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Mayor wants to split KSAMC Planning Dept

Published:Friday | January 14, 2022 | 12:10 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter

In the wake of public condemnation of its oversight breaches and the interdiction of senior officials, Mayor Delroy Williams has proposed an overhaul of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation’s (KSAMC) Planning Department into two units...

In the wake of public condemnation of its oversight breaches and the interdiction of senior officials, Mayor Delroy Williams has proposed an overhaul of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation’s (KSAMC) Planning Department into two units for greater efficiency.

The proposal, which was submitted to Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie earlier this month, is expected to strengthen the corporation’s inspection regime in the approval and enforcement of building permits.

In a letter dated January 3, which was addressed to McKenzie and seen by The Gleaner, Williams suggested that the current set-up of the department has contributed to the dereliction of duty by some employees.

According to Williams, the planning department is one of the municipality’s most important administrative arms but currently has no proper structure on the official establishment.

He said that the positions of director of planning and secretary are recorded but that there are no other supporting positions.

“Consequently, positions attached to [the] chief engineer’s department, in particular, that of field officers, have been used to accommodate the functions and, thereby, depriving the chief engineer’s department of needed staff. This has impacted the KSAMC’s building inspections and enforcement capability,” Williams said in the letter.

He said that KSAMC processes approximately 1,000 development applications each year, adding that data show that there has been an increase in the number of multi-family developments.

However, the staff complement of the planning department has not been increased to keep pace with planning-related matters, especially breaches of the Town & Country Planning Act, Williams said.

The letter said that the department currently consists of the director of planning, an urban planner (contracted), a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technician (contracted), three field officers (contracted), two planning officers (contracted), a records clerk, an AMANDA database and technical support officer (contracted), and a secretary.

“These members are tasked with executing all relevant functions. Consequently, areas such as forecasting, plan preparation, and enforcement of the planning laws have not been afforded adequate attention due to the volume of work associated with application processing and implementation and operationalisation of the AMANDA system,” the mayor said, adding that enforcement requires intensive monitoring.

It is being proposed that the department comprise a director of planning and sustainable development with an executive secretary and two units.

These would include a Sustainable Planning, Implementation & Monitoring Unit with a senior urban planner, a planning technician, two GIS technicians, a local economic development officer and a secretary, while the Development Applications Management Unit would comprise a senior planner, four planning technicians, an AMANDA database and technical support officer, and a records clerk.

kimone.francis@gleanerjm.com