|Sugar Caye Development to create 421 new house lots for Belizeans who need a place to live. |
Last week, The San Pedro Sun printed an investigative story about a new subdivision announced by Sugar Caye Development that will be located south of San Pedro Town next to the DFC area. Environmentalists and local groups have publicly expressed that they are not in agreement with the new subdivision because of the location, which is not very far away from the town’s sewage treatment pond. On one end of the negotiating table are local, environmental groups who are totally against the new development and on the other end are the local political authorities who are desperately trying to provide the much needed land for the island’s growing population.
The island has expanded from a small fishing community of a few hundred, to an alarming 22 thousand inhabitants. With the fast growing population comes many issues and one paramount issue is the availability of land. Currently there is no government land available around San Pedro Town that can be given out to the demanding electorates. In fact, the only government land that is available on the entire Ambergris Caye is the 3,000 acres of land that once belonged to Social Security which is approximately 20 miles north of San Pedro Town. All other land around San Pedro Town is in the hands of private investors.
All these combined variables have challenged local authorities to seek alternative ways to secure land for the people who have elected them to solve the problems. According to Deputy Mayor Nestor Gomez, “the people want land and we have no where on the island to put them.” In an effort to bring some balance to the problem, Gomez stated that, “the new subdivision will help alleviate the growing demand for land.” According to Gomez, while they do support initiatives like new subdivisions, they ensure that investors do so in a safe, affordable and sustainable manner.
According to Chief Hydraulic Engineer Frank Panton who is spearheading the development, the new subdivision will provide some 421 standard size house lots to local residents at the very reasonable price of Belize $17,000. Each house lot will have access to a water channel and will face a street. Unlike other government subdivisions such as San Pedrito, the new subdivision will be connected to the Town’s sewer system avoiding septic tanks. In addition, the new subdivision will also have utilities accessibility such as water and electricity prior to the sales of land.
While environmentalists claim that the location of the subdivision is not healthy, nor environmentally friendly, Panton maintains that there is no evidence to support that argument. “The subdivision will be a very good distance away from the sewage ponds. But even so, the sewage system is one of the best in the entire country. It is currently underused and the treatment is one of the safest, practiced countrywide, so there is no way that the sewage will be a health hazard for residents in that area,” stated Panton adding that, “the town’s garbage dump site is of more environmental and health concerns to the entire island than the sewage to the new subdivision.” Panton explained that while there are mangroves in the area, they are not in the best of health. Mangrove need proper inflow of water for survival but in the proposed subdivision site interflow is highly deficient. “The necessary tidal influence has been cut by past projects which has caused mangrove in that area to rot,” explain Panton, stating that “the subdivision will ensure that we plant mangrove and ensure that there is proper tidal influence in the area.”
The dredging and mangrove clearance permit was approved and obtained on May 28th, 2009. Panton stated that Sugar Caye Development subdivision project will be different than the San Mateo subdivision which is a government subdivision that is still lacking infrastructures that were promised by various politicians during different election campaigns. In terms of facing opposition from local environmental groups, Panton ended by explaining that while they are willing to listen and address the concerns brought to them, these same environmental groups cannot offer alternative solutions to help address the issues.
Sugar Cay Development is also acquiring the assistance of mangrove expert Bob Riley who will guide the mangrove restoration aspect of the new subdivision. When the lots are available, Sugar Caye Development will give 421 families the opportunity to own property in San Pedro Town at a reasonable, affordable price with an easy access area. In addition the subdivision will have all the proper utilities in place, which will make the new subdivision better equipped than DFC, San Pedrito, San Mateo, San Marcos and Boca del Rio who lack one if not most of the proper systems.