The St. James Municipal Corporation has raised the red flag over the construction of a wall along Kent Avenue in Montego Bay and is calling for answers from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
The matter was raised by Senator Charles Sinclair at the recent regular monthly council meeting against the background of a pending new Development Order for the parish. He argued that there were some things he saw happening in Montego Bay that could be affected by what is contained in the new Development Order.
“If you drive on Kent Avenue, there is a development that is taking place which started some time ago and which there were issues with it as NEPA had served notice and I believe it was taken to court,” said Sinclair.
Without naming who is behind the development, he said there was continuation of the activity with additional dumping taking place into the sea to create land space. He argued, “And what was done from the original development is that a wall was constructed which obstructs the view to the sea and if you look at the Development Orders, I recall there’s a provision which says you have to construct windows to allow that people who have certain types of development not to obstruct the view.”
Senator Sinclair who is councillor for the area, reported that the wall in question had been constructed on the existing sea wall and it now appeared there was going to be an extension.
A large section of the Sunset Beach has been developed to complement the Sea Garden Hotel on the opposite side of Kent Avenue. It was confirmed on Friday that currently, construction is taking place at another section of the beach but there is no indication as to whether there is a connection with the existing facility.
Council Chairman Homer Davis said he heard about it and commented, “I don’t want to talk but it was brought to my attention last night that a wall is now constructed on top of the wall. I haven’t seen it myself…” at which point Sinclair interjected that there were issues with the first wall and notices were served. He sought word from the Corporation’s Director of Planning, Trevion Manning “whether the council was ever served or given any documentation that speaks to that development that is now taking place.”
The Senator further questioned, “Is it that this particular developer is going to construct a wall that creates a windowless passage? Is that what is happening? I don’t know but I think there needs to be some looking into what is taking place with the dumping up of the sea and the extension of the wall that is there.”
Sinclair suggested that notice should be served on the developer and NEPA contacted, stating that he had personally contacted the agency’s legal officer and twice promised a response but “the person who I spoke with at NEPA, from the legal department, did not get back to me so I’m asking he council to officially communicate with NEPA to ask them if they have granted any permit to any development that is taking place down at Kent Avenue and could they provide us with the specifics of any approval that has been done.”
Mayor Davis informed, “I am in full support of that request coming from the councillor because we are the ones who are being asked what is happening here, what is happening there and nobody knows who the NEPA people are. They come to our meetings, they spend some time yes but more times than not they are nor even aware of what is happening or even if they are aware of what is happening they are not prepared to give us that information.”
He asserted, “If it needs be that we have to get the head of NEPA here then we get the head of NEPA down because we can’t have things around us that we are not aware of and these are building issues of which NEPA forms a critical part and we are not on the same page.”
Instruction was given that NEPA be written to as what was taking place along Kent Avenue “don’t look right.” NEPA has oversight and its approval is critical but said Davis, “as a municipality who has come under severe pressure and criticism, is like we can’t do anything.” He is pushing for a meeting with the head of NEPA to get clarity before the next council due October 10.
Work is in progress to overlay Kent Avenue with support from the Tourism Enhancement Fund, Mayor Davis the municipality was fixing it so that citizens can enjoy the area popularly known as Dead End.