There is a significant obstacle keeping the Breemhaar family (“Breemhaar’) from building 1500 houses, a resort, and a golf course on Plantation Bolivia (“Bolivia”). Bolivia currently has an “open space” designation under Bonaire’s 2010 Spatial Plan. With this designation, there can be no building of any kind in Bolivia. To eliminate this obstacle, the Government must change the designation of Bolivia from “open space” to a designation that would permit construction.

The environmental effect of development on Bolivia is the most significant issue that must be addressed when considering a change in Bolivia’s zone designation.

Report after report has found that Bolivia has environmental features which are key to Bonaire’s sustainability. According to these reports, if Bolivia is developed, its valuable environmental assets would be destroyed and result in irreparable harm to Bonaire. Yet, notwithstanding these reports, the Government, for reasons that can only be guessed at, is choosing to help Breemhaar in its efforts.

The Government’s first move to help Breemhaar took place in September 2021. At that time, the Government announced that it was authorizing Breemhaar to undertake an environmental impact assessment (“EIA”) in connection with the Government’s proposal to change Bolivia’s zone designation. Many found this decision strange because an EIA is not required to change the designation of a zone. Even so, many were pleased because, it meant, by law, that they would have the chance to comment on the EIA process. Further, the Nature Committee, (“Committee”) an organization authorized by law to advise the Executive Council on environmental matters, could also give its advice about the study. However, when people contacted the Government and expressed interest in the EIA, the Government closed the door on them stating that the EIA which Breemhaar was conducting was “special” and since it was not required by law, the Committee was not entitled to advice, or participate in, the process.

It is plausible that Breemhaar’s EIA will find that the development which it is proposing will have no adverse effect on Bolivia. It is also conceivable that the Government will accept such finding without modification and let it stand as valid. All of this would be accomplished without any involvement of the Committee and as it seems up-till now, without any public input of any kind.

Now it appears that only Bonaire’s Island Council can play in the exclusionary game that the Executive Council is controlling. The Island Council must speak out against the Executive Council and call for a process that, at least, would permit public comment on and Committee advice of a proposal that will, in no uncertain terms, determine Bonaire’s ability to sustain itself.