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#463220 - 04/27/13 11:15 AM Little Iguana Caye’s unsanctioned development
Marty Offline

The Prince and Little Iguana Caye’s unsanctioned development

Officials of the Department of the Environment were in San Pedro Ambergris Caye this week to assess dredging activities taking place near the San Pedro Marina Channel for which a stop order was imposed. While conducting site inspection, they ran into another development project; this one located at Little Iguana Caye also off San Pedro. But lo and behold, there is no paper trial on this development which started smack in a reserve. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

This tiny, mangrove-covered islet some ten miles northwest of Ambergris Caye, is one of several in a string of islands that have been designated as habitat for various species of aquatic birds.  It remains completely unpopulated, save for the dozens of red ibises that nest atop the dense vegetation.  Aroma Caye is an unspoiled sanctuary for avian life.  Adjacent is another small island called Little Iguana Caye.  This too was a nature reserve until it was sold off under the previous administration.  Development has begun here, albeit without the consent of the Department of the Environment.

Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer, DOE

Martin Alegria

“In the case of Little Iguana Caye there is no file.  There is no application, there is nothing in our office regarding that undertaking.  However, during the site visit again conducted, we realized that construction has started, I understand, of a two-story, over-the-water structure which is even more of an issue in terms of development, you know.”

The property, roughly an acre and half in size, belongs to James Prince.  An unspecified tonnage of sand has since been reclaimed as landfill and work on developing the island was underway until it was recently discovered that the titleholder had foregone all requisite clearances.

Martin Alegria

“We issued a stop order, a verbal right away because we don’t know anything about it.  I don’t know if other agencies know about it.”

Isani Cayetano

“Do you know who the principals are for that development?”

Martin Alegria

“I understand there’s a real estate agent or agency that is behind it, purporting to act on behalf of the owner of the island.  Those are the information that we are gathering to get the facts in order to see what can be done in accordance with the legislation.  However, the fact remains that we didn’t know and from the team that went nobody knew anything was happening and no application has been done with us at least, yet construction is happening in a sensitive ecosystem.”

The cluster of islands surrounding Ambergris Caye is prime real estate, owned mostly by foreigners.  The island and its outer environs have become boomtown for tourism and development.  This area is ideal for flat fishing and as such attracts anglers from all over.  Unlike Royal Belizean Land, Prince commenced improvement on his property without taking into consideration the sensitivity of the reserve.

Isani Cayetano

“What are the sanctions that can be brought against this particular landowner?”

Martin Alegria

“It depends on the type of development.  You know, if it’s a small development like what we were referring to previously or if it’s a medium-sized or a huge multi-faceted project with various components or if it is in a sensitive area ecologically speaking or non-sensitive area, what permits or licenses they have applied for an gotten prior to starting construction with us or from other agencies.  Those are the information which determine what type of charges can be brought upon them but again prior to going to court we’d like to look at that as the last resort when we don’t have any cooperation from anyone, be it one side or the other.”

In this case, Alegria says legal action will be brought against the owner for failing to notify the relevant government agencies of the plan to develop Little Iguana Caye.

Martin Alegria

“It’s looking at what is being proposed; what the damage if any has been done already—because that’s another implication in terms of financial charges of damage to environment and procedural charges in terms of not having complied with certain things.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Channel 5


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#463235 - 04/27/13 01:31 PM Re: Little Iguana Caye’s unsanctioned development [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
Fines for this are miniscule compared to enhanced value of the reclaimed land. Many are willing to move forward and if caught, pay the fine and laugh. Increased fines reflecting the real long term damages to the ecosystem and jail time would wipe the smile of their faces and make others think before doing the same
_________________________
Belize based travel specialist
www.belize-trips.com
info@belize-trips.com

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#463694 - 05/05/13 10:40 AM Re: Little Iguana Caye’s unsanctioned development [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Little Iguana Caye project halted

Department of the Environment (DOE), while on inspection at a dredging site near San Pedro Town, were informed of a project on Little Iguana Caye. The tiny, mangrove-covered islet is located ten miles northwest of Ambergris Caye and is one of several small islets that form a string of islands that have been designated as habitat for various species of birds. However, it appears development was in full gear and by all accounts from the various government ministries, it was an unsanctioned development and as such a stop order was issued. The verbal stop order was given on Thursday April 25th.

While Little Iguana Caye is home to hundreds of red ibises that nest atop the dense vegetation, it is privately owned. But that does not exempt the property owners from going through the proper channels to develop the property – and that was what DOE has maintained. Martin Alegria, Chief Environmental Officer at the DOE says that the different government agencies were unaware of the development. “In the case of Little Iguana Caye there is no file. There is no application; there is nothing in our office regarding that undertaking. However, during the site visit again conducted, we realized that construction has started; I understand, it is a two-story, over-the-water structure which is even more of an issue in terms of development, you know. We issued a stop order, a verbal [order] right away because we don’t know anything about it. I don’t know if other agencies know about it.”


The property which is about an acre and half in size belongs to James Prince, but was being developed by locals on Ambergris Caye. According to Alegria, an unspecified tonnage of sand was already dredged and used as landfill. In addition, work on developing the island was underway and included an over-the-water structure. “I understand there’s a real estate agent or agency that is behind it, purporting to act on behalf of the owner of the island. That is the information that we are gathering to get the facts in order to see what can be done in accordance with the legislation. However, the fact remains that we didn’t know and of the team that went, nobody knew anything was happening. No application has been done with us at least, and yet construction is happening in a sensitive ecosystem,” detailed Alegria.

It is uncertain what will be the sanction that will be imposed. Alegria said that sanctions will depend on a number of factors including the amount of damage, the sensitivity of the area and the way current development may affect the future of the environment. “We are looking at what is being proposed; what is the damage-if any that has been done already—because that’s another implication in terms of financial charges of damage to environment and procedural charges in terms of not having complied with certain procedures.”

DOE says legal action will be brought against the owner for failing to notify the relevant government agencies of the plan to develop Little Iguana Caye.

San Pedro Sun


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