ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The owner of the metal scrap yard in Bethesda – which residents say has been a nuisance and eyesore for several years now – is squatting on Crown land and will be ordered to move.
That is according to Chairman of the Board of the Development Control Authority (DCA) Leon “Chaku” Symister, who was speaking on OBSERVER Radio’s Voice of the People programme yesterday.
“Today (Monday) Mr Dion Tonge will be issued an amenities order. We are of the position (that) we are not concerned with who you are; we are concerned with what you are doing and if you are doing something illegal, we have to deal with it,” Symister said.
The board chairman said the amenities order – which requires a clean-up of the area – is the first step before the enforcement order will be given for the owner to move.
“We are dealing with the amenities order as we get the paperwork verified and the relevant request from the Ministry of Agriculture to act; because it’s Crown land, a request will come from Ministry of Agriculture to DCA to remove these squatters from the land,” the chairman noted.
“While we are doing that, we are asking him to clean up. If he doesn’t, we will do what the law says and clean up for him and give him the bill. If he doesn’t pay, we will do what we have done with others and take him to court,” he added.
The amenities order is issued when the town and country planner recognises land is unsightly and injurious to the amenity of the area and is visible to persons using a public highway.
Meanwhile, DCA officials in part, explained the authority’s delay in discovering the person in question was squatting, by explaining assurances were given that he was leasing the land.
Chief Town and Country Planner Fredrick Southwell said, “When we met with him a few months back, he assured us he was leasing the land.”
Southwell said Tonge promised to present the lease, but never did and it was only in later meetings with the survey department “we were informed the lands were actually Crown lands.”
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)