Sat | Aug 27, 2016

Don't turn Negril into Cancún bore

Published:Tuesday | February 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

This is an open letter to Land and Environment Minister Robert Pickersgill.

Let me first thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to come to Negril to talk with the stakeholders and the community at large on the proposed changes to the building code. After digesting the proposed increased height restriction from three to four floors and the reduced setback from 150 feet to 100 feet, I have come to the conclusion that this would be a retrograde step for Negril and its environment. I, therefore, object to the proposed development order.

First, this translates to increasing the rooms per acre by one-third - a dramatic increase, that will put strain on our current water and sewerage services. Second, reducing the setbacks could lead to further beach erosion.

While all of us here in the Negril community welcome investments from wherever they come from, we are not prepared to sacrifice Negril's character or its survival by further destruction of our already fragile ecosystem. This is the time to correct the environmental ills of the past, not to exacerbate them by passing the new building ordinance.

Negril, as a resort destination, has led Jamaica in being the most desired place for tourists to visit, not only because of the seven-mile beach, but because of its low-density, low-rise appeal, which has served us well for the past 40 years. Why change this now?

Investors must be enlightened to appreciate this. Lower room density will attract higher rates and a good return on their investment. We do not want to turn Negril into a Cancún-type resort destination. There are already too many of those around the world.

When you are out sailing in this natural bay and you look back at the coastline, one sees the architecture and landscape blending harmoniously. Negril is a unique and naturally beautiful place. Let's keep it that way.

ELIAS LEE ISSA

Chairman, Couples Resorts.

Director, Negril Chamber of Commerce