On Thursday, March 7, about 150 people filled the Community Center in Hope Town to hear presentations on both the Sea Spray Resort redevelopment and the proposed Elbow Cay Club development.
The meeting was moderated by the Hope Town District Council, with Chief Councillor Jeremy Sweeting chairing the open forum.
The evening began with a presentation by Richard King of Sea Spray Resort. Currently, a public right of way divides the resort’s properties and the resort is seeking to redevelop the property, building newer vacation rental homes.
In doing this, they wish to relocate the public right of way on the end of their property as opposed to the middle of the property.
This was presented to the District Council last year, and the Council deferred the request to the relevant authorities, the Department of Physical Planning and the Bahamas Investment Authority. These departments in turn have asked for public feedback at a town meeting.
Other than a neighboring property owner, no one present seemed to take issue with Sea Spray Resort’s request.
The matter it appeared that most people were eager to hear about was the Elbow Cay Club proposal. Matt Winslow, the principle developer for the Elbow Cay Club, made a presentation to the District Council on December 11, 2018 seeking an approval in principle, but the Council deferred a decision until the proposal was presented at a town meeting.
The proposed development includes the construction of 17 hotel bungalow units, six short term vacation homes, 26 three, and five-bedroom homes, and a 45-slip marina. Other amenities included a cinema, casual bar and restaurant, fine dining restaurant, fitness center, pickleball court, tennis court and spa.
According to a report published by the Hope Town District Council, there were 19 persons who addressed the town meeting on the Elbow Cay Club proposal, and nearly 75% of those speaking were foreign home owners.
Only five of the 19 person who addressed the meeting were Bahamian citizens. It was noted that the Council welcomed the concerns of all residents but that the views of Bahamian citizens took utmost priority.
Concerns raised about the proposal were density, size of the marina and environmental impact, housing, boat traffic, strain on utilities, waste management, employee parking both on the island and in Marsh Harbour.
One Bahamian citizen urged the developers to use local contractors and to keep the area from becoming a gated community.
Another Bahamian citizen pointed out that with the issue of density, the development’s proposed land use would be below the approved subdivision allowance.
The District Council further noted in its released report that they noticed that there were approximately 40 Bahamians present out of the 150 attendees, with most observing and not commenting.
The Council indicated it was their resolve to reach out to Bahamian citizens for their consensus regarding the Elbow Cay Club proposal, and the wishes of the locals would play a huge factor in the decision-making process for the Hope Town District Council.
The District Council met with the developers of the Elbow Cay Club in a workshop session on Saturday, March 9 to discuss the town meeting and the concerns of the Council. This meeting intends to be the first in a series of workshop meetings with the developers.
The District Council confirms that they are presently continuing to seek the opinions and views of Bahamian citizens, especially those who made a point to attend the town meeting but were not vocal, on the way forward.