The North Abaco Town Planning Board held a special meeting to discuss plans before them from Treasure Sands Club and to hear objections from Abaco Defenders on the proposed plans.
Several members of Abaco Defenders, along with their Attorney, Carey Leonard, and consultant, former Senator Michael Pintard, attended the meeting seeking facts.
Mr. Pintard said that the Abaco Defenders were formed because of what they believed to be unauthorized construction going on in Treasure Cay and to address the fact that land of historical significance is being damaged.
He said “what we are trying to do now, in order for the group to formulate a final position, we simply need some background information, what we are unaware of is exactly what is the nature of the development at the site.”
He said further that information is a prerequisite to any kind of consultation, and “according to the town planning and subdivisions act, had an application been made, one of the requirements of the act is that a public consultation take place. We have not met anyone in North Abaco yet that has attended such a meeting.”
“We’ve not seen any site plans; we’ve not seen the application; we do not have a clear understanding of anything that has been applied for,” he said.
Chairman of the Town Planning Board Kenneth Major Jr. said “We see nothing wrong with the plans before the board, but having a complaint or rather a letter expressing objection is why we are here today.”
He added that “Your group should have been consulted before he bought the property, but if he owns the property and it’s at the point he has an application here; we’re just waiting to hear your side.”
Mr. Pintard said that members of the Abaco Defenders have clearly indicated in the public domain that there are items of historical significance that have been verified by an archeologist and the law requires that the owner takes certain steps, and he said this so far hasn’t been done.
North Abaco Administrator, Neil Campbell asked that if Treasure Sands is building at a specific location do they have proof that there are historical artifacts at the proposed site.
Carey Leonard, Attorney for Abaco Defenders, responded that they cannot say with certainty until they know where the building is going, and that this is the reason they are at the meeting; to find out what is being proposed.
Mr. Campbell reiterated that if there are artifacts where Treasure Sands wants to build they would certainly call in the relevant agency; however, he said “if we have no proof, how can we stop him?”
Mr. Pintard questioned what the requirements are to be followed by law when plans for a development are before the board. According to law when a development is being built in a community it is required that the stakeholders are consulted with by way of a mandatory public meeting.
Mr. Campbell responded that there is no development before the Town Planning Board; that they are viewing plans for a storage shed and a gazebo. Mr. Major added that there were no plans for a development presented to the board.
Mr. Pintard said “In light of the fact that he has acted inappropriately on other aspects of that property we believe something is untoward even in terms of what is before this board.” He added that Town Planning cannot make a decision without considering the entire scope of works and the overarching plans.
Mr. Leonard presented a survey that shows the range of property that encompasses where artifacts have been found.
Mr. Pintard said we are here to ascertain facts from the owner and from town planning so that we can advise our clients and I believe any decision you make at this point would be premature and it is inappropriate according to the law because you have had no public consultation.
Mr. Major noted that if what was said about the artifacts was indeed true that it had implications for the public beach and the Anglican and Catholic Churches which may also be on that stretch of land.
Mr. Major also noted again that the only thing the board has in front of them are plans for a storage shed and a gazebo and that he knows nothing of the “master plan” Mr. Pintard referred to. He added that the plans before them had already been approved by the Department of Environmental Health and the Ministry of Works.
Managing Partner for Treasure Sands, Tim Blakely, said he is confused about the controversy as he is simply applying for “three wooden structures” and they are talking about dredging and everything else which has been dealt with through the Foreign Investment Board (FIB). “We’re just here to seek permission from these gentlemen to build three wooden structures on land that’s been owned for thirty years – not reclaimed land,” he said. “I’m just baffled as to what the problem is.”
Mr. Leonard stated that the FIB merely gives approval in principal subject to all the necessary permits being approved.
Mr. Pintard asked when they will hold a public consultation meeting on the development. Mr. Campbell said there is no development before the board. Mr. Pintard said that, then to what end are the buildings before them being built.
Mr. Pintard added that the developer himself stated in several articles in national newspapers that he is building a development. He said that each time they approve a building without seeking consultation for the broader project they are making an error in law.
He said he is simply asking the board to pause and look at what the law says; not his opinion. The law requires a public hearing.