In April 2014, PlusNews covered the story of Abner Valladares and his run in with the Belmopan City Council, when he attempted to place a wooden structure on his private property on Mountain View Boulevard, a commercial area of the capital.
Mr Valladares told PlusNews back then that he had gotten the approval of the City Council after going through a lengthy process of negotiations, but when he was attempting to finally settle the building on the land, he was stopped by the City Council who had the wooden structure removed, saying that wooden buildings were not allowed in Belmopan.
Abner Valladares sued the council and won his case. According to Court documents we obtained, the total settlement payable by the Belmopan City Council to Mr Valladares and his associates for the unlawful removal of his property is $26,000, separate from the City Council’s own legal fees. The courts also instructed the City Council to use its best efforts to find another location for the Valladares family to place their structure for business.
However, according to Abner Valladares’ attorney, the Belmopan City Council has refused to follow that consent order.
“[The Council] in the Consent Orders said that they would do their best effort to help my client rent or find a suitable property in Belmopan, from the Council, so that he can erect his wooden structure.
My client followed through with the Mayor and said, “There’s this court order. I want you to be able to ensure to me that you have found a place, and you would help me find a place.’
And, sadly, the Mayor, against the court orders, said ‘No. I’m not going to do it.’
Instead, there’s a provision in the order that, if after all efforts you cannot find a location, my client would be paid the cost of having the building moved to whichever location he wanted. My client still hasn’t found ant location.”
While the City Council has had difficulty in allowing private citizen Abner Valladares to place his wooden structure on his own private land, there is apparently no issue in allowing another citizen to place a privately owned wooden structure on public land, a green zone at that too.
On Wednesday we told you about the concerns raised over the wooden structure going up in the Market Square area, that is supposed to be marked as a green zone. Alarms were raised because the nature of the structure appears to be intended for private commerce, and sources say the owner is from within City Hall.
Audrey Matura-Shepherd also commented on that on Thursday, saying that it comes across as hypocrisy.
“However now we see, ironically, on the news, that in Belmopan in an area that is far more exposed that the place where my client had wanted to put his little building, because he has given someone a location in an open green space right in the center of Belmopan, given that person permission to build a wooden structure. To me that reeks of double-standard.”
As we told you yesterday, Senator Patrick Andrews , PUP Standard Bearer for the Belmopan Constituency, has since e-mailed a letter to the Central Building Authority, requesting them to address the matter and issue a stop order until concerns have been addressed.