Placencia Village council claims GOB playing politics with scarce community land

Plus news has been highlighting progress and challenges that the Village of Placencia have been facing over recently years and today we bring you a last in a series of those stories. The Placencia Village Council recently sent out a press release concerning at 31 lot distribution which took place last month just north of the Placencia Airport. Charles Leslie Jr. tells us more.

Charles Leslie Jr – Placencia’s Village Chairman:
vlcsnap-2013-04-11-20h04m56s86There was a land distribution in Placencia in last month. There was a 31 lot distribution just north of the Placencia Airport. In January 2012 we met with them and former Minister Melvin Hulse. where we were talking about the Crimson Development, and how we can move forward with developing Phase Two and Phase Three,  At that meeting he informed us that they found a portion land that won’t need developing, in the same area, but he was unable to give us any further information at that point, because he never had it, according to him. The Placencia Village Council found out because myself and members have been bombarded by people from the community, asking like “What’s going on with this land.  I hear people are getting land, and you guys didn’t have a public meeting.”  We we’re like “We don’t know what’s going on.”

Thing is, this distribution was not carried out the elected body of Placencia; being the Village Council. The incident caused the elected body to investigate the queries being brought to them where they discovered the following.

Charles Leslie Jr – Placencia’s Village Chairman:
So we investigated, and we found out that just before the General Elections it was used as a political stunt.  Key people from the community were promised vlcsnap-2013-04-11-20h05m15s14land, and [it’s] my understanding they got leases to those lands.  We as a Village Council issued a Press Release saying we’re not upset that people locally got the land.  It could have gone to one person instead of 31 people. What we’re upset with is the fact that we weren’t informed. We’re the elected body in the community under the Village Council Act.  It is our job legally to inform the community of what’s going on, especially when it comes to land distribution.  Also the Village Council Act gives us the power and autonomy to create a Placencia Lots Committee.  The Ministry of Lands is obligated under the Village Council Act to inform, by writing, the Placencia Village Council, or any council in this country.  After that, once we’re informed, we take it to the public, have a public meeting, so that we have transparency.

Leslie says that giving out lots in this way and not acting in an above-board manner only causes further discord between the resident villages and the city council. As a politically appointed committee was given permission to give out the parcels and now they are left to rectify the chaos.

Charles Leslie Jr – Placencia’s Village Chairman:  
Once we made mention of the public meeting, I would have personally called a special public meeting, and inform everybody that we’ve done our best to send out this information and disseminate it in the community, just so vlcsnap-2013-04-11-20h05m27s167everybody knew what was going on.  Now these lands were distributed, and what happened is that the people who never knew are upset at the Village Council, and they’re upset at the people who got. The Press Release made it clear [that] what this does is to create further division, further animousity, within communities.  I will say here publicly, that I completely, completely deny, reject, and I do not recognize any politically appointed committee, such as what the UDP is doing right now throughout the country, setting up their own committees to function outside of the Village Council.  That is illegal.  It’s not supported by the Village Council Act, and again it creates animosity and division.

in addition to the discord being caused; Leslie says that some of the land owners are already turning around and selling off the lots to potential investors as there is no light, water or proper infrastructure within the area for them to develop the plots, which is something that his council is trying to curb.

Charles Leslie Jr – Placencia’s Village Chairman:  
My understanding is that some people who got land are already selling the land to foreigners.  That’s one of the key issues we have when distributing land in Placencia.  Giving someone a piece of land is literally almost giving them gold, because it becomes valuable like that.  You can sell a lease in Placancia for a piece of land for a lot of money.  People will pay for it. They’ll pay the purchase price because it’s a Belizean that got it, and a Belizean will get a nice good purchase price, and then once they get the property, that piece of property then becomes extremely valuable, extremely fast.

The release sent out by the Village council ends by saying “the Council is pleased that these lots were distributed to 31 Villagers and not to one person or entity.  However, we are the legally elected representatives of the people of Placencia, and the Council, whomever it may be made up of, should be respected as the highest authority within the Placencia Village constituency, and all Village Councils, country wide should realize their authority.”

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