Lamaha Gardens’ status as strictly residential has eroded

- Town Clerk

In light of the call from Lamaha Gardens’ residents for the relevant authorities to respect the zoning laws of their community, Town Clerk Royston King says that the area’s status as a strictly residential area has eroded over time.

The residents of the area, including Ronald Alli, had related to Stabroek News that their zoning regulations as a residential community were not being respected since persons were erecting businesses in the area and ignoring other rules.

As a result, they had applied to the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) to erect signs at the two entrances to the community stating “No businesses”. However, their request was subsequently denied by the City Council and no further dialogue was held between the two parties.

Earlier in the year, the Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) erected an office building in the community, which spurred the residents to think that the laws were not being respected.

However, speaking to Stabroek News, King related that the council can grant access for persons to open businesses in residential areas and GWI was since given permission.

Quoting the law, King said, “Section 34 of Chapter 28:01 says, the council will by order declare an area a residential district; no spirit shops, provision ships, manufacturers, bakeries or other such business premises, no theatre, dancehall, school, assembly hall, tenement room, ranges, stables, cow pens or other building or buildings used for similar purposes shall be erected; nor shall any premises or part of premises be converted to be used for such a purpose as above within a resident district save by consent of the council.”

According to law, if there are any buildings at the time of declaring the area a residential district, then some two-thirds of the residents would have to petition to get them removed. However, in such a case, the council would have to compensate the businesses.

While the area was slated as a residential one when it was built several decades ago, King explained that Lamaha Gardens’ status has eroded over time since persons have sought to erect businesses without council’s permission.

“It was slated as a residential area, so too as other areas, but over time you had people set up various businesses without the permission of council and the authorities. Zoning is a function of the CH&PA [Central Housing and Planning Authority] but the Council has a role and can declare an area strictly residential,” King said, while pointing out that if it were to declare the area as residential and remove the businesses, then it would have to consider compensation, which it cannot do at this point in time.

Mayor Patricia Chase-Green had also echoed similar sentiments at a statutory meeting and had implored the relevant constituency reps to explain to the residents about the council’s position.

The residents had also indicated that if they were not to receive any satisfactory response from the council or the other authorities they would be prepared to challenge the matter in court.

However, King’s and Chase-Green’s comments contradict earlier statements that were made in February when the City Council was trying to regularise wash bays in the Queenstown and surrounding areas. King had announced that wash bays located in the area would no longer be allowed to function and the owners were given a two week time frame to cease their operations but were eventually given an additional two weeks.

At a meeting with the wash bay operators, King had related that concerns were raised by residents of the communities about the wash bays operating in residential areas, where commercial activities are prohibited.

King had also noted that the City Council has the authority to “regulate any and all business activity within the city” and while the council would assist with their relocation they would no longer be allowed to operate on the parapets or in their yards or bridges.

When King was questioned by an operator as to why other businesses were not being given an ultimatum King had related that the businesses in Queenstown had been attracting more negative attention than those in other areas, and the municipality had been flooded by complaints by not only residents, but officers of the Police Traffic Department.

He had also explained that while only wash bays were being targeted, the council would re-examine all commercial activities in the area and other residential areas, and such activities would not be permitted, which is in contradiction of what he said with respect to the Lamaha Gardens’ residents’ concerns.

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