Building Permit for Sunset Beach Resort causes serious rift on Bonaire’s Executive Council

KRALENDIJK- The potential approval of a building permit request is causing a big rift on Bonaire’s Island Council. The rift follows an advice from the Space & Development department of the Public Entity an approval for construction of a hotel with five building layers at the Sunset Beach property is ultimately a decision of the Executive Council, based on what the Council finds ‘desirable’. 

Until now, only building permits for buildings with maximum four building layers have been granted. Granting of the building permit requested by Sunset Beach Resort would not only see a much higher level of construction than is deemed desirable on the island, but also the fitting of more unites on a relatively small property. Another danger is that the granting of this particular permit, could also cause a precedent making it hard -if not impossible- to deny any other future permits requesting to construct a building with four layers. 

The conflict is caused by the fact that MPB-commissioners Hennyson Thielman and Nina den Heyer do not consider the granting of the building permit to be consistent with the vision outlined by the same Executive Council for a smaller and more exclusive type of tourism on the island. 

With all this in mind, Thielman and Den Heyer last week voted against the granting of the requested permit, while commissioner James Kroon and island Governor Rijna voted pro the granting of the permit. While this means that in first instance there was no majority on the Council for the proposed building permit in a subsequent voting round the granting of the permit could be ‘pushed through’, as the island Governor’s vote in cases like these count for 2. 


What has irked off commissioners Thielman and Den Heyer is that there is no majority of elected officials on the Executive Council in favour of the granting of the building permit, but that Rijna, as appointed official, seems intent on pushing the granting of the building permit through. 

It is still fresh on resident’s mind that just recently there was another big issue regarding the granting of a permit for the construction of an artificial beach at the new Chogogo Resort, after it had already been constructed. Observers point out that at the time Commissioner Kroon came the Governor Rijna’s rescue in voting for the granting of the permit in hindsight, and that Rijna backing up Kroon now with the granting of the controversial building permit  would be a sort of a political payback. 


Rijna’s stance on the issue can be deemed highly peculiar, as the Island Governor has at various times spoken out against an over-development of the island. Last year Rijna in a Dutch newspaper even stated that the island was ‘prostituting itself’ to investors for the sake of tourism. However, it is the same Governor who each time casts a deciding vote pro large scale projects on the island, leading to many raised eyebrows. 

Thielman and Den Heyer are of the opinion that the Tourism Recovery Plan clearly favours the construction of smaller resorts and boutique hotels over large scale resorts or development. Both commissioners have now drawn a line in the sand, and will not accept the pushing through of the vote on the building permit for Sunset Beach Resort. 

Should the vote still be pushed through by Kroon and Rijna, despite the serious objections on the side of the MPB-commissioners, chances are very real that both commissioners may tender their resignation before the end of this week, leading to a full-fledged crisis in Local Government. It will be very interesting to see if the MPB party will back up their commissioners, or will simply appoint new commissioners in their place for the sake of continuity of Government. Political Stability has been one of the mantras of MPB party leader Elvis Tjin Asjoe, who the last few days was notably absent in all the bruhaha surrounding the controversial building permit. 

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