Riddell's Bay Planning Application - Objection Petition

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Acting Director of Planning
Department of Planning- Government of Bermuda
Dame Lois Browne-Evans Building, 5th Floor
58 Court Street
Hamilton HM12, Bermuda

Planning Reference: S0020/19

Dear Acting Director,

Over 1800 people have signed the petition to Preserve Bermuda Recreational Property on Change.org:

https://www.change.org/p/bermuda-department-of-planning-preserve-bermuda-recreational-land-petition

The signers of this petition are objecting to the application to add 19 lots (22 lots in total), 2 right of ways, along with the adjustments stated on the attached notice sign and in the planning application. On March 13th, the applicant, Castile Holdings Ltd., objected to the Draft Bermuda Plan, (2018), to change the zoning of 59.44 acres of protected recreation properties. This objection has not been accepted and therefore the majority of the property in this application is currently zoned recreation. In accordance with the applicants “Master Plan”, 20.87 acres of this property would be rezoned from Recreation to Residential 2.

The signers of this petition agree:

This application and the proposed Master Plan for the former Riddell’s Bay Golf Course violate the Development and Planning Act, 1974 (“the Act”) and would set a bad precedent for recreation and other protected zoning. Bermuda needs to protect our limited green open space and should not allow additional residential building since the local population is declining.  

We are objecting based on following factors:

1)      The application does not comply with the zoning of the land. The application violates Development and Planning Act, 1974, the Bermuda Plan (2008) and Draft Bermuda Plan (2018), since the proposed new 19 Residential 2 lots in the applicant’s Master Plan are located on protected recreational property.

2)      The application is based on the acceptance of the applicant’s objection to the Draft Bermuda Plan (2018) and without this acceptance there is no reason to subdivide the property.

3)      Loss of open space/recreation land. The proposed change of zoning of 59.44 acres of protected recreation properties in the applicant’s Master Plan violates the objective of the Bermuda Plans (2008/2018) and specifically the language protecting recreational property:

REC (1) To allocate sufficient land throughout the Island for a variety of recreational activities

REC (2) To retain recreational lands in their open state and to protect significant natural features

4)      The proposed subdivision is premature and not in the public interest and would be detrimental to the conservation of the visual amenities of the area.

5)      Planning studies have shown that additional residential land is not required due to the decline in the local population.

6)      Negative environmental impact: While the applicant has hired environmental experts to write a long environmental impact study on what could be done in the new “Nature Preserve”, Riddell’s already is considered one of the largest environmentally protected areas in Bermuda with significant areas of Woodland Reserve, Coastal Reserve, Nature Reserve and Recreation zoning. Those of us who have signed this petition recognize that the natural habitat in Riddell’s Bay is not found in other areas of Bermuda. We also recognize that changing 20.87 acres of this property to residential 2 zoning will permanently damage the sensitive eco system.

7)      Coastal reserve impact: The proposed 7 western lots are located on an environmentally sensitive area which includes coastal reserve zoning and a small bay with mangroves, sea turtles and other protected sea life. Building homes on this area will have a major impact on the herons, longtails, bluebirds, lizards and other endemic species that live in this area.

8)      Unknown environmental impact of future residential development. The applicant is not a developer and plans to sell the rezoned lots. Therefore, they have no control over what the new owners build on their properties. As such the applicant’s Master Plan environmental impact study cannot assess what impact this overall proposal will have on the environment.

9)      Lack of clarity about the future management/potential for further development of the open space areas. It is unclear from the Master Plan who will pay to maintain “Riddell’s Bay Gardens and Nature Reserve” once the applicant has sold the residential lots. While the applicant states “to allow for development of new residential lots that will help finance long term maintenance of the nature reserve and gardens”, there are no details on how they intend to pay for the maintenance of remaining 66 acres of property. A survey of the residents indicates that they do not intend and are not obligated to pay for maintenance that had previously been paid by the golf club.

10)   The granting of permission for the proposed lots under the current zoning or the change of zoning in the 2018 Draft Plan to allow such development would set a major undesirable precedent for the conversion of open space to residential development. The applicant purchased assets of the former Riddell’s Bay Golf and Country Club for commercial reasons, outbidding two other potential buyers who intended to maintain the golf course and recreational zoning. Since the applicant could make a substantial profit from the zoning change this will set a dangerous precedent for other golf courses and athletic clubs.

The signers of this petition understand that in normal circumstances planning applicant objections would be filed directly at the Bermuda Planning Department, but we believe that this requirement should be waived based on three factors:

  • The notice of intention to develop land "red signs" were only posted one week (on July 19th 2019) before the objection deadline.
  • This planning application was submitted during the peak summer holiday season when many residents are traveling.
  • The proposed change of zoning of 59.44 acres of protected recreation properties is unprecedented. For these reasons, we believe the signers of this petition should be all considered official objectors.