Yesterday we introduced you to the Valladarez family from Belmopan who have worked for almost a year on putting together their small business, a boutique at the corner of MountainView Boulevard and Hummingbird Avenue.
According to Proprietor Abner Valladares, it was months of frustrating negotiations with Belmopan City Council to bring the building to compliance but they finally got approval in January.
On Wednesday 23rd April, the wooden structure was brought to Belmopan to be placed on the property. However within minutes of arrival, Council officials arrived on scene and told Valladares they could not proceed with placing the structure.
Today Audrey Matura Shepherd, attorney for the Valladares family, met with Mayor Simeon Lopez. After the meeting, Plus News met up with her at the location on Mountainview Bouelvard.
She agreed to give us an update on their progress in negotiating with the council. According to Matura, upon being contacted by the Valladarez family, she says she went directly to research the law to see what it says bout the council’s authority in these matters.
“There is a subsidiary law as well, and I had to see of the council has any basis to do what they were doing and, you know, lo and behold, the law reveals that the council has no legal authority to do what they did yesterday. They have no say over building approvals or what kind of building or anything. The law is clear. It is just like the Belize City Councilor where they charge on streets, drains parks, slaughterhouses, fences and stuff like that. So, I wrote the mayor on behalf of my client and brought it to the attention that they are acting beyond their power, it is illegal, and I also brought to the attention that the treatment of towards my client is very discriminatory. Also what is important to know is that we don’t want to people to leave the impression that the Valladares Family tried to act illegal. They went through a process of approval through the building authority. They went through whatever city council told them to do- they did that. Of course, they didn’t know either that the council had no power to do that. The only entity that has some power over buildings in this city is RECONDEV. I want the residents of Belmopan to learn that when the council makes a move, go check the law, man, this is the public. People don’t like to go read the law and see that many things the council is doing right now, not only in Belmopan. In Belize City is illegal. I fit is not in the law, they can’t do anything”.
At the meeting held this afternoon at City Council Headquarters, Matura says that upon asking on what basis the Council decided to revoke the approval, Mayor Lopez told Shepherd the decision was made in consultation with the Area representative John Saldivar.
He also added that residents in the area were against it. Matura says when she asked to see the petition from residents, Mayor Lopez stated that he was in the process of getting one. The Belmopan City Council has asked for time to look into the matter legally as it pertains to their legal authority to stop the development.
But Miss Matura says, she believes all that is immaterial to the greater issue. We noted that the property which contained the wooden structure yesterday is now bare; the structure had been removed. Attorney at Law Matura says permission was never given to remove the property and that both the Belmopan City Council and the Belmopan Police have acted outside of the Law.
Audrey Matura Shepherd: “My client never gave a permission to move the property. I brought that to the attention of the mayor that what has happened is a theft because they have no right to remove it because he didn’t give power or right to remove it, he didn’t give permission and the police were involved. I have since written a letter to the Commissioner of Police, bringing it to his attention that the police were involved in an illegal act, and that they have to address it. I am hoping that the commissioner takes it seriously because, you know, under the rule of law, it would necessary mean that this gentleman would have been go to the police and say “help me, they are stealing my property”; I didn’t give them permission to move it from there”.
Yesterday, we told you that ironically, as the discussion ensued on the street beside the wooden structure, another delivery of a wooden structure passed slowly by and headed on its way to a location also within Belmopan on the same Mountain View Boulevard. Today we visited the location and spoke to Oscar, a Chinese Belizean, the owner of the wooden structure.
In his yard we found 3 wooden structures. He told us that it took him only two months to get his wooden residential structure approved by the City Council, that it was rather expensive, and that they told him he would have no problems at all. He added that wooden structures are all over Belmopan.