People walk out on preliminary consultation for Laguna de Cayo Frances development

Friday, November 18th, 2016

A preliminary public consultation for the proposed development at Laguna De Cayo Frances came to an abrupt halt when attendees walked out of the consultation. Held on Wednesday, November 16th at the San Pedro Lions Den, the meeting aimed to gather feedback from island residents on the development of a new environmental impact assessment (EIA). Despite the unexpected results of the meeting, the plans for the EIA will proceed as scheduled, including the minimal information obtained at the meeting.laguna-cayo-frances-eia-consultation-1
Approximately 25 stakeholders showed up eager to learn more about the proposed tourism project to be constructed about 13 miles north of San Pedro Town. The development is ultimately designed to accommodate 12 hotel complexes spanning 375 acres and offering 6,100 suites; 302 multi-family complexes spanning 430 acres and offering a total of 1,210 units; 835 single family residences spanning 965 acres; 20 over-water villas spanning 30 acres; 400 beach club condominium units on 20 acres of Caribbean beach front; as well as a transit pier on five acres, and a free zone established on 140 acres; for a total of 8,565 suits, units and residences, to be established on 3,000 acres. The amenities include: boating facilities; spa and fitness clubs, an airstrip and a golf course.laguna-cayo-frances-eia-consultation-2
The presentation was hosted by representatives of the Belize Environmental Technologies (BET), the firm who is in charge of constructing the project’s EIA. Before the informational session began, Ismael Fabro, Managing Director of BET, distributed forms to the attendees in which they could write down their suggestions and concerns regarding the development. As the presenters started explaining the different phases in which the project is to be executed, the stakeholders began questioning the reality of the massive construction. Many questioned the entity behind the project, Caribbean Developers (Belize) Ltd, and the legal situation of the company. Fabro briefly addressed the questions of the attendees, and informed everyone that at the end of the consultation there would be a time for questions and answers.
However, stakeholders were still concerned about the company behind the project, which is apparently owned by a group of Koreans. The 3,000 acres of property in northern Ambergris Caye is in receivership, yet development is being proposed. Furthermore, the presentation was based on a plan from 2009, which attendees did not take well, calling the project ‘clueless’ and ‘bogus.’ Presenters tried to recover the interest of the audience, and emphasized that their presentation was based on a past concept that needed their input in order to take an acceptable shape. Despite their efforts, most of the attendees did not give the presentation a break. They declared the presentation meaningless, pointing out that there might be a different purpose behind this massive development, which would not directly benefit the island nor the country.laguna-cayo-frances-eia-consultation-3
Fabro admitted that while their presentation was based on a 7-year-old EIA, they were gathering new information to re-do it. "This is the reason why we came here, to listen to everyone's concerns and suggestions so we can apply for the new EIA we are working on," said Fabro. "This was a very important moment for them to have given us their guidance, so when we present the EIA, it would include all of their input. Sadly that did not happen." Fabro said that they will continue moving forward with the EIA for Laguna de Cayo Frances. He reiterated that they will now have to work with the little information they were able to obtain and prepare the new EIA.
A date was not given as to when the EIA would be ready, but the next consultation will feature its official presentation, which will detail the new arrangements of the project. According to BET, any important information that should be considered prior to the preparation of the EIA can still be sent to them electronically. For further information on the project, Fabro at BET can be contact at 223-1819/607-1957 or via email at [email protected] A copy of the “Summary Development Project Document”, can be viewed at: drive.google.com/file/d/0B9rqXlUnnRFkNExmd1VoTmVKd00/view?usp=sharing

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