Land Dilemma: Public Beach vs Private Beach

There is an ongoing land dispute on Ambergris Caye that has been brewing since 2009 surrounding a beach. The complainant in this case is August “Gus” Tabony, the owner of a prime land just a few yards away from the portion of beach in question. Tabony’s problem is that a private developer is using the beach for private use and he will not stand for it. He sought an injunction against the developer back in 2009 and attempted to seek another one today.  Tabony, explained why he is seeking an injunction on Reef Village Estate Limited and other parties…


“We feel that this is a private use of the public right away and that it is damaging the seawall and they’ve destroyed our pier and the defendants just claimed that they have the unlimited use of the seafront in front of our property which we are claiming because of repairing and rights to the seafront, that is why we buy seafront property is to have the use and the access to the sea that it is a violation of my rights to that part of the property. There are some issues here, as to what is a private use as to a public use because yes, the public has the use of the right away. There is no Queensland in San Pedro which is owned by the government but there is a right of way, it’s just an illegal issue.”


“What we would call the beach reserve, the 60 feet?”


“Well it can be up to 60 feet, but in our case its about 30 feet. Its just as if you have a hotel and you’ve made a beautiful beach and your guest is out there on the beach can you stop a barge from coming and unloading in front of your hotel, we are a tourist oriented economy now and so we need to determine these issues because it can affect the development of the beach and the hotels and if a party purchasing a beach front party must be able to feel that he will not be encumbered with another business being conducted on his beachfront.”

However the injunction was not granted and the case will go to full trial. Attorney for, Reef Village Estate Limited, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley says that Tabony had enough time to bring the case to the courts.

Mayor Darrell Bradley

“We pointed several things out to the court including and I think fundamentally the fact that this is a case which was originally commenced in 2009 and they had left the case to lie fallow for a serious period of time. They revised it in 2013, we had injunction applications at that time, we had several other proceedings occur at that time and they left it dormant again for a while and now we are in the latter part of 2014 and they have come to court to move the court on an urgent application for an injunction and we were saying ‘well what is the urgency’ you came to court in 2009 and you are not really pressing your rights. There are several other issues that we had tried to persuade the court on including that this was a matter really for monetary damages, its not appropriate for an injunction. We also said that the case is without merit and there is no real serious issue to be tried and at the end of the day the injunction was denied together with cost to my client. This has a lot to do in terms of wider considerations in terms of public policies, use and enjoyment of land in this area of San Pedro. Of course, you may know there is a lot of development going on in that area so there is a lot of conflict in term of private development and I think there has to be a rational approach in balancing how people use and enjoy their land. You must have access to your land so there is easement requirements, several of these facilities are used for docking but we do recognize that people who own land should not be interfere in terms of their rights. So it’s really an interesting case and I think that when it is resolved it would make good law for a jurisdiction.”

The trial begins on January 19.