Status of Current Island Developments

Summary of major developments:

Cayo Rosario

In 2015, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Belize’s most visited marine reserve was expanded to include over 135 sq miles of shoals, wetlands, mangrove cayes and expansive flats.  The purpose of the expansion was to forever preserve an invaluable nursery for our Belize Barrier reef and vital habitat for the prized and protected permit, tarpon and bonefish.

This reserve is now in imminent danger with a recently approved development project on and around tiny Cayo Rosario (Rosary Caye “Key”).  The government of Belize has approved both large scale dredging and massive over-the-water construction around the small island. The pristine flats around Rosario are some of the finest permit flats in the country.  The fly fishing industry directly and indirectly supports 1000’s of jobs on Ambergris Caye and attracts many more visitors to the island each year.

The San Pedro Tour Guides Association unanimously opposes this project.

The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) opposes the project.

Fishing lodges, hotels and businesses oppose the project.

International organizations such as Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and international companies such as Yellowdog Fly Fishing and Orvis oppose the project.

Stand with the guides & the people of Ambergris Caye to say NO to destructive dredging and over-the-water development in Belize’s Hol Chan Marine Reserve.


South Beach Belize (no updates since 2012)

Still does not have all approvals. Government is working on a compromise plan involving the developer giving a large portion of the area over as a marine reserve.  The developer has illegally started filling several lots and an access road at the northern edge of the development.  Coldwell Banker Belize has several for sale/sold signs with the area.  The developer has found a friend in the Minister for Economical development who has written a letter saying cabinet has approved phase one.  The Ministers we have spoken say it has not been to cabinet.  Our own Chairman of the local Building authority says it doesn’t matter as it hasn’t been approved locally so no construction can proceed.  As of:

  • February 2010: No further development has taken place.
  • March 2010: Some minor work starting again on the northern access road – widening, removal of chopped mangroves.  Still no news on the status of the MOU.
  • May 2010: Work has started on one of the four houses approved by the Central housing authority.
  • January  2011: Coldwell banker real estate agent has started selling cleared property at Tarpon bay – inside the south beach area – no approvals for mangrove clearing or subdivision have been granted.  Letters have been sent to government agencies asking for action.

Sugar Caye Development

Lots next to the Sewage ponds.  Received all permits by offering a % of all sale income to the town council.  DOE, Geology, Forestry gave all permits without visiting the site as it was requested by the town board and local Minister.  Excavating and filling going ahead.  Sugar caye have dredged a large area south of the Wasa road to the Sewage ponds, killing acres of mangrove and removing 1000’s of cubic yards of fill material.  As of:February 2010: Photos of this have been sent to the Forestry Department (see below) to have them issue a stop order for illegally cutting mangroves.

  • March 2010: Geology visit the site for an inspection as dredging seems to be far in excess of the 45,000 cubic yards they are legally allowed by the ECPs to dredge.
  • Easter 2010: Consolidated water services BWS cannot keep up with demand for water during our peak tourist time.  Sugar Caye deny being the cause of this problem.  Public utilities commission, DOE and Public health commission visits the island to take water samples and inspect to site.  Dave Mitchell has started building a grand entrance.  Although an approval letter was signed by the head of the local building authority it was not approved by the committee, so is illegal.
  • March 2011: Mr. Mitchell kindly visited the office with copies of the letter signed by the head of the local building authority granting approval for the Grand entrance and a security house, a receipt for a payment to the Building authority.  There is still no sign of the minutes of any meeting of the committee showing this approval or any sign of approval for the 4 building being constructed within the Sugar caye subdivision.
  • April 06, 2011: Sugar Caye Dev.  were approved for 9 commercial houses in the development.
  • 2014: Sugar Caye Development recently changed its name to Mahogany Bay Village –  after approval for a number of houses a while ago Sugar Caye continued construction and have completed a few of them. Mahogany Bay is not a new project but the same one going on for quite some years. The same one which was has been dredging large areas for the past on the south of the WASA road to the sewage ponds.
  • May 2014 – In recent findings we learnt that Mahogany Bay (formerly Sugar Caye Development) were given building permits for 12 houses. A few months later after receiving reports and queries we found out that they are building 4 times the number of houses and not 12 as approved. Sugar Caye Dev. now known as Mahogany Bay has a total of 58 buildings now.
  • February 2015 – On November 21, we met with the representant of Grand Belizean Estates who explained to us that the current dredging that was occuring at the sewage ponds was being financed by them but under the management of Belize Water Services. We have tried obtaining a copy of their plans but up to this day it has been impossible. We contacted the BWS offices in Belize City but to no avail. Our understanding is that last month Department of Environment, Physical Planning, Mining and Fisheries Departments were here to make an inspection to the site. We have not received results yet but we are following on this matter.

San Pedro Estates Subdivision – Grand Belizean Estates

5 miles north on the west side of the island.  As per Sugar caye all permits obtained without any environmental investigation 1537 lots.  Additionally the developer was building a road across the lagoons from the east – see pictures below.  The road was stopped by local objection as no plans had been drawn up.

  • August 2009: Developer, still with no plans, dredged a 5 mile access through the center of the islands lagoons to try to continue to build the road.
  • December 2009:  Belize city judge orders San Pedro Town council to be joined in the legal action against the road.
  • February 2010:  Mayor and ACCSD meet to discuss the issues surrounding the building of the road.
  • March 2010: Town board, ACCSD and town board engineer meet continue the discussions.
  • February 2011: ACCSD committee members were given a guided tour of the East/West road by representatives of GBE to show the culverts that the approved plans from the Ministry of works had been installed.Mayan IslandsBuilding and dredging has started even though no environmental clearance has been given.  The Developer has a Youtube video on line showing the development and talking about the dredging and land clearing taking place, even though this is illegal.

Bellcan luxury eco-resort

Public hearing held, consensus is that it is a good project except for the over water cabanas.

Bonefish Bay – Topaz Magic

Just behind Captain Morgans in sensitive wetland ecosystems.  We recently found that Topaz magic have been given a permit to cut 15 acres of mangroves without any environmental study.  They have also received a mining permit to dredge the area.  As of March we have not seen the permit so unsure what acreage it is for.

Ma’loha resort and Marina

Just across the bridge.  planned 150 room hotel and marina.  No permits have been applied for or issued for this project.

Tarpon Bay

As of December 2010 we have been trying to get representatives from Forestry Department to come and have a look at the site at Tarpon Bay in South Beach where mangrove clearing has been done and up to now we have had no success.  Have a look at the attached letter and pics we sent to the Forestry Department.


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