Opinion: Zoning plans held hostage

POSTED: 06/27/14 1:54 AM

Dear Editor,

Sint Maarten Pride Foundation has been following the process to draft and establish Zoning Plans for Sint Maarten closely since the project was initiated in 2011/2012. The foundation has a number of questions and concerns regarding progress made with the aforementioned process.

Perhaps the journalists of your well-read publication could assist Pride in obtaining answers and easing the foundation’s concerns. According to the Ministry of Environmental Affairs’ (Vromi) website the zoning or development plans serve the following purposes:

  • “Legal framework for possible future development;
  • To designate and/or reserve land for desired use;
  • To prevent undesired development;
  • To offer legal security to residents about future development.”

The ministry’s website also informs the reader that: “The first two rounds of public meetings for the preparation of the development plans were finalized in 2013. In 2014 the St. Maarten zoning project will continue with the public hearings of the preliminary draft development plans followed by a 30 day period of public review of the draft development plans, as prescribed by the National Ordinance on Spatial development Planning.”

Sint Maarten Pride Foundation’s questions and concerns arise from the following;

Also according to Vromi’s website the second public meeting in preparation of the zoning plan for Simpson Bay took place in September 2012. The preliminary draft zoning/development plan for the Simpson Bay area was subsequently officially presented to the public at a public hearing held on February 25, 2014.

Aside from the Public Hearing for Simpson Bay no other meetings regarding the zoning plans have been held since December 2013.

To clarify this, please note that the round of second public meetings in preparation of the zoning plans already took place in 2013 in almost every district, (there is some indistinctness about Pointe Blanche). Yet there have, however, not been any public hearings other than the one held in Simpson Bay, leaving Pride to wonder what the holdup is.

Why has the process to establish zoning plans been stagnated? You may recall that the Public Hearing in Simpson Bay did not fare well for the Vromi-ministry and Minister Maurice Lake as the Simpson Bay Community and many other stakeholders made it abundantly clear that they are not in favor of the draft Simpson Bay zoning/ development plan. Has the Minister purposefully put a stop to the process to establish zoning plans to avoid bad publicity during an election year? Is this delay not akin to holding the process to establish zoning plans hostage?

Hoping that your publication can assist in providing some clarity,

Sincerely,

Sint Maarten Pride Foundation

 

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