DCA warns business owners to seek consultation following demolition backlash

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Observer arrived on the scene moments before DCA demolished the small structure on the waterway, and captured the aftermath where the owner’s husband attempted to salvage some material (Photo by Makeida Antonio)
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By Makeida Antonio

[email protected]

The Development Control Authority (DCA) has advised potential business owners to seek free consultation prior to erecting any structures as it is proper procedure to seek permission for an official review of building plans.

This warning was made during the DCA’s response to criticism from the public following the demolition of a small structure attached to an Ital restaurant at East Bus Station yesterday.

DCA Deputy Town and Country Planner Clement Antonio told Observer that there was ongoing communication between the authority and the owner of Natural Livity, Jahleejah Love, explaining why a bridge should not have been placed by the nearby pond.

The final notice was given to Natural Livity on February 7, in which DCA stated that the owner had three business days to comply or else the structure would be removed at the owner’s expense.

Additionally, in a public notice issued by the DCA, breaches of the law were outlined to justify why the structure was demolished.

“The proprietors of Natural Livity erected a structure over the waterway without the requisite approvals from the Development and Control Authority (DCA).

“Waterways are protected by the Environmental Protection and Management Act No. 10 of 2019, and it must also be noted that Section 17 of the Physical Planning Act No. 6 of 2003 refers to the permission required to develop land,” the notice published to social media said.

DCA further claimed that the material used to build the wooden structure was “inferior” and not suitable for development.

“The structure in question was erected out of pallets, which are deemed an environmental hazard. The structure, serving as a threat to the public, was condemned. The DCA issued a series of notices, the last on February 7 2022, to Natural Livity to remove the structure from the land located in the vicinity of the East Bus Station,” the notice added.

Observer spoke to Jahleeja Love minutes after the demolition of the structure, which was used as shade for local schoolchildren, among other things.

She was disheartened at the series of events and said she’d made several communications to DCA about her beautification efforts in the area, such as planting trees and flowers, removing garbage, and clearing debris from the waterway.

“I’m thinking I’m doing a good thing by beautifying the area. I have pictures of how this area was looking before I even came here, so it’s not something where I want to just take up money and build up because I want to defy DCA but it’s something of purpose.

“This whole thing enhanced the area, beautified the area. What is it doing to anyone?” she asked during an interview.

Jahleejah Love has made a call for citizens to challenge the DCA, as this is not the first incident in recent weeks of small business owners having their structures demolished. On January 15, four young men who were Parham shop proprietors complained of losing expensive equipment during the removal of their property.

“We really need to stand up together and fight for what is right because this thing is not about me. It’s about all of us because it’s going to affect all of us in the long run. I didn’t build this for my personal use. It’s a community thing. All when 1, 2 o’clock come, you see all the school children here lined up – that’s where they wait for their buses,” she said.

As concerned residents ask who might become the next target of the DCA, the Authority indicated that it is currently engaged in talks with the St. John’s Development Corporation (SJDC) to eradicate operations in breach of the Physical Planning Act.

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