Orient Beach tenants mull legal action if satisfaction not obtained

~ Architect insists project has ‘been done by the book ~

ORIENT BAY–Three local proprietors of the new restaurant units on Orient Beach who have not signed contracts with the Collectivité based on their claims the buildings have not been constructed to French code in addition to contesting what they view as prohibitively high rent said Monday this was their “final stand.”

They alluded to a legal action if satisfaction is not obtained from the Collectivité. Meanwhile, other restaurants and boutiques in the new complex have signed contracts and opened, giving the project a half-opened look.

Leandre Carti, Maurice and Gillian Jermin, and Paulinus Westcott said they had had restaurants on Orient Beach since 1977 and always had abided by the requests of the “veterinaire” to upgrade their facilities in accordance with social requirements of a public entity, without government aid.

Still at issue is a revision of the rent set at 2,500 euros per month by the Collectivité. Gillian Jermin indicated Executive Council meetings already had passed and there still was no answer on what had been decided.

“Apparently we have to wait for Vice-President Ramona Connor to get back from vacation today as she is the only one authorised to sign a revised contract,” said Jermin. “They plan to give us a new contract, but haven’t said what the rent is. There’s also the issue of bars being built, but not to the directives of the Collectivité.”

The Collectivité halted all work to construct bars on January 27, as permission had not been obtained beforehand, and a meeting was held on site with technicians to review what is or is not permissible.

“While it was allowed for them to build a bar they (restaurants) did not come to the Collectivité to present their project or plans to get authorisation, which is the law. That’s why the letter was sent out,” a Collectivité spokesperson explained at the time. “It’s not likely they will have to take down what has been built, but it is just that the ‘declaration préalable’ had to be made.”

The aggrieved local tenants again pointed out irregularities in the restaurants, claiming they do not conform to French code; for example, wash basin in the employee toilet that has no foot pedestal to operate the tap, no kitchen drain, and a restaurant side door that cannot be opened because it is being blocked by the business next door.

“How can that comply with security measures for a business of this nature where people are gathered and have to have an emergency exit?” a tenant questioned.

The tenants object to having to make upgrades at their own cost for a project they say is “incomplete.”

However, Yves-Marie Jhigaï, one of the architects who worked on the project, indicated neither the Collectivité nor supervising contractor Semsamar had any further responsibility to address faults about which the tenants complained, as “everything has been approved.”

“On the project every day we had a technical controller and his job was to make sure the regulations were respected regarding accessibility and many different aspects,” he said. “Everything concerning accessibility and security, the kitchens, has been approved by the various government offices concerned. The restaurants don’t like the way the toilets have been designed, but legally that’s the only way to have them.

“The toilet has to be large so someone in a wheelchair can easily get in and out and the door has to open in a specific way for a wheelchair-user. We cannot go against the regulations.

“Some equipment is not included in the project such as exhaust extractors for the kitchens, but provision has been made for this equipment on the roof of the restaurants. Infrastructure is all there, but it has to be installed by them.”

Jhigaï disclosed one of the reasons the project ended up costing 3.8 million euros was that considerable money had been spent to stabilise the ground on which the project was built.

“Because it was situated between pond and sea the ground was considered unstable and the project had to conform to the Plan de Prévention des Risques Naturelle (PPRN). It meant creating a huge foundation 30 metres deep which would have cost a fortune, but nobody here has that expertise.

“We went for the other option of vibrating the soil to stabilise it. That needed a special machine to be imported from the Pacific to do that. The protective walls in front of the restaurants go down at least two metres. The project may look simple, but there was a lot more to it than meets the eye.”  

Source: The Daily Herald Orient Beach tenants mull legal action if satisfaction not obtained