• Submits fresh bid for Goodman’s Bay go-ahead
• ‘Expedited hearing’ ordered for 14-storey project
• Concern consultation process not correctly done
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The developer of a 14-storey Goodman’s Bay penthouse complex has restarted its bid for planning permission after agreeing that the initial approvals granted to the project should be “quashed”.
The Wynn Group, which has already completed the adjacent Residences at GoldWynn development, is urging the Town Planning Committee to abide by an Appeals Board order requiring the former to hear its site plan approval application “as expeditiously as possible” in return for not opposing the overturn of its initial permits.
The developer had to wait more than a year for the appeal hearing outcome, which has likely cost the multi-million dollar development both time and money, and its attorneys have urged the Committee to “schedule a public hearing as soon as possible” and ensure it complies with the process laid out in the Planning and Subdivision Act and its accompanying rules and regulations.
Well-placed Tribune Business sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, yesterday confirmed that Wynn had “consented” to the quashing of its earlier approval - provided its site plan application was quickly heard again - on the basis that the legal requirements for public consultation may not have been properly complied with by the planning authorities.
The initial “preliminary support of application approval”, which had been granted to Wynn for the second phase of its Goodman’s Bay development on July 12, 2022, was appealed by Eric Hoffer, who is understood to be the penthouse complex’s immediate neighbour to the east.
The phone numbers for Mr Hoffer were said not to be working yesterday, but one contact said: “Wynn agreed and consented that approval should be quashed on the condition that the matter be undertaken, and considered, on an expedited basis in accordance with the Planning and Subdivision Act. They didn’t want to waste time, and said: ‘Send it back expeditiously. Let’s do it properly’.
“It was a simple matter. They consented that the process may not have been properly followed. They said they would concede if there was an expedited hearing on the matter. Before you give site plan approval you’re supposed to have a public consultation. They [Wynn] came in and consented.”
The situation thus has some similarities with the procedural irregularities that derailed the approvals previously granted to Wendy’s for its Paradise Island restaurant, although in both instances the fault appears to lie with the Town Planning Committee’s failure to follow the procedures set out in the Planning and Subdivision Act - and its accompanying regulations - concerning fair public consultation.
Randy Hart, the Wynn Group’s vice-president, was yesterday said to be unavailable for comment on the matter. Roger Minnis, of Minnis & Company, who Town Planning Committee papers indicated is likely Mr Hoffer’s attorney, was said to be out of office and also could not be reached.
Tribune Business records indicate the penthouse project has expanded in both size and number of units. Marketing materials released back in March 2023 said it would be 12 storeys high, and feature 35 units, but Town Planning Committee materials suggest it has increased to 14 storeys and 40 units. Sales prices in March ranged from $2.6m for a two-bedroom unit to $7.25m for a five-bedroom.
Mr Hart, who in March said the project would be an “elegant addition” to the West Bay Street skyline, predicted that construction would start by summer 2023 and suggested the project’s height was unlikely to run into significant opposition. That start date, though, has already been missed.
“From my window on Cable Beach from the GoldWynn I see multiple buildings, including Aqualina and other ones that are the exact same heights,” Mr Hart said then. “This strip of beachfront here was re-zoned for commercial development and, to my knowledge, we’re not the only ones who are moving forward with development plans to put 12-storey buildings on the shoreline here.....
“This will be a very elegant addition to the shoreline and, also in terms of density, it would be lower than some of the other buildings on Cable Beach with only 35 units. The building has already gone through the Town Planning Committee and other governmental agencies, and has received the approval of the authorities.” Mr Hart, though, did not mention the existence of Mr Hoffer’s appeal, which had already been filed at that time.
Alistair Chisnell, the Graham, Thompson & Company attorney representing Wynn, in a September 12, 2023, letter called on the Town Planning Committee to fully comply with the decision and order handed down by the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board just four days earlier over his client’s 40-unit penthouse complex.
Referring to the project as ‘Penthouses at GoldWynn’, which will be located next to the developer’s existing Residences and almost directly opposite the West Bay Street entrance to the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Chisnell wrote: “We note that the Board has advised you that the decision under the Appeal has been quashed, that the [preliminary support] approval is determined to be void and set aside.
“The Town Planning Committee is directed to reconsider, de novo, the application on an expedited basis and in accordance with the provisions of the Planning and Subdivision Act,” he added in the letter, which was addressed to Keenan Johnson, the Committee’s chairman.
“On behalf of the Wynn Group we hereby confirm that the Wynn Group, as applicant, requests that the application for site plan approval previously submitted in respect of the project be reconsidered by the Town Planning Committee as expeditiously as possible.”
Mr Chisnell’s letter highlighted the Planning and Subdivision Act requirements that, within 21 days of a complete site plan approval application being submitted, a public hearing on the matter is to be held with the director of physical planning giving interested parties due notice and the date provided. And the Committee itself is required to assess such an application within two months of receipt, and “at least 14 days” after the public hearing notice is given.
“Having regard for these provisions and in the circumstances, in connection with the pending application for site plan approval to be issued in respect of the project, we shall be grateful if you would kindly arrange for a public hearing to be scheduled as soon as possible and for notice of such public hearing to be duly published as required,” Mr Chisnell wrote.
The Town Planning Committee appears to be following his request, and the Appeal Board’s September 8, 2023, order almost to the letter. The Committee, in a September 20, 2023, letter to Mr Chisnell confirmed that the site plan application was considered at its September 19, 2023, meeting held just one week after it received his letter, with the result that it “deferred a decision in order to have a public hearing to obtain the views of nearby residents”.
And the public hearing for the penthouse development, located on the northern side of West Bay Street overlooking Goodman’s Bay beach, and also featuring 49 parking spaces plus amenities such as pools and bars, has been set down for October 18, 2023.
The Appeal Board, in its ruling and Order, conceded that Mr Hoffer’s appeal had dragged on for too long given that it was lodged more than 13 months ago on July 29, 2022. “Counsel for Wynn Development, and confirmed by Randy Hart, vice-president thereof, duly advised the Board that it accepts the decision under appeal should be quashed but on the condition that this Board direct the Town Planning Committee to reconsider the application on an expedited basis,” it wrote.
“Further, it was agreed that notice of any public hearings by the Town Planning Committee in respect of such application be given to the appellant [Mr Hoffer]. Counsel for the appellant (present via telephone with the appellant appearing in person) agreed to the foregoing.”
As a result, and given “the length of time this matter has been pending”, the Board both “quashed” the original decision and ordered an expedited hearing by the Town Planning Committee.