MARIGOT–Préfet Dominique Lacroix’s closing press conference at the end of his initial ten-day visit offered seven recommendations for revision of the natural risk prevention plan PPRN. These will be forwarded in his report to the Minister of Overseas Territories and the Minister of the Environment by mid-March.
Lacroix was accompanied on the visit by General Engineer for Bridges, Water and Forests Jean-François Desbouis. The two representatives of the State carried out 55 interviews, “which is very significant and shows the importance of the subject that many people, both elected officials and socio-professionals, attach to this issue,” said Lacroix.
Sandy Ground, Grand Case, Quartier d’Orléans and Saint-James, were all places where Lacroix and Desbouis were able to meet the population and exchange “in a very open way.” The field trips allowed them to become aware of damaged or destroyed buildings and to understand the impact of the measures.
The first recommendation is to authorise the reconstruction of damaged property in the “dark red” zone. As the project stands, “only repairs are possible in the dark red zone. Reconstruction should be authorised provided that there is a reduction in risk and vulnerability,” he said
Removing the obligation to bring the existing system into compliance within five years is the second measure that will be proposed.
“When compliance is prescribed in the PPRN, this allows 80 per cent of the work to be eligible for Barnier Funds, up to a limit of 10 per cent of the value of the property,” Lacroix explained, “except that the remaining 20 per cent could, for a certain number of people, constitute a major difficulty.
“Then it was discovered that renovations were eligible for Barnier Funds in a second case, when there is a Programme d’Aménagement pour la Prévention des Inondations (PAPI) that is carried out in the sector concerned. The PAPI also applies to maritime areas. So, we can do it for St. Martin.”
For the third recommendation there should be a paragraph in the building permit notice with respect to sleeping quarters that should specify why it was proposed to put them in a particular location with respect to risk.
“For example, it is written in the PPRN that sleeping quarters should not be on the ground floor. In a number of cases, this makes sense, but sometimes it is not necessarily the best option, because the configuration of the premises or otherwise makes it better to keep them on the ground floor,” he explained.
Removing the condition to prove “regularity” of the pre-existing construction is part of the fourth proposal. “This is because there are a number of buildings, especially in the coastal zone, that have been built for a long time and that nobody today would imagine being destroyed,” he explained.
The fifth recommendation proposes to fine-tune the PPRN on by-laws and on the zoning from time to time. On the latter point, he said, “There is not going to be any major upheaval, but there are a few things that suggest that it is possible that a few small adjustments can be made.”
Strengthening the collaboration between the State and the Collectivité on the implementation of urban planning authorisations is the sixth recommendation of the Lacroix mission.
“Over time, a sort of doctrine will have to be established. We will therefore recommend that a mechanism be organised between the Department de l’Environment, Aménagement et Logement (DEAL) and the town planning department of the Collectivité, so that the subject is dealt with upstream, so that we don’t have to wait for the Contrôle de Legalité. And if the Collectivité decides to make a PAPI, we can also accompany it.”
Regularisation of the “50 pas géométrique” is the seventh recommendation proposed.
“We will recommend that, as soon as possible, we finalise the conventions prepared by Domain Services because it is a competence of the State,” assured Lacroix.
Desbouis added that for Sandy Ground this will be the subject of an agreement signed in February 2020.
“It is for the rest of the districts that the work must be finalised. We are not far from the goal, but it must be finished. Then the Collectivité will take over and make regular commissions,” said Desbouis.