Published On: Sat, Jan 15th, 2022

Beacon Hill residents: “You would expect Government to care for your safety, wouldn’t you?”

BEACON HILL — Residents of Beacon Hill paid $250,000 to pave Beacon Hill Road in 2007 and have since come up with other initiatives to improve accessibility and safety on the small peninsula. But today Pride of Beacon Hill residents’ association sees its efforts thwarted by Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran who denies a permit for the existing security entry hut in Beacon Hill while allowing commercial development in this residential-only neighborhood.

The new year has barely begun and members of Pride of Beacon Hill (PBH) are already preparing the filing of objections against a Ministerial Order, this time against the rejection of a previously promised permit. Following several violent crimes, burglaries and car thefts, PBH financed the construction of the security hut and employment of guards with the approval of former Minister of VROMI Chris Wever, who issued an exemption letter dated November 26, 2019. See image below; click to enlarge.


“Further we had approval of Princess Juliana International Airport management and security, as well the guidance of Community Police Inspector Josepha, acting chief of police Benjamin Gout, and the Minister of Justice at the time,” PBH stated. “The one rule PBHA was given by the Minister of Justice is that we can never prevent entry to the neighborhood, which the guards strictly adhere to.”

The boom is only lowered between 9:00pm and 6:00am, with a guard checking for residency. “Everyone is allowed entry,” PBH stressed. “If you do not have a PBH pass, your vehicle tag is recorded. This is done to help the police in case of an emergency or incident.”

Photo caption: Entry to Phoenician where 30 appartments are planned.

Since the entry hut and boom implementation crime has reduced by 90 per cent in Beacon Hill, according to PBH. “The hut has provided instant evidence to police detectives to arrest the car thieves who stole 24 vehicles and to trace the murderer of school teacher Rhonda Thomas, our neighbor. Her killer was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison.”

Minister Doran’s negative decision has not yet been handed over to the residents. PBH did receive an email from the Ministry of VROMI, with attached a letter from Minister Doran in which the latter rejects the request for the formal allocation of the permit for the security entry hut. Minister Doran states his motivation is to “not permit blockades … or security checks”.

The letter from Minister Doran is dated December 1, 2021, the day on which an administrative hearing took place regarding the issuing of a permit for a four storey condo complex on 12 Fan Coral Road in Beacon Hill – the third commercial development in a residential area where all property deeds include a restriction to adhere to the Beacon Hill Covenants which clearly state that only single family homes are allowed.

Photo caption: Drakes residences under construction.

Minister Doran’s rejection comes 18 months after the initial request to assign a permit based on the exemption letter from former VROMI Minister Chris Wever. “Doran’s late denial comes across as an attempt at revenge for our neighborhood defending our zoning and neighborhood covenants with the 12 Fan Coral objections to the first four-storey building with twelve condos on a single family zoned lot,” PBH commented. “Or perhaps it’s because of the Ombudsman investigation into the delay on this permit and other charges against Minister Doran. After all it may be coincidental that the Minister finally managed a response on the permit after our 18 months of requesting his signature, that he dated the denial letter as the same date as the administrative hearing date, December 1, 2021.”

According to the residents, the rise in crime is related to high-density developments in their neighborhood. “We are now aware of three projects – Drakes Residences and six-storey apartment complex The Phoenician, by the same developer, and approximately 130 units on the Alegria property – that will increase the total residential density by 60 per cent and may be allowed to proceed regardless of their potential violation of current restrictions regarding land leases, property deeds, neighborhood covenants, and the Simpson Bay Development plan. Such overdevelopment upon the infrastructure places the safety of all residents at risk.”

The current residents suffer from road flooding and a high risk to their only evacuation route being blocked, PBH stated. “Our entry corridor is unlit and has been the scene of many crimes including the beating to death of a gay tourist several years ago. Our roads are barely wide enough for two cars to pass. Public services such as GEBE, Telem, fire, police, and garbage collection must also be considered with such bursting expansion.” PBH added: “Please note, that Beacon Hill neighbors have maintained a security hut and boom for over 11 years at the intersection of Fan Coral Road and Beacon Hill road. This boom is unpermitted, supported by over 20 households on that Cul de Sac, and staffed from 6:00pm to 6:00am. That section of Beacon Hill Road has had zero crime since their hut and boom was installed.”