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Will Placencia lose part of its beloved sidewalk to private property?

Posted: Wednesday, March 8, 2023. 8:13 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A resident of Placencia, Stann Creek District has alerted Breaking Belize News to a brewing property dispute that means they could lose access to a key area for village functions accessed by the world-famous village sidewalk.

Magda Morales of Placencia narrated a five-minute video that detailed the issue. Almost a year ago, surveyors came to map out the area which according to her is national land, and marked off the land for private property to be sold, right in front of her property, but she says they did not exist before 2012 – the land was accreted with the building of the village dock.

Morales called it a “disservice” to the community for private land owners to lay claim to land used in its service – but it is something she says has been going on for many years, often with the complicity of the Lands Department

Another villager wrote us asking to know, “Could Placencia Village Council claim squatters’ rights due to upkeep and use of this property for the betterment of the Village?”

But it appears the sale took place about four months ago and the new owner wrote the Council a “cease-and-desist” letter barring them from using the area for such events as the annual village Lobster Fest in July.

Chairman Warren Garbutt told Channel 7 News the Council would at least ask back for the 0.4 acres of land which includes the boardwalk (the entire property is 1.8 acres). The area is in the Placencia harbour protected by the Placencia Caye and is mostly safe from sargassum for those who want to swim. He says the Council can’t even pick up garbage in the area.

Garbutt says they have been unable to apply for the parcel of land but are presently in negotiation with the Ministry of Natural Resources. According to CEO Paul Thompson in speaking to 7 News, the entire plot has been privately owned going back to the 1800s. Apparently, the public reserve land eroded naturally moving residents onto the private land. The CEO added, though, that they are planning to visit the village to see how they can help with investigating alternatives.

 

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