Real Estate development of Cayo Grande on lagoon side receives approval for 130-lot subdivision

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

After concerned residents reported the cutting of mangroves on a private island/area formerly known as ‘Peanut Caye’, a cease and desist order was quickly issued. The area, which is a large extension of mangroves (30 acres) was inspected by personnel of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, who discovered that clearing was underway along what seems to be approved survey lines. As a result, the activity will now be closely monitored to ensure there is no further development, unless the right permits are acquired. According to the developers of “Cayo Grande Island”, the project has received approval for a 130-lot subdivision, and the plan includes roads, open spaces, canals and natural barriers.

Cayo Grande Island is listed on the website of AgroNosotros, a Panama-based company that primarily does business with coffee, chocolate and operates the Peini Cacao Plantation in Toledo District Southern Belize. Cayo Grande Island is expected to turn into ‘New San Pedro’ and eventually merge with the downtown area.

Approval granted to subdivided Cayo Grande Island

In March 2019, the developers stated via AgroNosotros website that Cayo Grande Island was going to obtain all the necessary permits and all legal and regulatory requirements before it is sold and developed by a potential buyer. In an update shared in January of this year, via their newsletter, the company announced the approval to subdivide the mangrove island. The newsletter adds that they received ‘Provisional Approval to Subdivide’ the whole island, as well as approval for the 130-lot subdivision, with no contingencies attached. The development will be subdivided and separately titled. The island will be transformed with infrastructure like roads, canals and open spaces.

This approval process was allegedly a collective effort involving the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Land Utilization Department, the Department of the Environment, and the Lands Commissioner. This exact information could not be confirmed at press time, but in a previous interview with Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Sustainable Development, the Environment, Climate Change, and Solid Waste Management Authority, Dr. Percival Cho, he briefly stated that depending on the plans with the property; they may have to go through an Environmental Impact Assessment process (EIA). An EIA is usually needed before any development of that magnitude can be materialized on a sensitive area like this mangrove island. Currently, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of the Environment, in consultation with the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, has temporarily postponed any public consultations for the EIA process until further notice.

Final approval to be sought for Cayo Grande Island

The next steps in the months to come, based on the information from AgroNosotros, is getting final approval. This begins with surveying, followed by mapping and review for subdivision of title. The need of an EIA was not mentioned in the newsletter.

The concern about developing the mangrove island

Residents have voiced their concerns on the proposed project that is to take place on the mangrove island, which apparently has no stable land. In addition, the mangrove in this location is not only a key habitat for juvenile fish, but home to a wide array wildlife and birds. It is also considered a barrier that protects the leeward side of the island from inclement weather and even hurricanes. In the past, when a cold front enters the country, freak storms with hurricane-like winds have developed, which can badly affect residents living on that side of San Pedro. Residents say that having that wall of mangrove helps to break some of the high surges and strong winds coming from the lagoon. They believe that by developing this area and cutting down the mangroves, downtown San Pedro will be left exposed and vulnerable to the elements of unpredictable weather.

The management of the project hopes to start marketing the development sooner than expected, as they intend to satisfy their investors.

We will continue following this story of environmental interest.


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