Carrot Bay's Plans
- February 28th, 2011
- in Yachting
Carrot Bay Faced with Future Plans
Residents debate a new look for community
As one of the last bastions of the old BVI, where foreigners are few and land is still closely held by families, Carrot Bay serves as a touchstone of cultural authenticity.
While many residents head over the hills to Road Town every morning to work, it's still an agricultural and fishing village where farmers sell their crops at the roadside and fishermen offer up their catch. Because it lacks the picturesque beachfront of its neighbours, Cane Garden Bay and Long Bay, Carrot Bay hasn't felt the boon of the tourist industry as well as those other locations.
A recent community meeting, hosted by the Town and Country Planning Department and the Planning Authority, and chaired by Marva Titley-Smith, the department's chief planner, examined the future of the Carrot Bay area. The purpose was to explore the draft plan, which grew out of viewpoints expressed at an earlier gathering.
Displays and documents showed an impressive vision for the future: an air tram/gondola riding to the top of Sage Mountain, hiking trails and sea walls incorporating swimming areas and walkways. In her introductory comments, Angela Burnett Penn of the Dept. of Conservation and Fisheries defined some of the natural challenges to development, such as high winds, storm surge, floods and landslides. She also described development decisions as taking into account the future changes resulting from an increase in global temperatures, such as increased wind velocities and more intense rainfall.
Louis Potter, whose firm is consulting on the project, called the Carrot Bay area “homogenous and very local. We don't want it to become diluted so the locals become a minority.” As for developers, the former Town and Country Planning chief officer said, “They should engineer roads and drainage systems” on their lots prior to selling, unlike the present system. He also pointed to drainage ghuts that were “better developed than anywhere in the BVI,” an example of exemplary foresight.
Responses to the presentation were skeptical, quoting previous failures to implement promised improvements. One complaint pointed out insufficient local input. “No one on your committee is from here,” Mr. Potter was told. Others commented on the lack of promised development at the festival grounds. “It was supposed to be a cultural area for the community with a park and playgrounds and shops to sell stuff to the cruise ship passengers,” one woman lamented. “Now it's only used three days a year in August.”
Another resident pointed out that “the fishermen's area is the most important project in all Carrot Bay,” and required a shelter so the fishermen could clean their catch out of the sun. “Down island every place has a nice area for the fishermen, so why not here?” she asked.
The meeting ended in a minor uproar as details of the plan were debated. No development within 50 feet of a ghut? Try telling that to a landowner whose inherited property is so situated. Perhaps there will need to be a form of grandfathered development right for such properties. Raised sea walls to counter storm surges? Isn't that just a way of introducing reclamation of the shoreline? These topics of debate continue to linger, as the community braces for a predicted surge in growth and traffic. By 2020, the Developmnetal Planning Unit predicts Carrot Bay’s population will jump from about 800 to 1,030.
The planners clearly treat the Carrot Bay project seriously. It is a village, like no other, with special cultural and historical import, which the plan is intended to preserve. The next step in the process will be the presentation of the final plan to the Carrot Bay stakeholders before it goes to Cabinet to wait for a final decision. Judging by the response at this recent community meeting, the projected requirements of the future will still clash with the unmet demands of the present.