Justice Gino Persaud, last week handed down a decision which essentially blocked Mayor and City Council (M&CC) intention to sell or lease reserved community lands to a private developer.
The land at the centre of the contention is located along Eping Avenue, Bel Air Park Georgetown. According to court documents seen by this newspaper, the application was filed last year by Attorney-at-Law, Devindra Kissoon, who is also a resident of Bel Air Park.
Kissoon, a founding partner of London House Chambers (Law Firm), sued the M&CC and Central Housing and Planning seeking to prohibit the development of a community reserve property in Bel Air Park for the purpose of housing.
Kaieteur News understands that the Council was in negotiations with local housing developer, Terrence Taljit to transfer to him prime community lands to him despite a restriction on the transport of the property for use as community purposes only.
The plot of land is earmarked as the Bel Air Park playground. Court documents revealed that the property historically existed as an open space, first as an air field then as a horse race course and thereafter was maintained by the M&CC and Housing Department from the 1960s through the 1990’s as a park, used by residents as a playground and cricket field. However, the land has since been taken over by weeds and overgrown.
The Council at a meeting expressed that it was desirous of using the recreational land for building a “town house for the Mayor, town clerk, city engineer and medical officer of health.”
In the action, Kissoon through his Attorneys Kamal Ramkraran and Nicholas Caryll highlighted the fact that a letter was sent to City Hall notifying the Council that not only does the community reserve form part of the mandatory open space requirements established by the Town and County Planning Act, the Public Health Ordinance, and the Housing Act, necessary for Bel Air Park to remain a residential community, but there exists a specific prohibition on the use of the Property in favour of all residents of Bel Air Park for purposes other than recreational purposes.
The lawyer commenced the lawsuit after noticing the lands were being surveyed despite objections by him for the council to cease and desist.
He noted there were reports that the M&CC intends to confiscate and build housing on a three-acre empty community reserve known as R3 Bel Air Park, and had built a guard but for the purpose of overseeing this construction.
As such, Kissoon in his application sought a declaration that the M&CC and CH&PA are bound by the servitude made and contained in Transport No. 1580 restricting the use of the property situated at Block R.3 and C.1 part of Block R.4, Bel Air Park, Georgetown, Guyana to community purposes only (the servitude).
He also sought a declaration that the intended use of the Community Reserve Property for the purpose of building residential homes is in breach of the Servitude made and a declaration that the Mayor and Councilors of the City of Georgetown and the Town Clerk of the City of Georgetown are under a duty to maintain the Community Reserve property pursuant to Section 302 (7) of the Municipal and District Councils Act Cap 28:01.
The applicant also sought an injunction restraining the Town Clerk of the City of Georgetown and the Mayor and Councilors of the City of Georgetown by themselves, 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 Servitude contained in transport No.1580 in respect of the Community Reserve property.
In his ruling on January 8, last, Justice Persaud declared that the M&CC is permanently restrained from using a community reserve property in Bel Air Park for housing.
Central Housing consented to an order that the land is reserved for community purposes and Justice Persaud restrained the M&CC. Justice Persaud also ordered that the Council had a duty to maintain the property.
Residents in the area had expressed disgust that the Town Clerk and Mayor would vote at a council meeting to take community land for personal housing, despite the existence of the covenant and despite the obvious conflict.
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