PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran (National Alliance) intends to reserve the decision-making on zoning plans in St. Maarten to the Council of Ministers in 2022. In doing so, he assigns the decision-making power to himself, without the possibility of participation and advice from Parliament, members of the opposition warn.
Not only Parliament, but also the citizen is bypassed. Residents cannot object when zoning is regulated by a National Decree containing general measures (Landsbesluit Houdende algemene maatregelen LB HAM), as Doran advocates. His choice, he declared in parliament last week, is “based on advice from the policy department” and with the intention “to expedite the processes.”
An LB HAM is a general administrative measure, a national decree (formerly decree of the Governor) that contains generally binding legal norms. No appeal is possible against an LB HAM; no objections can be made to general rules resulting from laws.
Member of Parliament Claudius Buncamper (United St. Maarten Party) and Independent MP Christopher Emmanuel questioned the choice to arrange zoning in an LB HAM instead of in a National Ordinance.
“That eliminates coming to Parliament,” said Emmanuel. “Parliament has no say in this. I would like to know if that is the intention of the minister.”
A zoning plan is only reviewed once every 10 years, noted MP Buncamper. “Instead of taking it away from the minister and leaving the country to decide what they want to do with zoning, you are putting the decision-making right back in the hands of the minister again,” Buncamper said to Doran.
Emmanuel wanted to know from Doran what policymakers had agreed with this. “Who decided that this is a good idea? Who decided that the zoning should be going into an LB HAM? Can the Minister explain why this should be something positive for St. Maarten that the zoning goes into an LB HAM and not go to Parliament anymore?”
Then it is up to the minister and the minister only, he said. “Where in our governing programme is this?”
Doran answered Parliament by saying: “Based on advice from the policy department, a more coherent country-wide special planning policy will be decided upon by Parliament whereby the specific zoning plans can be decided upon by the Council of Ministers. The intention for this is to expedite the processes.”