WEST ENDERS UNHAPPY
WITH SMUGGLERS COVE
By Mellica McPherson
The developers of the proposed
high end property that will be known as “Villa Paradiso at Smugglers Cove” got
an earful on 24 January, during a forum that was held at the West End Community
Centre to discuss the project.
At one of the most well attended
public hearing government ever held, a number of West End residents did not
hesitate to relay to Government officials and the developers of the proposed
Smugglers Cove project the concerns that they had about the plans that were
announced for the area.
The evening started with
presentations from Harold Lynn, the Director of Villa Paradiso Tortola Ltd, who
announced that the company plans to invest $40M-$50M in the project.
Mr. Lynn told the audience that
the Corporation’s plan is to develop a very high end property. Furthermore the
company has developed a number of high end properties over the years in Europe,
London and Nevis. He stated that the proposed resort for Smugglers Cove will
include villas, suites, a spa, swimming pools and a gift shop.
Villa Paradiso is expected to be
almost identical to Villa Paradiso in Nevis, especially the villas. Lynn said
that the property was expected to be a low density, very high end property,
which calls for very little or no impact on the environment. The property is
expected to take four years to complete. He added that there will be no high
rise buildings and no condominiums.
According to Lynn this proposed
project will provide a number of benefits for the Territory such as business
opportunities for local entrepreneurs. He spoke about the environmental
assessment study that was undertaken to evaluate the feasibility of the project.
However, before he disclosed some of the findings he stated that: “The people we
hired to do the environmental study are independent people who do not work for
us. The study was available for weeks at various venues around the island.”
He quoted some of the findings
of Mr. Clive Petrovic, the Director of E Concerns Ltd., which was one of the
agencies that were hired to carry out various assessments. In his report
Petrovic said that: “The project is not likely to produce substantial or
unacceptable environmental consequences.” “The assessment of impacts can be
analyzed by habitats or by potential risks involved, and that no impacts were
identified that would be cause to reject the project.”
Excerpts from the Social
Assessment that was done by Ivor Jackson and Associates were included in the
presentation. In the report the firm named some beneficial impacts that would be
derived from this project; such as: “Higher revenue to Government from stamp
duties or from any property sale within the resort, from property taxes and
taxes on room sales.” However, Jackson and Associates also mentioned a negative
social issue — the possibility that “high property values might make affordable
housing difficult for lower income earners in the resort areas.”
Nevertheless West Enders were
anything but impressed with the presentation. In fact the first resident who
gave testimony at the hearing set the tone for the rest of the night. She
announced: “I have seen the proposal and I strongly object.”
The second speaker was a Belmont
property owner. He declared that “this proposal which claims to be very low
density, turns out to be five times the density of Long Bay Beach Resort.” The
Belmont man went on to say that he didn’t think that the Smugglers Cove beach
would be able to accommodate the amount of people that will go there as a result
of the property. He was also the first in a number of residents to point out
that the dock that the developers plan to build will be very hazardous and
obtrusive visually. “I feel that this project should be scaled back to half of
its current density.” “Since the dock is dangerous, unsightly and of very little
use to the general public, it should be scrapped.”
Another West End man said that
he feels that the people should have been notified earlier: “We are under
semi-dictatorship in this country, when things are already planned that’s when
the people know about it.” This resident also said that he did not think that
the location for the dock was appropriate: “I know where that dock will be
located, and putting it there is very dangerous.”
One other resident said that she
was appalled that there were no discussions with immediate neighbours about the
Throughout the evening more and
more residents pointed out that they did not feel that the proposed site for the
dock was a good one Another native BV Islander was so displeased about the
entire project that he used a few profanities to convey himself, and had to be
rebuked by the Chairman of the Hearing Mr. Edmund Maduro, and Chief Planning
Officer, Mr. Louis Potter who was one of the presenters.
At the end of the hearing the
developer addressed the issues that were raised by residents, and in the case of
the dock he invited Laurens Blok the designer to address those comments. Mr.
Blok confirmed that the area for the proposed dock is indeed rough, but
nevertheless he said that a boat can dock in, provided that the boat is high. He
also stated that the proposal is more of a platform rather than a dock.
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