SEMF Director Walter Hellebrand with verdict
ORANJESTAD, St Eustatius -- The St Eustatius Monuments Foundation (SEMF) has won its appeal at the Joint Court of Aruba, Curacao, St Maarten and of Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba in their case against the island’s spatial development plan as adopted by its Island Council.
The case of the SEMF is principally against the amendment facility in the spatial development plan that enables a decision to construct a new oil terminal on the town side of Signal Hill to be rushed through by the Executive Council. The judge of the Court of First Instance previously ruled that the case was inadmissible as in his opinion the SEMF could not be affected by a possibility but only if use was made of that possibility. This decision has now been declared null and void.
B.G. Hofman of Bermon Law Office represented the St Eustatius Island Council. As an interested third party, NuStar Terminals NV had also been asked to appear. They were represented by T.J. Leijsen of law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne. The director of the Monuments Foundation, Walter Hellebrand, handled the case himself.
The two lawyers repeated the arguments they had used in the lower court. They failed to convince the Joint Court. However, representing the Foundation himself, Hellebrand took the opportunity to argue that the very amendment facility itself affects the state of the island's heritage and safety as it enables a quick, low profile procedure for the most impactful part of the entire spatial development plan.
Instead of a careful process with proper information sessions for the general public and opportunities for active involvement and participation, it only requires for the decision of the Executive Council to be available for public consultation for a period of 15 days. In his plea, Hellebrand highlighted the harmful effects of the possibility itself. The verdict of the Joint Court reads: “His plea is successful.”
The Joint Court ordered that the case will have to be dealt with by the court in first instance in its entirety once again.
The SEMF is opposed to allowing a new oil terminal south of Signal Hill as it will be too close to Oranjestad, impacting on the monumental aspect of the historic core, constituting an unacceptable risk, as well as destroying 17 monuments including the burials and plantation cemetery of Benners that contains six of the seven oldest dated tomb stones of St Eustatius.
The SEMF was founded in 1990 for the protection, renovation and reconstruction of all the historical cultural goods on the island of St Eustatius. It has since then campaigned and worked to preserve the material heritage of the island's rich past.