‘Strong objection’ to commercial re-zoning application in western NP

‘Strong objection’ to commercial re-zoning application in western NP
Skyline Lakes entrance

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Residents of a western New Providence community are voicing “strong objection” to a re-zoning application that would allow for medium to high density commercial development in their neighbourhood.

Skyline Lakes residents detailed outlined the concerns and objections in a letter to Charles Zonicle, Director of Physical Planning, on November 9.

Residents argued the rezoning application by two property owners David Fennell and James Crombie “contradicts” the original intent of the community and the surrounding areas.

According to the application gazetted on October 12, 2019, the pair have requested the re-zoning of lots 5-10 in the Golf Course Heights Subdivision.

Residents are concerned over potential noise pollution, an increase in traffic, potential flooding as a result of the development and a possible rise in criminal activity.

The properties are located on the northern side of Prospect Ridge Road, one lot west of Prospect Ridge and are zoned for single-family residential use.

The lots combined are approximately five acres and  a single family estate currently exists on a portion of the land.

Fennell and Crombie propose to re-zone the single-family lots to commercial use that may include special events, restaurant/bar and or boutique hotel developments as well as medium to high density multi-family residential developments.

The letter was sent by the Skyline Lakes (Phase 1) Management Committee, on behalf of the residents of Skyline Lakes (Phase 1) Subdivision.

“We respectfully ask for no zoning change on these parcels not because we are anti-growth but because we are enthusiastic supporters of smart, planned urban development,” the letter read.

The letter further noted that the lots in question are zoned specifically for multi-family construction with the Zoning Act restricting commercial activity and only permitting low density residential development.

“Any change of this amounts to a material change and further an Environmental Impact Statement is necessary given that the proposed development is likely to give rise to significant effects on the environment by virtue of its nature, size and location and that is of a nature that may have potentially adverse environmental effects,” the letter stated.

Further, the residents have expressed concern that the development will involve a major change to the traffic (volume and nature) in local streets and impacts residential amenity by substantially changing residents’ ability to access/exit their properties.

They also noted that there will be an increase of carbon emissions and noise pollution.

“The loss of the flora in the area which also aid as a buffer for noise pollution will be lost,” the letter continued.

“This will have a significant impact on residential noise volumes affecting the adjacent properties and will negatively impact offsite residential amenity. The installation and use of air conditioning equipment will also result in unacceptable noise levels from the proposed development as currently laid out in the application.

“The tranquility of the neighbourhood is already interrupted by events held at Clubs and Entertainment Centers that are mile(s) away from our tranquil residential area,” the letter stated.

The residents also contend that allowing the proposed development to go ahead would set a precedence for similar developments in the area.

“The precedence set by Baha Mar and Breezes only strengthens the resolve that promises are just that, promises and additional commercial owners will also make empty promises. There is very little comfort of anything being guaranteed.,” the letter stated.

It continued: “Baha Mar promised that their Golf Course would not cause any negative consequences to the Skyline Lakes (Phase 1) residents. They were to erect a 30-40 foot net to ensure that potentially deadly stray golf balls would not become missiles to boarder resident properties; and erection of a noise reduction wall to muzzle traffic noise.

“Neither has taken place. The current process of accountability in said developmental agreements in inadequate.  We wish to point out/highlight that Baha Mar and Breezes, as well as those developments used as comparable developments are all located on the Cable Beach shoreline and not on the interior where residential areas would be comprised.

“By agreeing to permit further commercial development will set a negative precedent and will encourage the development of other types of businesses such as motels, stores and convenience stores which might be required due to the increased traffic of vehicles and persons.”

Fennell and Crombie are represented by law firm Graham Thompson.

The firm sent its own letter to the Chairman of the Town Planning Committee, a copy of which was obtained by Eyewitness News Online.

Graham Thompson noted high-end properties in the area have become extremely difficult to sell as they are limited in use to single family residences, leading to a stagnation of the real estate market in the area.

The firm further suggested the granting of more varied zoning and use of the properties, could incentivize their refurbishment and upkeep for sale and redevelopment.

Apart from the economic benefits relaxing the restrictions could unlock, the firm also underscored no land use plan has been adopted by the Town Planning Committee for New Providence.

Grant Thompson stated the present zoning of the properties area “appears to be of dubious effect”.

A public meeting will be held at 7pm in the Department of Physical Planning’s Hearing Room over the proposed development on November 18.