St. Maarten Pride wants Karakter Bar to remove beach constructionsPOSTED: 04/27/11 11:55 AM
St. Maarten – The St. Maarten Pride Foundation has alerted environmental inspector Henry Ellis about constructions activities at the Karakter Beach Bar in Simpson Bay. Pride says that the owners of the bar violate the beach policy.
In the letter to Ellis, Pride states that several concerned citizens called the organization about the construction activities. Pictures provided to this newspaper show the construction of an elevated square wooden enclosure that is currently being filled with soil. “We have been informed that it is the intention to move the Karakter Bus that functions as a bar and restaurant to this area,” Pride wrote.
Ironically, the wooden enclosure features a sign of Heineken’s Bright Beaches initiative. The text on that sign reads: “Heineken St. Maarten allocates money to the Bright Beaches fund for every case of Amstel Bright beer sold on the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin. Bright Beaches makes sure the collected money goes out to different organizations that aim to achieve greater environmental awareness and nature conservation. The Bright Beaches program helps to fund beach clean-ups organized with the cooperation of the Nature Foundation and individual groups to preserve St. Maarten’s best feature.” (The reference to the Nature Foundation is a mistake; the sign should read Pride Foundation).
Pride asks in its letter to inspector Ellis whether Karakter has requested a building permit for the structure, and for the gazebo it constructed on the beach, and whether these permits have been granted. “If such a permit has not been issued, it is a violation of the building ordinance.”
But whether there is a permit or not, Pride states in the letter, the construction activities are “in clear violation of the beach policy.”
The construction is close to “important sea turtle nesting sites,” Pride states, adding that this amounts to a violation of the Island Nature Ordinance, and of a number of international treaties for the protection of sea turtles.
Quoting directly from the beach policy, Pride points out that beaches are defined as 50 meter wide strips of sand or, in the absence of natural sand, strips of 25 meter wide land measured from the high water line. The policy prohibits construction or other activities that get in the way of the normal use of a beach. “The island government’s position is that construction works on the beach are annoying and disfiguring to the surroundings,” the policy states. “It is not desirable for dwellings, hotels, businesses etc. to be built or situated on the beach.”
The policy also protects beaches against pollution, disturbance, and destruction. “The value of the beaches as a part of nature should be protected as much as possible,” the policy states.
Pride asks the inspectorate “to enforce the aforementioned legislation. The Foundation strongly recommends that these structures are immediately removed.”