Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Municipal corporation gets tough on building breaches

Published:Wednesday | July 15, 2020 | 12:14 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

After a twice-extended amnesty, the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) has said it will be adopting a zero-tolerance approach to persons who have failed to address building breaches.

The amnesty was introduced on November 1, 2019, and was initially slated to last for three months, ending on January 31. It was introduced against the background of what was looking like a free-for-all in constructions across the parish as several buildings, including fairly large hotels, were undertaking construction projects without the necessary approvals from the HMC and in other cases, deviating from the architectural drawings approved by the corporation.

By the end of January, the interest shown and inquiries made by persons and organisations who were in breach, prompted Sophia Kerr-Reid, the director of planning at the HMC, following consultation with David Gardner, the corporation’s chief executive officer, to ask for an extension of the amnesty until March 31.

The advent of the COVID-19 in March saw a number of regulations and protocols being put in place, which involved a halt on construction activities, among other things. In May, with efforts being made to open up the economy in a timely manner, Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels, the chairman of the HMC, announced that the HMC was reopened for business, prompting a resumption of the amnesty period.

At the time, Gardener told The Gleaner that despite the fact that the deadline had passed for the ending of the amnesty, the pandemic was taken into consideration and the HMC decided to accommodate interested investors under the amnesty offerings.

With a record number of building applications being submitted to the municipal corporation in June 2020 for approval, Gardener told last week’s monthly meeting of the HMC that a decision was taken to end the amnesty at the end of June.

“Earlier this week, we met and put a team together, and the team has already gone out. We have gotten reports that several enforcement notices have been served. We will be moving in all divisions, and we are willing to go as far as taking persons to court, we are willing to pursue demolition orders if it becomes necessary; so we are not going to stop, we will be going forward,” Gardner said, in explaining the way forward.

KERR