Bel Air Park residents challenging city’s plan to use open space for housing scheme

City Hall has been called upon to reverse a published decision to provide housing for its staff on a property in Bel Air Park.

Attorney Devindra Kissoon, of London House Chambers, representing several property owners in the vicinity of the open space that is R3 Eping Avenue, has written City Hall asking that it confirm that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has no plans to develop the property and that it commit to maintaining the property for the benefit of the residents of Bel Air Park.

In a letter to Town Clerk Royston King, dated February 17, 2016, Kissoon said that the property forms part of the mandatory open space requirements necessary for Bel Air to remain a residential community.

According to the letter, these requirements were established by the Town and Country Planning Act, the Housing Act and the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, each of which stipulates the need for open spaces to be identified in any community.

Kissoon said the residents further support their claim with a transport, dated October 6, 1958, in which the tract cited a block R3 is part of a section of what was the Bel Air Plantation identified as “reserved for community purposes.”

According to the transport, “no building or erections shall be built or placed on said block unless they have been approved of by the Country authority of Bel Air Park.”

City Hall has, however, professed ownership of the space and has contracted attorney Nigel Hughes of the law firm Hughes, Fields and Stoby to respond to the residents.

In his response, dated February 19, Hughes maintains that the land is owned by the city. He goes on to state the city is “unaware of any of the restrictions expressed and/or implied in the letter sent to the council. He further undertakes to respond in detail to Kissoon’s correspondence in seven days. The seventh day is today.

In January of this year, City Hall had told the public through the state-owned Guyana Chronicle that lands owned by the council and underutilised in Guyhoc, South Ruimveldt and Bel Air had been identified for the creation of housing schemes to provide housing to council workers.

The legal correspondence from Kissoon on behalf of the residents cite this and other published reports. He said the announcements and other actions which appear to be in support of the council’s intention have been done “in error’ and requested written confirmation within three days of receipt of the letter that council will not move forward.

He also called on council to remove a guard hut which has been erected on Eping Avenue, while saying it is both illegal and a hazard for drivers and residents.

City Hall, however, denies this.

A source told this newspaper that the hut has been erected to prevent untoward use of the space. The source said that the city found evidence of dumping at the property and has erected the hut to prevent same from continuing.

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