St. Louis Countryside Committee vows to fight against 48-room apartment building | THE DAILY HERALD

~ Construction permit ‘suspended’ but not cancelled ~

MARIGOT–The Countryside Committee of St. Louis which is engaged in a legal battle to stop the proposed construction of a 48-apartment building on land in the historic village, also known as “Freetown,” updated residents on the current situation Saturday afternoon.

The Committee has reacted vigorously against the project since early February, putting a petition online since the construction permit was requested on February 8, 2017, and seeking legal counsel.

The project owner is said to be local architect Joseph Moughames. The 48 two-bedroom apartments, if built, will be spread over eight buildings rising to a height of 5.52 metres on an open field covering 7,294 square metres.

The committee says such a big construction project does not fit in the area and will have a disastrous impact on the peaceful and historic village in terms of infrastructure.
It cited increased traffic congestion, noise, and other nuisance factors. The road in St. Louis as it stands is not built for two-way traffic. There are concerns about a sewage plant that might be erected near the Etna ice cream factory and any accidents could affect the bakery lower down.

“The building permit has been suspended because the developer did not respect the height restrictions on the buildings but that does not mean it has been cancelled,” warned committee spokesperson Kathy Africa as she spoke to the gathering on the latest development. “The Collectivité asked the architect for additional documents which he provided and the file was completed on May 30, 2017.

“In the law there is two months allowed to instruct a permit. If documents are missing the Collectivité has one month to ask for the additional papers. Also, in those two months the file had to pass to the Executive Council for the permit to be approved. That was not done. So, the law automatically grants what is called a ‘tacite’ permit [authorised to build – Ed.] to the business which was given on September 1, 2017.

“Now the Collectivité had eight days to tell the business owner by letter that he had been granted a tacite permit and that the permit then had to go to the Contrôle de Legalité within 15 days. Also, a notice should have been put up about the permit so that we the people in the neighbourhood could contest it within the two months deadline. None of these procedures were done.

“The people did not know about this tacite permit. We couldn’t contest something that we didn’t know about. We found this out on March 3, when we met with the Préfète. The Collectivité then gave him a second permit in December 2017, now he has two permits for the same project. We contested this second permit because we were aware of this one but our demand to cancel it got rejected because it was beyond the two months deadline.

“We are questioning a lot of things. How is it possible the required procedures were not followed and did not pass through the proper legal channels? We are questioning about the signing of the permit in December 2017, so soon after the hurricanes. The Préfète has intervened and now we have got the permit suspended. So, we wait to see what happens next. But you have to know with modifications the permit could still be approved.”

Source: The Daily Herald