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Objection to Negril/Green Island building order

Monday, February 16, 2015

CHAIRMAN of Couples Resorts Lee Issa has raised objections to the new Development Order which is expected to be signed soon for the Negril/Green Island region of Westmoreland and Hanover.

In an open letter to Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill, Issa said that Negril developers do not want to have the area into a “Cancun-type resort destination”.

“There are already too many of those around the world,” the Couples Resorts chairman told the minister, who announced recently that he will soon be signing the new Development Order, as outlined in Section 7 of the Town and Country Planning Act.

Said Issa: “After digesting the proposed increased height restriction from three to four floors and the reduced set back from 150 feet to 100 feet, I have come to the conclusion, that this would be a retrograde step for Negril and its environment. I, therefore, object to the proposed Development Order.

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“Firstly, this translates to increasing the rooms per acre by one-third, which will put strain on our current water and sewerage services. Secondly, reducing the set backs could lead to further beach erosion.

“While I and all of us here in the Negril community welcome investments from wherever it comes from, we are not prepared to sacrifice Negril’s character or it's survival by further destruction of our already fragile eco-system. This is the time to correct the environmental ills of the past not to exacerbate them by passing the new building ordinance.

“Negril, as a resort destination, has led Jamaica in being the most desired place for tourists to visit, not only because of the seven mile beach, but because of it’s low density, low rise appeal, which has served us well for the past 40 years. Why change this now?

“Investors must be enlightened to appreciate this. Lower room density will attract higher rates and a good return on their investment. We do not want to turn Negril into a Cancun-type resort destination. There are already too many of those around the world.

“When you are out sailing in this natural bay and you look back at the coastline, one sees the architecture and landscape blending harmoniously together. Negril is a unique and naturally beautiful place.  Let’s keep it that way”.

According to the Jamaica Information Service, Pickersgill told stakeholders at a consultation at the Negril Community Centre on Friday, January 30, that, under the new order, developers will be allowed to construct commercial buildings of up to four floors tall.

“The process was very involved and started with consultations led by the National Environment and Planning Agency, (NEPA) many years ago on behalf of the Town and Country Planning Authority,” Pickersgill stated.

“Having completed the consultations and the various stages of reviews, as the Minister responsible for planning, I propose to make a change to the allowable height of buildings in the Negril Green Island Local Planning Authority (NGIALPA) area,” he said.

“This change would move the allowable height from three to four floors. This change is considered de minimis, meaning a minor adjustment and will set the policy guideline for NGIALPA and the Hanover and Westmoreland Parish Councils on how planning applications are to be considered,” he added.       

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