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People's Report | Has the Portmore Municipal Council gone fishing?

Published:Saturday | May 21, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Leon Thomas, acting mayor of Portmore.

WILBIG

wilbig@cwjamaica.com

The Portmore Municipal Council was established 13 years ago. And, based on the nature of its operations, I doubt whether its mandate has changed over the 13 years.

Did the entity fall down on the job, and is it now trying to regulate things that should have long been done? Why do I ask this question? Someone faxed me a letter left in her grilled gate by the Compliance and Enforcement Department. This letter speaks of the entity's awareness that additions have been done to the original unit, but its records did not reflect an approval from the council.

I find it strange that the letter did not bear the name of the owner of the premises. It merely had the lot number in ink, bearing no signature, and what appears to be a photocopy of a stamp from the council.

Yes, the property has additions, but it was purchased approximately 15 years ago from the original owners with the additions - save for some internal structural changes that she did. One must also be mindful that this residential area must have been 40 to 50 years old, and there is hardly any property in its original state. I also made a check with another friend in one of the older communities and he, too, came home and saw a note stuck in his gate.

So, what is the modus operandi of the council? The letter closes with a threat that "further action will be taken" if the person is unable to submit a building plan or drawings within 14 days.

 

WHY NOW?

 

What has prompted this action? Is the council short on revenue and is trying to fill the gap "by any means necessary"? What if the person is unable to locate plans for constructions done many, many years ago? Most persons, to avoid the clutter of unnecessary paper, no longer hold on to documents where the statute of limitations applies.

I ask the council what was in place for approval when those earlier schemes were constructed? And is it the council's hope that second purchasers must now submit plans for construction not done by them or of which they have no clue when it was done.

I believe in regulations and enforcement of regulations, but the Portmore Municipal Council, I submit, rather than going on a wild-goose chase, you must conduct proper research in your offices before hitting the road. You must be able to identify the property owners and personalise your "threat for action". Accordingly, the council needs to also look at the date properties changed hands - if they did. This, I believe, would narrow down your chase.

But, most important, Portmore Municipal Council, enforcement is immediate - not retroactive!