January 15, 2013
Mr. C. Phillip Waight, P. Eng
Central Building Authority Board
Dear Mr. Waight,
The Placencia Village Council hereby takes this opportunity to respond and address the letter sent to the Council on November 10, 2012 (Ref: CBA250-11112).
The Placencia Village Council is aware of the functions of the Central Building Authority. At the inception of the Council of 2010-2013, we made efforts to continue working with, and strengthening, the relationship between the Council and CBA. We were very happy that the Director at that time, Mr. Satchwell, was very pro-active and open when it came to working with the Council.
We, at no time, ever stated, in any official capacity, to any contractor/builder/owner, that the Council has the only say when it came to issuing building permits. It was always mutually understood that protocol is:
Step 1. All applications first come to the Council;
Step 2: The Council reviews floor plans and retain a copy for archiving;
Step 3: Give an official letter of support, after collecting our Social Consideration Fees due to us under the National Laws of Belize;
We have always, and continue to make it clear to all that apply for a support letter from the Council, that the final issuance of a building permit and inspections will be done by CBA to make sure regulations are followed. The Council assisted in informing CBA if anything obvious was going awry, and Inspectors promptly sent down for official inspection.
It was always respected in the past that an official letter of support be presented to CBA, along with all other required documents, as proof to CBA that the Council is aware that the construction of the structure is about to take place and that we lend our support. The Council does this so that we can officially inform our community, as mandated by the Village Council Act, of the happenings in the community.
We have never tried to overstep CBA in any construction case, and no one person can say that we have informed them, in any official capacity, that we gave them permission to build, or that they did not need to apply to the CBA. Saying otherwise is perjurious.
The Council would like to reiterate that it was a mutual understanding, which carried forward to this new Council, with full support of Mr. Satchwell, that the Council would charge Social Consideration Fees. This was supported by CBA, due to the fact that Central Government gives no rural communities financial resources to fulfill their mandates.
We are expected to assist Central Government, and in this specific case, to assist and work in liaison with CBA, with no subvention. Our Village Council Act is almost pointless, for it does not allow us to collect any trade license fees, property tax, etc. A village this size cannot run on liquor license and vendor fees. It is a technical improbability.
Under the National Laws of Belize, villages are guaranteed what is called a Social Consideration Fee for developments that take place within their community. The Council officially requested the activation of our Social Consideration Fee, which we were informed, was protocol and a formality, on August 30, 2010 (supporting document attached).
Also, as guaranteed to us by the National Laws of Belize, as long as the necessary protocols and steps are taken, the Placencia Village Council declared, on November 23, 2012 the activation of our By-Laws, which is a legal document that allows a Council to properly govern its constituency, same as the Town Council Act gives the Municipalities legality to properly govern their constituency, and gives them access to the resources they need to fulfill their mandates. Resources that already exist right within the community.
Pursuant to the Village Council Act of 2003 and pursuant to Section 23 – Power to make by-laws (1) A council may from time to time make by-laws for the rule and good government of its village generally, and in particular in respect of all or any of the following matters.
The Placencia Village Council has followed the procedures outlined in this legal document – the Village Council Act 2003 – as stipulated by Section 23 (2) Before submitting the proposed by-laws to the House in accordance with the next following section, the Council shall call a general meeting of the village and present the by-laws for the consideration of the villagers. No bylaws shall be presented to the House unless they have been approved by a majority of those present at such meeting.
As outlined in the attached Minutes – November 9, 2010 – this has been completed.
And as stipulated by Section 24 (1) Enforcing of by-laws and regulations – By-laws and regulations made by a council shall be submitted to the Clerk of the National Assembly, who shall cause them to be examined and certified as being legally constructed for presentation to the National Assembly and shall be subject to affirmative resolution of the National Assembly. (all supporting documents attached – Part XII of the by-laws deals with Structural Work).
In conclusion, the Council is not here to make the job of CBA harder, we are here to make it easier. We take the development of our community very seriously. We are here, we know what is going on. CBA must realize that our National Laws are filled with too many ambiguities and contradictions that inhibit the functionality of local authorities and create haphazard development in this country, especially rural communities. CBA must realize that Placencia is one of the fastest growing areas in Belize due to tourism, and the local Council needs resources to function.
Instead of CBA inhibiting us, we encourage you to support us to receive the resources we need to assist CBA to properly fulfill our mandate and let the development in our community, under the National regulations, be done properly.
Ultimately our community will be left with these developments and any issues that may arise – and proper development, especially in the structures that are erected, are of utmost importance to us.
Our requests are: 1. A meeting with CBA Board of directors and how to better work together; 2. Incorporating the building codes outlined in our by-laws, into the National Building Regulations; and 3. We officially request a copy of the current National Building Regulations.
We thank you for your cooperation and we look forward to a considerate response.
Charles Leslie, Jr.
Placencia Village Council
cc: CEO Housing