CPA meets to hear controversial hotel request

Artist’s rendering of the aerial view of the proposal in the application

(CNS): The Central Planning Authority will hold an additional meeting this month just to hear the controversial proposed application for a $125 million hotel and residential complex near Crystal Harbor which has attracted huge numbers of visitors objectors.

Prisma’s application was adjourned in February due to an apparent discrepancy with the canal zone category it is proposed to fill in and to allow the planning department to prepare a detailed list of all objectors landowners who fall within the area.

The development has been reviewed for an Environmental Impact Assessment and the National Conservation Council has endorsed the DoE’s findings that although the proposed development does not require an EIA, there are environmental impacts associated with this project which will need to be dealt with. The DoE also recommended that a hotel needs assessment be conducted to determine the need for hotels in this area.

The site was cleared of mangroves over a decade ago for development that never progressed. Consequently, the current eco-risks now revolve around the filling of canals.

“The canal areas around the site have ecological value as they contain seagrass beds, benthic algae and marine species that depend on these important habitats,” the DoE said. “Direct impacts will be caused in areas where the canal is to be filled and in sections of proposed new waterways. Indirect impacts will also be caused by the excavation of materials in the landing stages and the extension of the canal as well as in the construction of the proposed wharves.

“Given the mass of boating facilities, marinas and the theoretical number of boats proposed for this small canal area, there is a risk that boating-related pollution will further exacerbate the poor quality of the water,” the DoE said in its scoping notice.

However, the controversy surrounding this project is the impact on the nearby affluent and exclusive community of Crystal Harbour, where many of the objections stem from.

The $125 million mixed-use development originally included a nine-story, 44-room hotel, 58 apartments, 20 townhouses, five duplexes, and various amenities, including a canal extension. It is described by the developers as a step in “the evolution of Crystal Harbour”. But the locals disagree.

According to the letters submitted, the scale of this proposed project is incompatible with their community and insensitive to their peaceful family neighborhood and quality of life. There are also objections to the deviations and what neighboring landowners claim are deviations from planning regulations, as well as concerns that the plans for the project are incomplete.

Meanwhile, the developers have argued that their boutique hotel will enhance the Crystal Harbor community and attract a new type of “international traveller” in line with the country’s tourism needs.

The special meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday (today) at the Compass Centre.

See details in the CDS Library.

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