The Development Control Authority (DCA) is defending its decision to demolish a structure owned by the proprietors of Natural Livity Ital Restaurant located in the East Country Pond area.
In a public notice, the DCA says the structure was erected over the waterway “without the requisite approvals.”
The DCA, which is the approving agency for construction projects, says such waterways are protected by the Environmental Protection Management Act, 2019.
Further, it says that Section 17 of the Physical Planning Act, 2003 refers to the permission required to develop land.
According to the Authority, “The structure in question was erected out of pallets, which are deemed an environmental hazard.” It refers to the structure as a threat to the public and says it was, therefore, condemned.
The DCA says it issued a series of notices, the last one being on February 7, 2020, to Natural Livity, instructing the business to remove the structure from the land, in the vicinity of the East Bus Station.
Residents are not satisfied with the DCA’s explanation, however. First, they tell REAL News that, across the island, there are scores of other businesses – as well as home-owners – utilizing pallets in one way or the other, including in the Perry Bay area.
Further, they point to the South Mall in Ebenezer Village, in which a two-story commercial building stands next to, and overhanging, a waterway.
The mall reportedly is the property of the son of Prime Minister Gaston Browne, and MP Maria Browne – the Prime Minister’s wife – is the Minister with responsibility for the DCA. Accordingly, critics are asking whether political connections caused the DCA to look the other way when that building was being erected.
Meanwhile, the Authority advises the public that the Natural Livity Restaurant remains operational, although the illegal structure has been demolished.
The agency is urging the public to consult with its offices before engaging in the erection of structures.
It says it “fully supports entrepreneurial development, particularly those that positively impact society; however, it will continue to carry out its responsibilities as prescribed under the laws of Antigua and Barbuda… .”