Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Construction project north of San Pedro issued Stop Order

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Early in December, images started circulating on social media about a construction project north of San Pedro Town showing a truck dumping rocks off the beach and onto the seabed. The photos shocked the environmental and tourism community on the island, who started questioning this action. The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) and its building unit were reportedly unaware of the incident; as the images made the rounds, they visited the construction site and suspended the works. The latest update from the SPTC is that an official stop order was issued and is still in effect, while the Department of Environment (DOE) issues a fine for the irregular activity.
A representative from DOE shared that the stop order was issued by the Lands Department in the Ministry of Natural Resources and that they are also looking at the situation. According to them, they will make their evaluations, and after the holidays, a fine may be issued to the project developer. The project, nicknamed ‘Road to the Reef,’ is part of a new hotel under construction north of San Pedro that includes a tower of luxurious units facing the barrier reef and the Caribbean Sea.
Mayor Gualberto’ Wally’ Nuñez said that the stop order was not only for the dumping of rocks on the seabed but included a second structure on the property that was built without proper clearance from the building authorities. The Mayor added that the stop order conditions also require removing the rocks dumped into the seabed. The building unit is to visit the site over the coming days to verify if the rocks have been removed. They agree with the island stakeholders that such activities can damage the seabed around this area, where the seagrasses serve as a nurturing space for juvenile fish. The destruction of these ecosystems is a concern to islanders because it can jeopardize their livelihoods, mainly fisheries and tourism.
As such, the local authorities have deemed this type of activity irresponsible because no permits were issued to build on or beyond the beach. They noted that only the Physical Planning Unit under the Ministry of Natural Resources holds the mandate nationwide to grant permits for these types of developments. They said the building unit at the SPTC will continue monitoring the ongoing construction projects on the island and work with the central government’s respective authorities.

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