Private Investigator

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 18, No. 11            March 13, 2008

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Private Investigator: Piers
Q: I read with great interest the press release issued by the Ambergris Caye Local Building Authority on February 26th, 2008 printed on your newspaper. I do have to agree that a moratorium on the construction of piers is good for the island. I was wondering if you could clarify the last bit where it says all existing piers are open to public use between the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. regardless of who built them. Does this mean that I am not allowed to visit a pier before or after those hours? And, is this a new law?

Upon construction, no gates or barriers structures shall be placed on the piers.

A: For long, piers have been scrutinized by many as questions arise when it pertains to them. Yes, they are built on National Land but constructing a pier does not grant ownership. Complaints reaching The San Pedro Sun in the past, speak of “guest only” signs on docks or owners telling people that they are not allowed on the pier. That is not right. The law that you refer to, has been a law for years, it simply was never enforced. When a pier permit is granted, the applicant is subject to a number of conditions set by the Physical Planning Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. These conditions state clearly to the applicant that it is only a privilege granted to erect a structure on National Land and it does not confer ownership nor any interest in the land and seabed. Upon construction, no gates or barriers structures shall be placed on the piers. In addition, proper lighting should be put in place to prevent navigational hazards. The conditions clearly states that the public shall have access to the pier from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and at all other reasonable times.

    The pier permit condition states that any damage caused to the environment by the construction of the pier shall be considered a contravention of the Environmental Protection Act and by obligation of the licensee, to repair all damages at his or her own expense. The conditions go on to state that the benefits, like the burden of the license, run with the respective parcel and the license cannot be transferred without the approval of the Land and Surveys Department.

    When construction is being done and any dredging, mangrove clearance or any other environmental activities are required, proper authorization must be obtained from the specific permitting agencies.

    What are the penalties for non-compliances to the set conditions? The permit for pier and dock conditions specifically cites that non-compliance with any of the conditions shall be grounds for revocation of the permit.
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