Sat | Jul 24, 2021

Hanover MC throws rogue developers three-month lifeline - Building amnesty aims to restore order and improve revenue stream

Published:Tuesday | November 5, 2019 | 12:05 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Residents and business operators, including hoteliers who have been flouting building regulations in Hanover, have been given three months to get their affairs in order amid an amnesty and a stay of court action until next February.

The Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) building amnesty, which is designed to put an end to unauthorised construction of buildings in the parish, as well as clog a revenue stream that has been leaking profusely, started last Friday and is now on in earnest.

“The programme is a part of our Local Government Month initiative, but it will last for at least three months and will have some special features,” explained David Gardner, the corporation’s CEO.

MILLIONS IN LOSSES

Earlier this year, Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels announced the amnesty after it was brought to his attention that a number of buildings, including hotels, were being constructed without the necessary permits.

Skirting the official permit approval process has not only raised safety concerns but it is also bleeding the local authority of well-needed revenue.

While it is believed the corporation is losing millions as a result of the illegal practice, Gardner could not provide a ballpark figure on estimated losses.

“To be honest, I have no idea,” Gardner told The Gleaner as he expressed hope that errant developers will grasp the opportunity to regularise their construction activities.

At a recent planning and infrastructure meeting, where the matter was discussed extensively, Gardner said a special help desk would be established to assist persons who need help to put themselves into compliance.

HELP DESK

“We will put in a special help desk to be utilised by persons who wish to comply, so there will be an officer placed at the desk to walk persons through the process,” said Gardner.

He said that where necessary, payment plans will be worked out with persons who might need time to pay the building fees.

It is unclear what role the corporation’s Enforcement Department will play as it is currently being shackled by an ongoing investigation. In a recent interview with The Gleaner, Craig Oates, who heads the department, stated that “my hands are tied”, in reference to instructions that his department should not get involved in any projects outside of Lucea, the parish capital.

The HMC said after the three-month amnesty has expired, court action will be taken against persons still in breach of the regulations.

editorial@gleanerjm.com