FRIDAY, MAY 4: Health Minister Zane De Silva has withdrawn his controversial planning appeal to build on Devonshire Marsh.
Planning Minister Marc Bean announced the move yesterday. He had pledged to look into the case when he took office.
The Zanzara Trust application sparked widespread anger last November when it emerged former Planning Minister Walter Roban upheld the appeal against the advice of the independent inspector and in his final hours in office.
Mr Roban came under further fire from opposition MPs and environmental groups for his handling of a second application in which he upheld an appeal by Minister Wayne Furbert, via the Cyrus Trust, to add two lots next to his house in similar circumstances.
The saga prompted Mr Roban to resign as Minister.
Yesterday Mr Bean said: “Having considered all of the information before me, and prior to my making a decision, on April 23, 2012, the Zanzara Trust advised me of its decision to withdraw its appeal.
“Having done so, the Trust is free to submit another Planning Application at any time for consideration through the normal Planning process.”
Mr Bean said he had completed his review of the Zanzara appeal and come to a final decision before the trust announced its decision to withdraw the appeal.
But he refused to say what his decision was.
The Planning Minister revealed that he had dismissed the appeal made by Mr Furbert, which Mr Roban had upheld.
He added: “I have accepted the recommendation of the Independent Inspector to dismiss the Appeal of the Cyrus Trust.
“That decision was made on March 20 and made available for public scrutiny thereafter, as is the normal procedure.
“As is the case with any Planning Application that has been rejected, the applicant is free to submit another application for the consideration of the Development Applications Board.
“I am somewhat surprised that some who normally review Planning decisions continued to ask when a decision would be made on this appeal, when the information had been available publicly since the end of March through the normal planning process.”
OBA Senator Mark Fahy responded to Mr Bean’s comments saying: “Congratulations to Minister Marc Bean for finally closing the chapter on these two controversial planning decisions involving his Cabinet colleagues.
“The decisions by Mr Bean’s predecessor to approve the land development appeals involving fellow ministers Zane De Silva and Wayne Furbert — decisions that prompted his resignation — were clearly wrong and we are pleased that the Minister has finally dealt with them.
“We believe the decision by Minister Bean in respect of Minister Wayne Furbert’s Trust was correct.
“As regards the Trust application involving Minister De Silva, it is a shame it was not withdrawn sooner so as not to put Minister Bean in the position in which he found himself.
“We hope that in moving forward the Government does not put itself in such an untenable position again.
“It serves no one’s purpose — not the Government’s or the publics — to have doubts and questions hanging in the air for months.
“The great winner in all this has been Bermuda’s environment, which has been saved from gross violation in both cases.
“It is also a vindication, in a way, of the Planning Department’s procedures.
“Planning officials were obviously as anxious as the rest of us to stop these applications from being allowed to go ahead.”
The Sun tried to contact both Mr De Silva and Mr Furbert for comment but neither returned our calls by press time.