PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Hon. Maurice Lake said on Wednesday that he has appointed a Committee of Experts who will review the objections that were filed with respect to the draft development plan for Simpson Bay, and prepare them for the necessary process here on forward which is sending them to the Council of Ministers and then on to Parliament for debate.
The public review ended on June 3. It had initially started on May 5.
Minister Lake said on Wednesday that all the objections have been duly received and, while there may be some miscellaneous objections, the majority are related to: filling in the Simpson Bay Lagoon by SXM Airport; the construction of a mega yacht pier at the entrance to the Simpson Bay Lagoon; the construction of a boardwalk along part of the Lagoon; and the construction of an additional marina to the south east end of the Causeway.
“Based on the objections submitted, it is now time for the Committee of Experts in Zoning to get to work. I just signed the appointment of new members to the committee. The appointment of the members of the Committee of Experts has been finalized to continue the process in an open and transparent manner for the people of St. Maarten.
“I am very happy with the process of the zoning plans which was presented to the people. I lived up to my promises to the Simpson Bay Community Council by organizing separate meetings with the Management of the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority to explain the mega yacht pier, and Management of SXM Airport to present their strategic expansion plan for the airport.
“Based on the separate meetings, Airport Management and Community Council will have four meetings within the year to keep each other abreast of any developments. I have to applaud Airport Director Regina Labega and her Management Team for taking such an initiative for working closely with the Simpson Bay Community.
“The airport is also working very closely with the Council on community projects within the district. I also had a separate meeting with the Marine Trades Association to get their input and comments about developments.
“This is the first time a Minister took such an open approach to the community. As I always stated these zoning plans were before my time, and they are not my ideas but it's the people who has the last say about these plans.
“It's good to see everyone giving their input about the draft plans, and there are those who just want to create confusion without giving any solutions while they were part of the same plans and didn't say anything because of politics.
“But they are very vocal about the same plans that were presented two times before. It is good to criticize everything but you got to contribute positive for the love of this Country. I try my best to be fair with everything I do in my job, and respect each other’s opinion, and make a decision in the best interests to move our beloved Country forward,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake said on Wednesday.
Minister Lake added, “In my personal opinion, I don't believe in a boardwalk or mega cruise pier. I come from a community background in which I promote to maintain your heritage within your community. I strongly believe in a sustainable balance with the filing in of the lagoon for the taxi way which entails approximately 15 acres, but not filling in an area of 30 acres.
“Just the amount which has already been approved for the taxi way for our private jets to keep that competitive edge in the Caribbean is sufficient. In the meeting, the residents were complaining about not to build an aircraft hangar with it being too close to their homes.
“The airport listened in the meeting with respect to the people’s wishes. We got to learn to communicate without slander and develop this Country in keeping our heritage of our forefathers in mind and to continue to promote sustainable development,” Minister Hon. Maurice Lake concluded.