BELMOPAN, Mon. May 16, 2022
Today, a resident of Belmopan took to the media to express her concerns over the construction of a gas station being developed adjacent to her property on North Ring Road. In a letter written to the mayor of Belmopan, Sheran Palacio, on May 9, the concerned Belmopan resident, Ms. Antonio Cawich, pointed to major reasons that the residents of the area believe their property and investments may be at risk due to the construction of the gas station — a development being carried out by businessman Pete Lizarraga.
The letter states, “1. The close proximity of these fuel tank pits to my existing fence line now poses a hazardous risk of fumes and explosion not only to the personal safety of my patrons and the guests, but also to other residents living nearby. 2. Note that one of Belmopan’s main storm drain discharged arteries may have been compromised due to the fact that the previously open storm drain has been backfilled by Mr. Lizarraga with the underground cylindrical concrete culverts and soil. While the construction will make more land available for Mr. Lizarraga, it may compromise the rate of discharge of this previously open storm drain and, as a consequence, could lead to flooding in this area of my property.”
Cawich asked for a stop order and for inspection of the work by City Hall and the Ministry of Works in her letter, and when interviewed today, she shared that she did see some government vehicles come to the location, but the construction work continued on as scheduled.
“I wrote a letter to the Mayor on Monday and asked her to please send somebody to check that all the building codes were adhered to or followed. I did not hear any response from them; however, I did see some vehicles with yellow plates I am not sure if they were from the City Council or from the DOE on Tuesday, but the work did not stop; the digging did not stop, so officially I have not gotten any response from any one of these institutions,” Ms. Cawich stated.
She said that while they recognize that no business enterprise should be undertaken at the expense of another, the safety of the neighborhood is the primary concern at this time.
“I would like to record the fact that the construction of one business enterprise should not be at the expense of another. As pioneer investors in this area, we ask you to please uphold our rights to fairness and equal opportunity of long-term success of both Mr. Lizarraga’s investment and my investment and also the safety of all concerned in this neighborhood,” her letter states.
This evening Pete Lizarraga told AMANDALA that they covered all their bases and got all the relevant permits and approvals needed for the construction of the gas station in the area. He said that he had not seen the letter sent to City Hall at the time of the call but communicated, “we’ve been very careful with all the permitting and all-out planning. I could probably understand the concern of the resident, that they might not want a gas station at the property because they live next door, but we’ve taken all the steps that we need to; we’ve gotten all our permits. There is not much more we could do.”
Cawich, on the other hand, feels that her complaint fell on deaf ears, and because the works are now at at an advanced stage, she believes that little can now be done to stop it.
“I believe that had the institutions acted faster, or at least to try to stop the work until a proper revision was done, then you know he wouldn’t have already spent the money, so I do understand now that the work is already done or whatever that was going to happen already happen, but it still doesn’t minus from the fact that I asked, I did ask for help and I believe I feel like nothing was done, especially I feel let down by my Mayor, because that was the first person think about when this happens,” Ms. Cawich said.