BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 28, 2019– Landowner Dion Zabaneh has been unsuccessfully trying to fill his mother’s land, lot #4670, for ten days. While this may seem inconsequential, the parcel in question is actually seabed, and residents of the area where the parcel is located are concerned about losing their seafront view as Zabaneh reclaims the land.
The parcel, which is listed under the name of Zabaneh’s mother, Primrose Gabourel, is located at the end of Seashore Drive in the Buttonwood Bay area. Overlooking the fact that seabed cannot be sold in Belize, the Department of Environment (DOE) is looking to take Zabaneh to court for not getting environmental clearance from the department before beginning development on the lot before attempting to reclaim the land.
When we spoke to the DOE today, an official told us that on Saturday, January 19, they issued a stop order to Zabaneh that he completely ignored. In fact, he simply allowed the trucks to continue to fill up the area with sand throughout that weekend.
Due to the uncooperative attitude he displayed, DOE said, their officers were unable to engage him further.
Therefore, DOE has filed the papers to take Zabaneh to court. He will be charged with failure to comply with an enforcement notice, commencing an undertaking without environmental clearance and for obstruction and assault of an officer.
This past Friday, January 25, DOE officers showed up at the site with members of the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) to force Zabaneh to stop all operations. They gave him 30 minutes for him and his crew to leave the site. He was clearly very upset, as he was caught on camera by 7News yelling obscenities at the officers, for which he may be charged as well.
While the works have been stopped, Zabaneh has made substantial progress, as the lot is visibly filled up.
Zabaneh had received an injunction to cease development on this same parcel of land back in 2006. He had challenged this injunction, and it was lifted in 2016, so while there was nothing legally stopping him from developing the area, he allegedly did not follow the proper procedure to get clearance prior to proceeding.
According to DOE, there is a legal way to go about reclaiming land, and Zabaneh should have adhered to that protocol.
We could not do so at this time, but we intend to speak with Zabaneh and have that story in the Friday issue of the newspaper.