile west of the proposed location behind Ron’s Auto. However, they need to relocate and wish to stay in the same location [area] they have serviced for the past 22 years.

“The applicant hopes to enter into a long-term lease agreement with the owner of the proposed location for a space to create the same scope of their existing business.” However, she noted the proximity of Nassau Propane’s proposed new site to other ventures in the area.

“Uses in the area include a church, school and other commercial business,” Ms Wallace said. “There is one multi-family housing structure 120 feet to the west of the proposed western boundary of the site. Even though the use currently exists in the area, it is the only industrial use and the Department has concerns about the compatibility of the use to its new neighbours.”


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