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Westmoreland builders granted amnesty amid spike in illegal construction

Published:Saturday | April 13, 2019 | 12:00 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Bertel Moore


The Westmoreland Municipal Corporation has declared a 47-day amnesty to allow persons building residential homes without the relevant permits to seek approval without penalties.

The amnesty period of April 15 to May 31 was declared at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the corporation in light of an increase in illegal construction in the parish.

Speaking with The Gleaner, Savanna-la-Mar Mayor Bertel Moore said: “We have a lot of illegal buildings going up, and when you look at places like Egypt Gardens, McNeill Land, even Whitehall, it’s happening in several places all over the parish. We are seeking to bring them on to the legal platform.”

He said that some property owners have made no effort to seek approval for construction.

“What we’re seeing is that there are some buildings going up in these areas, and they’re not submitting any plans whatsoever. One of the problems is that they don’t have the necessary papers (land titles) to submit, so we’re working out a way that if they don’t have a land title, they can get a letter from a lawyer to state how long they are living there, and then they can submit their plans,” said Moore, who is chairman of the corporation.

He noted that some persons are now living on lands that were previously owned by the West Indies Sugar Company (WISCO) and that all they require to claim ownership are land titles.

“Some of these areas – Egypt Gardens, for instance – were property that belonged to WISCO some years ago, but now the people in there are without their titles. It’s theirs. They have paid for it, but they haven’t received a title as yet, so in order for us to approve their plans, we will be using that (a letter from their lawyer) to do it,” said Moore.

During the amnesty period, persons who are now building without permits will not be penalised once they make contact with the municipal corporation. However, if anyone refuses to utilise the amnesty period, all necessary administrative fees would be applied thereafter.