Westin has to reduce noise levels of its sewage treatment plantPOSTED: 04/16/12 1:07 PM
Dawn Beach resident wins lawsuit against hotel giant
St. Maarten – The Babitbay Beach Development Corporation, owner of the Westin Hotel in Dawn Beach, has until Friday May 11 to adjust its sewage treatment plant in such a way that the sound levels the installation produces remain within the limits set in its hindrance permit. Michael Roger, a Dawn Beach resident whose house stands eighty meters away from the noisy installation, won this verdict against the Westin in summary proceedings on Friday. The company has to pay more than $4,000 to Rogers as compensation for the costs of sound level tests and the costs of a bailiff.
The court ruling is a victory of David over Goliath, Rogers’ attorney Mr. Cor Merx said. Almost two years ago, on June 15, 2010 the court ordered an expert report in a lawsuit by the Dawn Beach Estate Foundation against the Westin. This report should have answered the question whether the Westin’s sewage treatment plant was violating the sound levels permitted in its hindrance permit. The report was never written.
Rogers then contracted Cege Caribbean NV, the Curacao-based Civil, Environmental and
Geotechnical Engineer Caribbean company to conduct sound level tests in the vicinity of his house in Dawn Beach.
The hindrance permit allows different sound levels for the hours between seven in the morning and seven in the evening, for seven until eleven at night and for the hours between eleven at night and seven in the morning. Cege engineers found that “during all tests the sound levels were higher than the maximum.”
Rogers summoned the Westin on January 11 to make the necessary adjustments to the installation to bring the sound levels within the permitted maximum. On February 21, bailiff Patrick went to the location at Rogers’ request. In his report, Patrick wrote that he was “confronted with an irritating sound that continuously kept vibrating in his ears.” He measured sound levels that were at all times above the permitted maximum.
Rogers told the court that the sound nuisance is seriously disturbing his comfort of living: he even hears the “ear-shattering noise” when he has his doors and windows closed.
Westin maintained that it does not violate the sound level standards during the day, but admitted that the installation exceeds those standards slightly during the evening and the night.
“It is however not the intention to run the installation in the evening and during the night,” the company stated.
During the hearing on March 30, Rogers told the court that he lived in his house with the hurricane shutters closed because the noise is unbearable otherwise. He also said that he had to move his terrace to the other side of his house to be able to sit comfortably outside and that one of his children had to move to another bedroom to be able to sleep. Judge Mr. Didier Thierry accepted these statements as credible and convincing.
Judge Thierry noted that the Westin had not sent a representative to the court hearing to present “a different vision, alternative measuring results or even different results from visits to other residents in the vicinity.
“This sufficiently establishes Rogers’ vision that the Westin – even after being presented with the Cege report – does not really bother about the noise nuisance.”
The court sentenced the Westin to make adjustments to the noisy installation within four weeks. For every time the company does not abide by the ruling it has to pay Rogers $500 in damages with a maximum of $50, 000.