Feedback on new Local Area Plan for Beachettes area, including Old Towne, Isles Bay and Belham Valley

As a result of the public feedback on the draft Physical Development Plan 2012-2022 (November—December 2011) the Physical Planning Unit has added detailed Local Area Plans (LAP) for the Beachettes development including Old Towne, Isles Bay and the Belham Valley.  They have again asked for public feedback.  However, the time frame for response is very short–the deadline is May 21, 2012 (less than two weeks).  This information can be found on the Government web site http://www.gov.ms/?p=6416

The LAP pdf file can be downloaded via this link: http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Local-area-plans-Woodland-Olveston.pdf

This file covers:
– 7.10 Woodlands and Olveston Local Area Plan
– 7.11 Salem Local Area Plan
– 7.12 Old Towne, Isles Bay and the Belham Valley Local Area Plan

We encourage you to respond with your feedback as soon as possible.  This is our last chance to impact Government’s proposed zoning/land use changes to support the development of the sand mining industry in the Belham Valley, including a proposed export jetty at Isles Bay Beach.  You may also wish to provide feedback on other issues.

Belham Valley Sand Mining and export Jetty at Isles Bay Beach

Please find below feedback recently submitted by one of our resident owners.  It addresses the majority of our concerns regarding sand mining related zoning/land use changes.  You are welcome to use any part of it in your response to the Physical Planning Unit.
Email your feedback to:  ppu@gov.ms
Again, we encourage you to respond as soon as possible.  The deadline is Monday, May 21, 2012.
Best regards,
Your neighbors…

 

Feedback on the  Old Towne, Isles Bay and the Belham Valley Local Area Plan

Since the early development of the Beachettes community in the 1960’s (including Old Towne, Isles Bay, the Belham Valley golf course and beach), residential and tourism property owners have relied upon Government, Physical Planning, and the laws of Montserrat to preserve and protect their properties and the adjacent recreation areas from incompatible development (e.g. industrial).  In choosing to invest in this area, we relied upon assurances from Government that it would preserve the area’s integrity.  Until recent years, Government has honored these assurances.

The proposed zoning/land use changes outlined in the PDP (e.g Figure 7.21 Old Towne, Isles Bay and the Belham Valley Land Use Zones, January 2012) will severely and adversely impact the value of all residential and tourism development in the Belham Valley area and will thwart any prospect for future development.  Additionally, this proposed development will severely and adversely impact the peaceful use of all residential and tourism property, including the Vue Pointe Hotel and the beach recreation area.

According to the Montserrat Mining and Quarrying Industry Study, as modified by the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Sand Mining Industry in Montserrat (which halved the potential productive capacity of the industry as outlined in the Study), there would be an overall net decrease in public benefit to Montserrat if the industry is allowed to operate in the lower Belham Valley residential and tourism area.  The negative impact on the villa and tourism economies would more than offset any public gain from sand mining.

Sand mining is a low employment, low wage industry.  These proposed zoning/land use changes appear to be for the benefit of a few prominent individuals and at the expense of all Belham Valley residential and tourism property owners and recreational users.  There appears to be little if any regard for the severe and adverse impact this development will have on the value of all residential and tourism property investment in the area.  This is ironic given Governments’ objective to solicit new investment in the North.

We believe the proposed zoning/use changes are in breach of the rights and legitimate expectations of all Belham Valley residential and tourism property owners– that the area would remain zonedexclusively for residential, tourism, and recreational use, without the excessive noise, dust, pollution and nuisance this proposed development would cause.  Furthermore, mining, hauling and port operations within/between residential and recreational areas are not only a direct safety risk to residents and beach users, but are an environmental hazard as well.

We believe these proposed zoning/land use changes will severely and irreparably harm all Belham Valley residential and tourism property owners.

Specific Comments regarding sand mining zoning/land use changes:
Re Figure 7.21 Old Towne, Isles Bay and the Belham Valley Land Use Zones, January 2012
Please note the following:
  • Indicative Potential Makeshift Haul Road from the Old Belham Bridge to Isles Bay Beach
  • Indicative Potential Jetty at Isles Bay Beach
  • Lower Limit for Mineral Extraction (within/between the residential developments of Old Towne and Isles Bay)
  • Land Zoned for Recreational Use (west of the lower limit for mineral extraction to the Beach)
The haul road and jetty are not compatible with the existing residential and tourism development, and recreational usage. T
he planned mining production volume documented in the Environmental Impact Assessment equates to an average of one round trip truck passage every 5 minutes, 8 hours a day, 6 days a week throughout the year–not to mention the jetty facility operations including barge activity and loading equipment. The haul road and jetty are not acceptable under any circumstances within/between the residential, tourism and beach recreation area.

There should be no mining or related activity of any kind below the lower limit for mineral extraction, including plant sites, transport, and loading or unloading of sand at the beach.

The lower limit for mineral extraction within the residential area is not acceptable because it does not provide an adequate buffer for residents.  It should be moved further East to the Old Belham Bridge.
The Land Zoned for Recreational Use is a compatible change and consistent with previous zoning/use.

 

Additional Comments:

Government and the sand mining industry have several alternatives to an export facility at Isles Bay Beach.

1. Export only when the Plymouth Jetty in Zone C is available– temporarily stop if/when it is unsafe due to volcanic activity;
2. Develop a safer jetty in Zone C (than the Plymouth jetty) at Foxes Bay or Richmond Hill– temporarily stop if/when it is unsafe;
3. Temporarily use the main port in the North at Carrs Bay if/when Zone C (Plymouth Jetty, etc.) is unsafe– using the A1 road for transport and adhering to the new load limits; or
4. Mine the resource for local use only– not for export.

Beach Sand Mining at Isles Bay:Presently Isles Bay is designated by Government for beach sand mining under the Beach Protection Act (2002)–despite its recreational and environmental importance outlined in the new PDP.

An alternative source should be designated that does not adversely impact residents and beach users (e.g. Foxes Bay, Richmond Hill, Plymouth, east coast beaches, etc.).  Isles Bay Beach mining should be immediately terminated.

Heavy loading equipment and 20-ton dump trucks have destroyed the Isles Bay beach access road (off the main road). This road is no longer safe for passenger cars and is rapidly becoming impassible by higher clearance SUV’s and trucks.  This road serves both residents and beach users and was never intended or designed for heavy industrial use.  The Isles Bay main road has also incurred damage from this activity.  Residents have made numerous requests for repairs.  Government has yet to address the damage despite having directly benefitted from fees and use of the beach sand in Government projects.

2 comments

  1. Pamela Fulford

    Thank you for your website and thanks to all the people, on and off island that are fighting this ridiculous sand mining initiative on the beautiful island of Montserrat. After years of disruption from the active volcano, the Government of Montserrat has added insult to injury for the residents that have hung on to their properties – with this incompatible and ludicrous plan for heavy industry in Isles Bay, Old Towne and the beautiful Belham Valley. We must continue to oppose.
    Pamela Fulford

  2. Sometime ago I visited Montserrat and was surprised by its unspoilt beauty and tranquillity. As a result I purchased a building lot to develop for my retirement. Sadly the reckless approach to development and lack of control on the activities of the Isles Bay sand mining clique by the GOM has resulted -in common with many others- in me to postpone and probably abandon my plans to retire to Montserrat.

    Clearly the people of Montserrat need development and there must be compromises however in this particular instance it would appear that the GOM cannot or are unwilling to police and enforce the activities of the miners and has ignored the findings of the EIA. This represents a gross breach of trust that will not go unnoticed by those inside and out wishing to invest in Montserrat.

    Abandon the jetty and mine from inland areas…before it’s too late.