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#382594 - 03/29/07 05:19 AM Villages controlling their own destinies
Marty Online   happy
from a friend...


I don't know about all villages, but some of the areas in which Placencia
Village to have more control of its own destiny (because, ultimately, that's
what this is all about - the ability of people to manage and have some
control over their own environment), include:

1. The ability to have control over development, such as height of
buildings, plumbing, the time when construction can begin in the mornings
(such as not before 7 or 8AM), density, lot coverage, set-backs, dock
construction, proper sanitation, etc.
2. The ability to impose controls on things such as parking, street
vendors, signage, business hours, business location (such as no bars or
discos in residential areas), control of location of fiberglass work, where
boats can dock (moorage control)
3. The ability to impose fines, such as for littering, graffiti, illegal
parking, loitering, weed control in vacant lots, allowing dogs to run free,
pollution of the environment (for example, pouring used oil on the ground,
improper disposal of batteries, burning of trash, etc.), generally
non-compliance with village by-laws
4. The ability to impose leash laws and other animal control measures such
as licensing; regulations about the kind of animals that may be kept in the
village
5. The ability to require boats to use pump-out services rather than
release sewage at sea
6. The ability to license businesses
7. The ability to control special events (size, location, serving of
alcohol, etc.

It also only seems fair that villages, towns and cities share in some of the
taxes they generate, especially property taxes. Personally, I pay a lot of
taxes, and I see very little local return for those taxes. And, it would be
difficult for many people in Placencia to voluntarily contribute MORE over
and above the taxes already levied by the national government.

What is happening now is that people are becoming more demoralized than they
previously were, because we have absolutely no ability to control what is
happening in our own backyards.

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#382595 - 03/29/07 03:17 PM Re: Villages controlling their own destinies [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
First of all, if you're paying a lot of property taxes, you've got the wrong bill. I pay about BZ$100.00 per yr for beachfront. Secondly, some of the items above are under the domain of the DOA and GOB, not only village council, who with power, can sometimes get petty and personal. Careful what you wish for.
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#382596 - 03/29/07 04:25 PM Re: Villages controlling their own destinies [Re: Katie Valk]
Marty Online   happy
comment from another friend

Our village council can't stop a person from building a three-story,
six-unit tourist accommodation on what was identified as a house lot when
the parcel was created. It's my understanding the village can't even
require a building permit, which means no setbacks or parking areas can be
required for new construction.

I agree we need national revenue to support national infrastructure to
connect communities and provide equal services to all citizens as much as
possible. Our village can't provide all the infrastructure we need. Even
if we could, infrastructure such as streets, schools, medical facilities,
to name a few, are not limited to use by current villagers. We are and
should be interconnected and share resources.

Implementation of Village by-laws would not necessisarily require new taxes,
but a few changes in the authority to receive, spend and account for some
existing taxes may be appropriate. I feel a good example of redirection of
existing taxes is the liquor licensing fees. Until two years ago
establishments licensed to sell alcoholic beverages paid their licensing
fees to either central or district government (--not sure which, I don't
sell alcohol.) These licensing fees (in essence a yearly business tax) are
now paid to the village councils and it was a big deal for my village when
we began to receive this revenue.

The national land tax on my village house lot was reduced from $300/yr to
$10-and-change two years ago. It's my impression this national tax
reduction was intended to allow room for villages to assess a reasonable
local property tax without causing owners to pay more. But, without
approved by-laws the village can't asses ANY taxes.


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#382597 - 03/29/07 04:27 PM Re: Villages controlling their own destinies [Re: Marty]
Marty Online   happy
response

There is no overt national policy on development, and if there were, it would need to be specific to each geographic area and devised only after intensive local consultation. Red Bank Village is very different than Placencia Village, which is also very different than Caye Caulker, which is also very different than Roaring Creek Village, etc., etc., etc. (FYI, I firmly believe that there is a COvert national policy on development, and that this policy can be described as "we want as much as we can get now, before we aren't in a position to get any more." And, that's why Placencia Village hasn't been able to get its by-laws passed -- the by-laws would interfere with the "getting any more.")

As to whether villages have the expertise and ability to regulate local development, some do and some don't. Placencia Village definitely does, with residents who have expertise in zoning, subdivision development, construction, environmental issues, etc. Some villages obviously don't have the resources that Placencia Village has, and in those cases, the national government should help (not dictate, but help) those villages come up with a local plan that reflects local culture and priorities. In fact, that was the philosophy behind the Village Council's Act - at least that's why THEY said when the law was passed.

Most importantly, after local and national approval, village by-laws need to be respected and implemented by the national as well as local governments, contrary to what has actually happened in the past.

For example, Placencia and Mango Creek were declared a Special Development Area (SDA) in 1997 under Chapter 188S, Land Utilization Act. Under the power of the SDA, local residents zoned the Placencia Peninsula and the Mango Creek area in terms of what kinds of development could occur in each designated section of the SDA. The section of the SDA where Ara Macao has received permission from the national government to locate its golf course was designated under the SDA as a highly protected area (Reserve II) because of its ecologically sensitive wetlands.

Has anyone paid attention to this nationally endorsed and locally designated regulatory scheme? Absolutely not. In fact, it was never mentioned by the Department of the Environment in its approval of Ara Macao.

I was not aware that property taxes were decreased so that local governments would have latitude to tax locally. That makes a lot of sense, and it would be wonderful if this would actually happen. So many needs - solid and sanitary waste disposal, education for special needs children, adult education, traffic control, building inspections for safety and health issues, road maintenance, designation and maintenance of public rights of way, local water quality, etc., etc., etc.

Also, I understand that liquor licensing fees actually paid to the Placencia Village Council were well under what we should have received, without explanation for the deficiency.


Village Council have NO legal authority to do ANYTHING until village by-laws are passed granting them specific authority. They can attempt to lead, but they have no authority to legally compel.

Therein lies the rub. A village council seems to local residents to be "in charge," but legally, it isn't in charge of anything. No one is, except the national government, and that's not right - the village council is in the hot seat, but can't do anything about anything. Form without substance, as it were.


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