Owner ponders legal action after debris from suspended Tavistock development drenches property
A MEDICAL doctor whose Jacks Hill, St Andrew home was on Friday drenched with tonnes of debris from a suspended housing development project nearby says he is taking legal advice, amid radio silence from local authorities and the developer on the...
A MEDICAL doctor whose Jacks Hill, St Andrew home was on Friday drenched with tonnes of debris from a suspended housing development project nearby says he is taking legal advice, amid radio silence from local authorities and the developer on the catastrophe.
The University Hospital of the West Indies consultant, who asked not to be identified, has lived at the property on Ridgeway Terrace in the upper St Andrew community for five years and said that he has never experienced the horror brought on by the clearing of the hillside behind it.
That hillside is located along Tavistock Terrace, the road that has been at the centre of a quarrel between Jacks Hill residents and housing developers, two of whose projects have either damaged or blocked the thoroughfare.
Heavy rains associated with a potential cyclone that lashed the island Thursday into Saturday last week which dumped debris from the development, which was hit with a stop order in June by the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation, on to the roadway and the property below.
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has also confirmed in an emailed response to The Gleaner that a cessation order under the Natural Resources Conservation Act and Stop Notices under the Town & Country Planning Act was cited against the developer re lot 488 Barbican Heights Tavistock Terrace.
The property is owned by St Lucia-registered company CONNECT 4 INC, whose director is businessman Peter Azar.
NEPA said that the developer was cited for “commencement of land preparation without the required approvals”.
The agency also said that the developer was also written to, highlighting the geological concerns and to request geotechnical/soil investigation reports for review prior to the making of a final determination on the applications.
Those geological concerns are also shared by the doctor, who indicated that his current situation occurred only after the hillside was cut.
“We’ve never had problems with rain before, except for house leaking. Friday night, the rains came, and we don’t know what happened exactly, but about 10 p.m. was when we realised that there was a river in our backyard,” the man said.
“Mud, silt, and then when we looked, we saw the river flowing around the pool, covering two rooms, covering the lawn with just mud and silt going out through the gates and on to the road below us,” he added.
He told The Gleaner that only minutes before, his gardener had left his room for food when it became inundated with the debris.
“He would have died if he was there,” the man said.
Representatives from the Mines and Geology Division, who examined the property, placed the mud and silt at four feet high.
They noted that the damage to the hillside and road, which sit on a fault line, was worse than they imagined.
The Mines and Geology Division is the state agency versed in hillside development. Approvals are sought from the division by other state agencies responsible for granting building permits.
At least two vehicles became immobile because of the collapsed hillside.
One hung over the partially collapsed Tavistock Terrace into the doctor’s backyard.
“That’s when we knew the real extent of the damage,” he said.
Yesterday, cleanup efforts were under way at the property, the cost of which, the man said, is being borne by him and his family.
He told The Gleaner that several attempts to reach the relevant personnel from the National Works Agency, the KSAMC, the member of parliament, and councillor have been unsuccessful.
“There has been silence. Nobody has come. We have contacted them every day and we’ve heard nothing,” he said.
“We know with further rainfall, more [of the hillside] will be coming down on us, so we’re trying to find out what can be done to stop it or divert it. We also have to seek legal advice, but at the moment, I am the one who has to pay for all of this and we’ll have to look at insurance. But I don’t know who is accountable,” he added.
The KSAMC, which, in recent years, has drawn heavy criticism from several sectors, including environmentalists, over housing development approvals, has not responded to a Gleaner request for information on the conditions under which multifamily dwellings are permitted to take place in Jacks Hill.