Harbour fails to halt construction of Dock Maarten ultra-yacht pier

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POINTE BLANCHE--St. Maarten Harbour Holding Company (SHHC) NV has failed in its efforts to put a halt to plans of Dock Maarten NV to construct a marina with a pier to accommodate ultra- and giga-yachts.
~ Files for appeal against permit ~

POINTE BLANCHE--St. Maarten Harbour Holding Company (SHHC) NV has failed in its efforts to put a halt to plans of Dock Maarten NV to construct a marina with a pier to accommodate ultra- and giga-yachts with lengths of more than 100 metres.

SHHC had filed an injunction with the Court of First Instance on November 17 in its efforts to halt construction of the pier at the marina at Battery Point in Pointe Blanche.

The Dock Maarten extension started in October with the initial phase of expanding a breakwater originally built in 1984. The project will entail creating a deeper basin for the facility that services ultra- or giga-yachts, and is to result in additional protection of boat slips belonging to the company, as well as Bobby's Marina.

A building permit for the expansion of Dock Maarten, owned by the Deher family since 1979, was issued by the Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI on July 21.

The Harbour Holding Company had requested the Court to forbid the construction on or under water parcels in the area of which it is the official concession holder. The Harbour also called on the Court to order Dock Maarten to remove a constructed stone jetty from its concession area.

In July 2007, the Island Territory granted SHCC the exclusive right to pursue all harbour activities in Great Bay. According to the Holding, this entailed that Dock Maarten was acting in violation of the concession, as it had been filling in water parcels and was building a stony jetty.

Dock Maarten had also failed to submit it building plans to the Harbour Holding, it was stated.
The harbour concession, which was granted to SHCC for a period of 30 years, comprises Great Bay and Cole Bay and concerns all harbour activities.

Dock Maarten, represented in the injunction by attorneys Roeland Zwanikken and Norbert Hijmans, had requested a permit for its expansion plans at the Ministry of VROMI on December 6, 2013. The Holding had sent a letter to Minister of VROMI Maurice Lake on April 7, 2014, in which it had stated that Dock Maarten's development plans concerned a newly to be developed harbour facility in the concession area of Great Bay. However, SHHC was not informed of these development plans by the developer.
In its letter, the Harbour Holding had also asked the Minister to provide all information concerning the development plans, for it to determine whether the development plans were in accordance with the Ordinance on Harbour Concessions and the Decree Designation Great Bay and Cole Bay.

The Harbour Holding, however, never received the requested information and a building permit to construct "a rock revetment at Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard" was issued on July 21.

Based on the so-called LAR Ordinance on administrative legal procedures, the Holding could have filed objections against the building permit. As the Holding had failed to do so within the required legal period of six week and there also was no evidence that Dock Maarten had not adhered to stipulations in the building permit, the Judge arrived at the conclusion that Dock Maarten's building activities were lawful. Therefore, the Court rejected the harbour's requests to order a building stop and demolition of already constructed structures.

"In St. Maarten no rules exist that building permits need to be published, and in this case the building permit for Dock Maarten was not made known to the general public, let alone to St. Maarten Harbor Holding Company," said lawyer Chris van Amersfoort in response to Friday's court decision.

According to the attorney, the Harbor Holding Company could therefore still file an appeal against the building permit. "After having received the judgment, an appeal has been immediately filed against the building permit with the Court. In light thereof, also the ruling of the Court in the injunction case seems premature, and an appeal against that ruling is also considered," Van Amersfoort said.

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