High Court blocks M&CC’s move to lease Bel Air lands to Housing Developer
High Court Judge, Justice Gino Persaud had restricted the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and the Town Clerk from leasing reserved community lands situated at Block R.3 and C.l part of Block R.4, Bel Air Park, Georgetown to a private developer who had plans to construct modern houses.
In court documents seen by News Room, the move by the M&CC and the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) was challenged by Attorney-at-Law, Devindra Kissoon, who is also a resident of Bel Air Park.
According to the application by Kissoon, Bel Air Park is a residential community that has several areas of vacant lands, including the section that the M&CC attempted to sell. Kissoon stated that the transport for the lands, dated October 06, 1958, shows that the area is only for the development of community purposes.
The court documents explained that by a letter dated May 16, 2017, to Royston King, the Town Clerk of the M&CC, Mr Terrence Taljit applied for permission to develop a portion of the Community Reserve Property for the purpose of constructing modem homes, which is in breach of the transport.
In a letter dated June 19, 2017, to members of the Investment and Development Committee (IDC) of the M&CC, King invited the members to a meeting to discuss and approve Mr Taljit’s application to develop the Community Reserve Property.
The court documents state that Mr. Taljit’s application was considered at a Statutory Meeting of the Mayor and Councillors on August 14, 2017 where the minutes from that meeting revealed that after discussing Mr Taljit’s application, the recommendation was that the Committee agrees in principle to approving the application provided that a detailed proposal is submitted and that the Committee determines the way forward.
Those minutes also reveal that the M&CC and the Town Clerk intend to build residential homes on the Community Reserve Property.
It was also noted that on February 17, 2016, Kissoon wrote King on behalf of a group of concerned residents and owners of property in Bel Air Park, where he stated that the residents are concerned about reports that the M&CC intends to confiscate and build housing on a three-acre empty community reserve.
The letter stated that a guard hut was built for the purpose of overseeing this construction. However, on February 19, 2017, Attorneys-at-Law for the Town Clerk and M&CC, Hughes, Fields and Stoby, responded to Kissoon and stated that they were instructed to inform that the M&CC is the owner of the Community Reserve Property and that they are unaware of the restrictions expressed.
The letter further noted that the lawyers will respond in detail to the contentions raised in Kissoon’s letter, however, Kissoon never received any further correspondence and the guard hut was since removed.
Justice Persaud granted Kissoon’s application for an injunction to restrain the Town Clerk and the M&CC, their representatives, officers and or agents collectively and individually and each and every one of them restraining whomsoever and howsoever from using, leasing, transferring, assigning, conveying, licensing, selling, encumbering, dealing or permitting the use of the Property for the purpose of building residential homes or otherwise other than for Community purposes, or doing any act which would breach the transport.
Justice Persaud also declared that any Central Housing and Planning Authority permissions or approvals issued for the use of the property as residential housing or otherwise other than for community purposes only or doing any act that would contravene the Servitude contained in Transport No. 1580 in respect of the Community Reserve Property and are unlawful.