The man widely seen by the ousted Democratic Labour Party administration as being responsible for stalling the multimillion dollar Hyatt Centric Resort on Bay Street, The City, is offering an olive branch to the new administration.
Social activist David Comissiong told Barbados TODAY this evening he was prepared to withdraw his legal challenge to the construction of the hotel if the Mia Mottley-led Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Government agrees to his key demands.
Comissiong had been seeking a judicial review of the decision by then Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Town Planning Freundel Stuart to approve the US$100 million project, insisting on an environmental impact assessment (EIA), to include town hall meetings. He had also contended that the proposed 15-storey structure would violated the law since no building near the beach should be taller than five stories.
After a court dismissed a challenge by Stuart to Comissiong’s right to a judicial review, the then Prime Minister appeal the ruling, and a hearing is still pending.
The political activist remained adamant today that he would not budge on the EIA, adding in a reference to the BLP administration, he would also like to think that an enlightened Government would concede that such a study was necessary.
“There are two issues here. The current appeal [lodged by Stuart] is against the judge’s ruling that I have the right as a citizen to request a judicial review of the minister’s decision to approve the project. And secondly that an environmental impact assessment must be carried out even before any consideration was given to starting the project,” he explained, while emphasizing that if these two conditions were met he was prepared to negotiate an end to his lawsuit with the Mottley administration.
Comissiong spoke to Barbados TODAY mere hours after the Prime Minister announced she was preparing to meet next week with Mark Maloney, the developer of the stalled project as part of a series of meetings with the developers of all major projects on the island to discuss the status of the ventures and what was needed to get those in limbo up and running.
“I am from next week Monday starting to meet with all the major developers of all the major developments in the country to begin to understand where their developments are, what are the obstacles that are currently blocking them, if any, and what are the things that need to be addressed to facilitate it,” the Prime Minister said minutes before planting a tree on the premises of Harmony Hall Green, a $32 million condominium project now under construction on the site of the former Plantation Garden Theatre at St Lawrence, Christ Church.
“I am equally conscious that until such time as the legislative changes can be made and the policy changes can be made there are existing developments that need to be addressed, if not we are going to have problems with the economic growth that we want to propel us,” she told the gathering that included Member of Parliament for the area Ralph Thorne, Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir and Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw.
The Prime Minister was adamant that the rules of transparency and fairness must be respected by her Government in everything it did, and said there would be changes to the Town and Country Planning Department, as well as water zoning, as it affected land development.
“There has been a paper lying around for the longest time on the zoning of water in this country. Like the Town Planning legislation this is a remnant from the 1960s . . . and that was a decision by Cabinet to determine how land is zoned for development based on the potential biological contamination of water,” she said, adding that no consideration was given at the time of chemical contamination.
Mottley lamented that this country’s development had therefore been premised on things that may no longer be relevant, or, if relevant, may be capable of resolution because of technological and engineering developments.