I have received several questions regarding beach access and since the answers are related, I am including all three queries here:
1. I would like to know, and I think the public should know also, who has power and authority to change our public beach access?
2. Is it legal for CPA to give Dart permission to move two 6ft public beach access and make one 12ft beach access? I think if it’s illegal that it has set a bad precedent for the islands and the people in the future because CPA would have to do it for every other developer, and what CPA does cannot be enforced into law. We have to remember that CPA cannot write laws.
3. With the closure of Beach Suites, the problem of beach access became more prominent for many residents of SMB areas. With stipulation of the law which says that for every 200ft there should be at least 6ft of public beach access way, how did it happen that between Lacovia and Coral Stone Club there is not a single public beach access? This is a 3,000ft distance — normally you would expect at least six to eight beach access ways for such a distance. What can be done about that based on Cayman laws? Is there any way to check if any landowners in that range broke the law at some point by removing public beach access?
Auntie’s answer: For the first question, the Central Planning Authority (CPA) is the relevant government entity. A Department of Planning official explained that under Section 17 of the Development and Planning Law (2017 revision) the CPA can modify a grant of planning permission to allow relocation of a “public right of way to the sea”, which is required under Regulations 15(6) and 32 of the Development and Planning Regulations (2017 Revision).
As for the query about Dart, under that same Section 17 (Revocation and modification of planning permission), the CPA can change a grant of planning permission “inclusive of, if deemed appropriate by the authority, the consolidation of multiple six-foot public rights of way to the sea on a parcel into one location” on that parcel. So that means yes, it is legal for the CPA to grant Dart permission to consolidate two 6ft access ways into one 12ft right of way.
On the third issue concerning the 3,000ft of shore without any apparent public beach access, the Planning official said, “Shoreline frontage is measured on a parcel basis. As such, the CPA can only apply the provisions of Regulation 15(6) or 32 in instances where the shoreline frontage of the parcel at the time of a grant of planning permission, is 200ft or more.”
I interpret that explanation to mean that if a development, such as a hotel or beachfront condo, was built on a parcel of land that includes less than 200ft of shoreline, it would not be required to provide a right of way to the sea. So basically, goes my thinking, it seems that any development can avoid falling under the mandate of Regulation 15(6) or 32 by simply covering only 199ft of shoreline. And if there are a bunch of properties adjacent to each other adhering to that “199ft rule”, that could lead to 3,000ft without any public access.
If anyone wants to offer a different perspective, please feel free to do so.
The laws mentioned in this column can be found on the CNS Library