4M Harbour Island to seek new approvals after court ruling

4M Harbour Island Limited said yesterday that it is looking forward to securing new approvals for its Harbour Island project, Briland Club Residences and Marina, after the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that approvals were granted by the wrong entity due to confusion in the language of the Planning and Subdivision Act (PSA).

4M said in a statement that it also intends to pursue remedies against the Eleuthera developer that brought the matter to court, Benjamin Simmons, for breaching a gag order that was imposed by the court.

“4M has complied with all the requirements of the court, including the gag order which limited our ability to respond to some of the allegations raised, including on social media,” the statement said.

“4M intends to pursue remedies against Mr Simmons for breach of the gag order. Mr. Simmons has signaled an intent to pursue remedies against 4M for an alleged breach of an injunction which will be opposed on the basis that, among other things, 4M complied with the injunction – just as we have sought to comply with every step of the process.”

Simmons filed the application for judicial review against 4M and the town planning committee (TPC) asking the court to set aside the site plan approval.

But during the course of the case, both 4M and the committee agreed that the wrong authority had issued the approvals and that the Harbour Island District Council is the body to issue approvals.

“Simmons/BIRD (Br-Island Responsible Development Ltd.) insisted that the correct authority was TPC, but the court disagreed, ruling that the approvals should be given by the Harbour Island District Council,” the statement said.

“4M welcomes this step – not least because of the overwhelming support and encouragement received from the residents of Harbour Island. More than 800 out of 950, approximately, registered Harbour Island voters have already signed a petition in support of the project.”

A spokesperson for 4M said in the statement: “This is essentially a matter of red tape. 4M is seeking to bring a boutique resort experience to Harbour Island, complete with over 100 jobs for the local community.

“We expect the Briland Club Residences and Marina development to be a boost to both the Harbour Island community and economy. At every step of the process we have followed the advice given to us by the government on how to proceed. We followed the application process that was recommended, held a public meeting on Harbour Island on November 16, 2017, with more than 100 people in attendance, and worked closely with government agencies to secure a Heads of Agreement and proceed with the project as planned.”

The judge in the case did not award full costs to Simmons and BIRD and ordered those parties to pay most of the cost of the substantive hearing and costs of the application for leave, while 4M was ordered to bear the cost of the application for the ex parte injunction.

“As the substantive judicial review application was simply to determine the reason for the quashing of the decision, the applicants did not succeed, on their primary ground and their alternate ground had been conceded,” the ruling said.

“The TPC’s reason for the quashing was only partially upheld by the court. Costs of the substantive hearing are awarded to 4M and 50 percent of the cost of TPC to be paid by the applicants on a standard basis.”

According to the PSA, Harbour Island is not specifically referenced as one of the islands where the Planning and Subdivision Act applies, which would mean approvals for such developments rest with the Harbour Island District Council.

Attorney for 4M, Robert Adams, said in the statement that the company is confident that the development will once again be approved.

“We are confident those will be secured and look forward to working with the Harbour Island District Council to secure those and proceed with the development,” Adams said.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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