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Letter of Approval signed by Fidel Ancona, ACLBA

Letter of Approval signed by Fidel Ancona, ACLBA

A couple of weeks ago The San Pedro Sun reported on Cabinet’s approval of the South Beach Belize development. In an effort to better understand the issue, The Sun asked the Director of the Central Building Unit of the Central Building Authority (CBA) Paul Satchwell a number of questions. According to Chairman of the Ambergris Caye Local Building Authority (ACLBA) Fidel Ancona, Paul Satchwell, approved three structures for the South Beach Belize project. Ancona stated that Satchwell made a sole decision without consulting all of the members of the Central Building Authority (CBA). Ancona further stated that the approval was made without consulting ACLBA and that Satchwell apologized for not having consulted with them. As such, Ancona stated that no kind of construction has started and will not start until the approval is granted by ACLBA. In an interview with The Sun, Mr. Satchwell addressed our questions.

Coco Beach development under much scrutiny

Coco Beach development under much scrutiny1) Did you approve the construction of the building?
As the Director of the Central Building Unit of The Central Building Authority my responsibilities include the review and approval of drawings for proposed structures, so yes I did review and approve the three sample buildings.

2) Was it illegally approved?
Definitely not! As the Director of the Central Building Unit of The Central Building Authority one of my responsibilities is to review and approve drawings for proposed structures.

3) Can the ACLBA stop a structure that has been approved by the CBA?
The ACLBA like all other Local Building Authority (LBA) act on behalf of the Central Building Authority, but they do NOT have the authority to stop a structure that has been approved by the CBA

4) Does the CBA have any jurisdiction over ACLBA?
According to the Belize Building Act 2003, the CBA has responsibility for the entire country of Belize, and the LBA’s represent, and act on behalf of the CBA in cities and towns.

5) Is any member of the ACLBA a member of the CBA?
Not at this time.

6) Did you apologize to the ACLBA?
Yes I did apologize to Mr. Ancona for not informing him/the ACLBA that the CBA had been asked to review the drawings and determine if the project should be approved.

7) Did you consult with all the members of the CBA in regards to the three structures?
There is/was no requirement for me to do so. One of my responsibilities as Director of the Central Building Unit of the CBA is to review and approve proposed structures for and on behalf of the Board CBA.

8) Does South Beach satisfies all the building standards of the CBA?
The drawings submitted do, and inspectors from the CBA have inspected the setting out done and that is in conformity with the approved documents.
9) Does South Beach has all their permits in place?
The South beach Project has satisfied all the requirements of the CBA for the three sample homes for which they have requested approval.

10) Where does South Beach stand right now?
The documents submitted have been reviewed and have satisfied the requirements of the CBA and as such they can proceed with the approved works.
11) Is it true that any project exceeding 10,000 square feet can only be approved by the CBA?
Because most, if not all LBA’s do not have the expertise readily available to carry out a comprehensive review of larger projects, it would not be in the best interest of public health and safety for such projects to be reviewed by LBA’s.

12) What is the actual square footage of the South Beach structures?
The Newport Structure is 1,540 S.F. and the Palms Court structure is 12,360 S.F.

13) What is the size of the largest project that the ACLBA can approve?
The whole issue of if, and how the LBA’s should be limited still needs to be discussed.
The other project that has been of concern is a concrete structure in front of Coco Beach Resort situated north of San Pedro Town. The developers are constructing a concrete enclosed structure that emerges from the sea. The structure, according to Ancona is an attached palapa to a pier. Close inspection reveals that it is not a palapa, but an enclosed structure within the water with its foundation constructed within the water bed. Ancona stated that the ACLBA does not and is not responsible for the approval of “over the water” structures. In a letter date June 4th, 2009 from the ACLBA which was signed by Fidel Ancona and addressed to Mr. Azueta, approves the construction of the pier and open palapa. In order for the structure to be legal, the developers must get the green light from seven entities. These entities are the Ministry of Natural Resources, Department of the Environment, The San Pedro Town Council, Public Utilities Commission, Land Utilization Authority, Fisheries Department and Ports of Belize. Ancona stated that the only role the ACLBA authority plays is to ensure that the enclosed building is structurally sound. In order for the ACLBA to ensure that it is sound, the project must be built “as per sketch submitted to the Physical Planning Section (PPS).” When asked what the sketch entails, Ancona stated that ACLBA did not receive one. The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment in a letter dated September 13th, 2007, approved the application to “manage an existing pier in front of Coco Beach Resort not exceeding 300 feet long and 8 feet wide.” The letter makes no reference to an attached structure and sketch. Taken from The San Pedro Sun

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The inclusion of the Cangrejo Shoals have been approved and the boundary in now included in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.  The Hol Chan Marine Reserve (HCMR) was established in 1987 to conserve a small but complete sample of Belize’s coastal and marine ecosystem. As other marine protected areas under Marine Reserve status, the HCMR is a multi-use area that allows for no-take marine conservation and controlled fishing activities. To accomplish this, the marine reserve has been divided into zones. The Reserve is now recognized as an important tourism product for the country of Belize. In view of this Government has reinforced its commitment to conservation of our coastal ecosystems by extending the protected area to include a vast area of sea grass meadows, flats and mangrove locally known as the Cangrejo Shoals. This area has been identified as an important nursery for lobster and conch and is an important fishing ground for fishermen of San Pedro and Caye Caulker. Additionally, the mangrove flats and shallow lagoons provide excellent opportunities for catch and release fishing tourism.

This new addition focuses on the protection of the mangrove islands and sea grass meadows.

This new addition focuses on the protection of the mangrove islands and sea grass meadows.

This new addition focuses on the protection of the mangrove islands and sea grass meadows. Traditional fishers are allowed to continue their fishing practice but spear fishing and the use of nets is prohibited. The HCMR has now more than tripled in size and covers an area of over 55 square kilometres of mangrove, sea grass and coral reefs. Through sustainable fishery and tourism the HCMR has provide the communities of San Pedro and Caye Caulker an important economic incentive to support conservation. Stakeholders’ participation has been vital to the success of this marine protected area. This was proven in the recent extension of the HCMR where fishermen and tour guides played a vital role in lobbying government for the inclusion of the Cangrejo Shoals into the Marine Reserve.

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Ruth Maria Arita Luna, Miss Honduras

Ruth Maria Arita Luna, Miss Honduras

The roster is finally complete as all countries have presented their delegates for the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant and they are Belize – Felicita Arzu, Miss El Salvador – Raquel Guadalupe Fuentes Bonilla; Miss Guatemala – Angelica Guevara Morfin, Miss Mexico – Marliese Edelmann Ayala, Miss Panama – Nathalia Lucia Tamayo Dominici, Miss Costa Rica – Jennifer Miranda Rodriguez, Miss Nicaragua – Maritza Rivas Cruz. The night of gala will take place on Thursday, August 6th, 2009.
    Jus recently, the last delegate representing the country of Honduras was announced. She is no other than 23-year-old Ruth Maria Arita Luna from Honduras. The five foot seven inch tall beauty was her country’s Miss Earth 2005 delegate. A student in public relations and a professional model, Ruth is eager to take part in this year’s Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant since her biggest dream is to win a crown for her native home. Describing herself, Ruth states that she is a perfectionist because she like to correct things and have everything “just right.” Confident and charismatic, Ruth has prepared in advance for the night’s events and believes that her uniqueness can captivate the judges. Gates at the Old Football Field opens at 6pm. See you there!

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