Beach chair war in Oyster Pond

POSTED: 02/5/15 7:44 PM

St. Maarten – Judge Maria Paulides will rule on a dispute about the beach in Oyster Pond that has been dragging on for years. The parties involved are Low Road to Heaven (Busby’s beach Bar), Laissez-Faire (The Great House) and Pearl Development (Oyster Bay Beach Resort).

The representative of Laissez Faire, Hedy Cockx, told the court that Busby’s Beach Bar has been renting out beach chairs on this beach for twenty years, with permission from Laissez Faire.

The land on which the beach bar and Laissez Faire’s Great House stand belong to Laissez Faire and it leases a part of it to Low Road to Heaven.

According to Cockx, Pearl Development obtained a permit to place 130 chairs on the beach. She noted that Low Road to Heaven is allowed to use the beach in front of the bar and in front of Laissez Faire’s small apartment complex. “The permit was given to Pearl in 2008; Laissez Faire does not have a permit and it has not requested one either,” she said.

A letter from the island territory of St. Maarten to the then attorney for Laissez Faire, Jairo Bloem (dated February 1, 2010) declared founded the objection against the decision to allow Pearl Development to place an additional 80 beach chairs and 40 parasols on the beach. This number of chairs would infringe on the space Busby’s Beach Bar has been using for years for its chairs.

The attorney for Pearl Development, Douwe Boersema, told the court that the minister of Vromi had sent his client a letter, stating that the decision of 2012 – to grant the permit – would remain in place.

“The court has ruled that that decree cannot stand,” Judge Paulides told the attorney. “The minister cannot keep a decision in place that has been voided by the court. You have to explain to the minister that a decision that has been voided by the court cannot be maintained.”

Judge Paulides noted that, by ignoring the court ruling from 2012, the state has forfeited $100,000 and 200,000 guilders in penalties. “What is so difficult about taking a decision about the request from Low Road to Heaven to place beach chairs on that beach?” she asked. “All this money is just wasted.”

Cockx pointed out that Low Road to Heaven has been renting out beach chairs since 1996. From 2003 to 2008 this practice was condoned by the island territory.

Boersema noted that Pearl Development has a business license that includes offering services on the beach, like renting out beach chairs. “Laissez Fair does not have such a permit,” he said.

“Here is another mega hotel that is taking away the beach from local entrepreneurs,” Cockx complained. “Low Road to Heaven makes its chairs available to everyone. Pearl’s chairs are only for its guests.”

Judge Paulides, who earlier suggested that both parties would have to give in somewhat, warned that she would give the minister of Vromi some time to take a decision and if that would not be forthcoming, she would impose new penalties.

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