Fri | Dec 2, 2016

'I want back my money' - Caymanas Country Club Estate house owners livid after changes to Highway 2000 puts it in their backyards!

Published:Sunday | January 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The entrance to Phase Two of the Caymanas Country Club Estate.
A section of Caymanas Country Club Estate with the area where the highway is being built in the background.
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Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer

They bought the promised lifestyle of modern upscale houses outfitted with energy conservation features, in a serene and safe environment.

Now having spent millions of dollars, they have discovered that the serenity which they were promised in Caymanas Country Club Estate could be nothing but a mirage as a planned realignment of the Caymanas to Linstead leg of Highway 2000 will take it mere metres from the front doors of some houses. It could also run onto the property of at least three homeowners.

According to the homeowners, the highway will bring security risks, noise nuisance and the possibility of flooding.

Already 16 of the homeowners, who spent a combined total of more than $250 million, are demanding that someone needs to buy back their homes.

The angry homeowners say someone should have told them of the proposed realignment of the highway when they took possession of the houses. Some as recent as December 2014.

At a town hall meeting last Thursday at the Caymanas Golf Club, the owners told of a slew of grievances, and gave representatives of various State agencies a tongue lashing.

Ivan Anderson, managing director, National Road Operating and Construction Company (NROC), took the most heat as residents verbally attacked him and charged that they were disrespected when they called his office to enquire about the realignment of the highway.

He told the meeting that up to November last year, no decision was made on the new route of the highway. However, he would later claim that individuals whose property would be impacted, were contacted more than one year ago.

Alton Bramwell, one of the most vociferous owners, told the meeting he was told the equivalent of "sit down and shut up" when he complained of rock blasting taking place at 6 a.m. on New Year's Day.

Bramwell was adamant that no highway would run on his property.

"Put that road there if you bad!" he declared, to applause from the homeowners at the meeting.

One female owner charged that the developer, New Era Homes, told her nothing about the highway before her $17-million purchase last year. She said she found it a coincidence that the houses were scheduled to be completed in March 2015, but were finished August 2014.

It was her belief that the developers finished early so they could sell the houses before the road was built.

Another female homeowner, Yvonne Nelson, said she paid $18.6 million for her house which sits on a slightly larger lot.

"I concluded business with New Era Homes in October, but started occupying the house in December last year. During the time of the negotiations and purchase of the property, no one told me that Highway 2000 was going to run through Block C," Nelson told The Sunday Gleaner.

Nelson, a returning resident, said she became aware of the realignment, from other individuals in the community. According to Nelson, she has since learnt that representatives of the developers, New Era Homes held a meeting with at least three homeowners, whose houses will be directly impacted.

"In one instance, the highway will be four feet from the back door of one of the houses," she said, adding that it will be 120 feet from her front door.

"This is not happening. Somebody needs to write me a cheque for $20 million," declared Nelson.

However, Desmond Young, vice-president of New Era Homes, said the developers have also objected to the highway route.

"If there is to be a realignment through the property, we object. That is our position," Young told the meeting.

Highway warning

An environmental assessment done by CL Environmental for the National Road Operating and Construction Company dated December 2014 pointed to several challenges for residents of Caymanas Country Club Estate if the proposed realignment of Highway 200 took place.

"The proposed highway realignment will result in a section of Caymanas Country Club - Phase II Block C, being impacted, and approximately three lots will be impacted and approximately 100 metres of the western perimeter wall will be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate the realigned highway," said the report.

"The demolishing of the perimeter wall has the potential to create a security risk for the residents in Phase II," added the report.

It was noted that the realignment of the highway became necessary because the, "area where the approved alignment merges with the Mandela Highway is occupied by a police station (Ferry) school (Hydel) and residential developments which would necessitate major demolition and relocations.

"In addition, the NWC pipelines would be impacted and this could prove complicated to divert or relocate the pipelines."

An environmental assessment done by CL Environmental for the National Road Operating and Construction Company, dated December 2014, pointed to several challenges for residents of Caymanas Country Club Estate if the proposed realignment of Highway 2000 took place.

"The proposed highway realignment will result in a section of Caymanas Country Club - Phase II Block C - being impacted, and approximately three lots will be impacted and approximately 100 metres of the western perimeter wall will be demolished and rebuilt to accommodate the realigned highway," said the report.

"The demolishing of the perimeter wall has the potential to create a security risk for the residents in Phase II," added the report.

It was noted that the realignment of the highway became necessary because the "area where the approved alignment merges with the Mandela Highway is occupied by a police station (Ferry) school (Hydel) and residential developments, which would necessitate major demolition and relocations.

"In addition, the NWC pipelines would be impacted, and this could prove complicated to divert or relocate the pipelines."

Photos by Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer