Approval delays cost ex-Olympic swimmer


Tribune Business Reporter


Planning authorities yesterday informed a former Olympic swimmer that there are no legal restrictions that can block the proposed expansion of his Rose Island beach day excursion.

Christopher Vythoulkas, developer of the Piggly Wiggly Bar & Grill, was told by the Subdivision and Development Appeals Board (SDAB) that he faces no such obstacles despite opposition from some of his neighbours. Rose Island was zoned for commercial development and, despite the presence of residential homes, there are no zoning or other barriers to his plans.

Larry Treco, president of CGT Contractors & Developers, whose property is next door to Mr Vythoulkas’, said he does not want a bar and grill next door because of the crowds it would attract.

The Board asked if he would be satisfied with restrictions on Piggly Wiggly's operations, and assurances that these would be observed. Mr Treco gave no objection aside from cautioning that restrictions are often disregarded and end up being useless in trying to control people's behaviour.

Mr Vythoulkas then named several other beach bar and grills on Rose Island that were allowed to develop over the years, and said: “Mr Treco never had objection to any of them.” He alleged that there are bar-type operations on Mr Treco’s property, to which Mr Treco agreed but said that it was for private use and not commercial or open to the general public.

Mr Vythoulkas said his venture is for private charters only, which may only have up to 30 guests maximum. He added that he has lost business over the past year due to the delay in obtaining planning approval and Mr Treco’s objections, causing him to lose contracts with Rosewood for excursion events.

The former swimmer, who represented The Bahamas in the summer games in Athens in 2004, said two other bar and grill operations have opened up on Rose Island over the past 16 months replicating what he is seeking to do with Piggly Wiggly.

Mr Treco acknowledged this, and he and another resident of Rose Island, Greg Tremblay, said they have no interest in any excursion or bar and grill on Rose Island except for the fact that the latter allows a family member to use his property to host events from time to time. A further hearing is scheduled for February 2.

In his January 23, 2023, letter to the Town Planning Committee outlining the project, Mr Vythoulkas said the venue would not be used to host "concerts, events or loud obnoxious parties". Disclosing that he has all other necessary approvals, including those relating to food and health and sanitation, he added that he was merely expanding the services available at a beach location to where he already brings cruise passenger clients.

Disclosing that Piggly Wiggly Beach Bar & Grill will be located on Rose Island's lots 23 and 24, he added that one of these land parcels was already owned by his family while a lease agreement has already been executed for the other. "As per the conveyance, there are no restrictive covenants or conditions and there are currently four existing beach bars with food and beverage operations on Rose Island," Mr Vythoulkas wrote.

"Piggly Wiggly Beach Bar & Grill will operate to serve food and beverages to guests of our existing private charter boat business. Our charter boat business operates two scheduled daily tours where we collect our booked guests from the cruise ships. Each charter group enjoys a brief tour of Nassau and Paradise Island before venturing to Rose Island to sightsee and enjoy the beach.

"As we do currently stop at lot number 23 Rose Island for our beach time/swim tour of each tour, we now wish to simply prepare and serve our guests a grilled/BBQ lunch and beverages before returning them to port. There are existing structures on the property which were built in 1986 and are well maintained. We have obtained approvals from the police, sanitation and food and health for the site, handling, preparation and sale of food and beverages.

"At no time will Piggly Wiggly Beach Bar & Grill be an operation open to the general public, and we will not be hosting concerts, events and loud, obnoxious parties. Specifically, relaxation and the beauty of The Bahamas is the focal point of our charter/excursion experience."

Mr Vythoulkas said the operator also plans to partner with the Bahamas Reef Environmental Educational Foundation (BREEF), Bahamas Air and Sea Rescue, the Bahamas National Trust and the Bahamas Meteorological Department, with the the latter placing a weather station and video cameras at the site to help monitor weather conditions for private and small vessels.


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