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Placencia Land issues

Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2023. 1:59 pm CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Charles Leslie, Former Chairperson of Placencia: LAND ACCRETION

In Belize, the law on land accretion is based on the common law principle of “accretion.”

This means that land which has been added to the coastline or riverbank by natural processes such as deposition of soil or sediment, belongs to the owner of the adjacent land.

The Land Utilization Act of Belize (Chapter 188 of the Laws of Belize) governs the allocation, use, and management of land in Belize, including issues related to land accretion.

According to the act, the Minister responsible for land may declare an area of land to be public land, which means that it is owned by the government and is available for public use.

If land has accreted to public land, the government is responsible for managing it, and it cannot be sold or otherwise disposed of without proper authorization.

On the other hand, if land has accreted to private land, the owner of the adjacent land may apply for a title for the new land through the land registry. Reference: Section of three of the LUA.

It is important to note that in Belize, as in many other countries, the law on land accretion is complex and can be affected by various factors such as historical use and customary rights.


If the public has been using land that has accreted to public land for decades, the situation can become more complicated.

In Belize, as in many other countries, there are laws that protect customary rights and land use practices that have developed over time.

If the public has been using the accreted land for a long time, they may have acquired certain rights to use the land under the principle of “customary use.”

Customary use refers to the long-standing, established use of land by a community, which can create legal rights to use the land even if there is no formal title.

In such cases, the government may need to balance the competing interests of the public and the owner of the adjacent land when deciding what to do with the accreted land.

This may involve negotiations and possibly even legal action to determine the appropriate use of the land.


Land issues that have been affecting Placencia for decades:

Placencia, like many other parts of Belize, has had its share of land issues over the years.

Some of the key land issues affecting Placencia include:

  1. Land disputes: There have been several land disputes in Placencia over the years, with conflicting claims over ownership of land. These disputes can arise due to unclear boundaries, overlapping land titles, or conflicting land use agreements.
  2. Coastal erosion and land accretion: As a coastal village, Placencia is susceptible to erosion and land accretion, which can result in changes to the coastline and the loss of land. This can lead to disputes over ownership of newly formed land and can have an impact on the local fishing and tourism industries.
  3. Development pressure: Placencia has seen significant development in recent years, with new housing developments, hotels, and resorts being built along the coast. This can lead to conflicts over land use and ownership, as well as concerns over environmental impacts and sustainability.
  4. Land speculation: Like many other parts of Belize, Placencia has experienced land speculation, where land is bought and sold for profit without any intention of using or developing the land. This can lead to issues with vacant land, neglected properties, and disputes over ownership.
  5. Land use planning: Placencia has experienced rapid growth and development in recent years, which has highlighted the need for effective land use planning and management. There is a need for clear regulations and guidelines on land use and development to ensure the sustainable growth and development of the village while protecting the environment and the rights of local communities.

Placencia Point

Placencia Point is a narrow strip of land located at the southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula in Belize.

It is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, who love to swim and hang out on the municipal pier.

It is known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and stunning sunsets.

The Placencia Point – which is a stretch of about one mile starting at sunset point going east – This area is home to a number of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and shops, making it a hub of activity in the area.

Visitors enjoy a variety of activities, such as swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and kayaking, as well as exploring the village via the main sidewalk (for pedestrian traffic only) and the road (for vehicles and bicycles, mostly) and natural attractions.

What happens once a person gets the title to land accretion?

In the past 4 months, title to land accretion was completed by the owner of the adjacent property at the Placencia Point.

Inclusive of .4 acres which have been utilized by the Placencia Village Council and the public at large for well over the past decades.

It is important to note: Placencians have been utilizing the beaches of Placencia since the first settlers. And the people have always invested time, money, blood, sweat, and soul into maintaining the beach and other public spaces.

Once a person gets title to land accretion, they become the legal owner of the newly formed land.

This means they have the right to use and occupy the land, as well as the right to sell, lease, or transfer ownership of the land.

I repeat and add:

It’s important to note that obtaining title to land accretion can be a complex process, and there may be legal requirements and regulations that must be followed.

In Belize, the government has the authority to grant title to land accretion, and the process may involve a survey of the land, an application to the government, and a fee.

The potential impacts of obtaining title to land accretion are important for the government to consider.

Depending on the location and size of the land, there may be environmental considerations, such as impacts on wildlife habitat, beach access, or coastal erosion.

Additionally, there may be social or cultural considerations, such as impacts on traditional land use by the local community.

Overall, obtaining title to land accretion can be a significant opportunity for individuals or businesses, but it’s important to consider the legal, environmental, and traditional land use implications before proceeding with the process.

Placencia Village Council Potential (Realistic) Options:


In this situation, the Placencia Village Council may be able to negotiate with the new landowner to allow continued public use of the .4 acres of land.

Here are some potential negotiation strategies:

  1. Offer compensation: The Placencia Village Council could offer to compensate the landowner for the use of the land. This compensation could take the form of a monetary payment or other benefits such as advertising or promotion of the landowner’s business.
  2. Establish a partnership: The Placencia Village Council could propose a partnership with the landowner to jointly manage the property for public use. This could include a formal agreement outlining the responsibilities and benefits of each party, such as maintenance, security, and use of the property.
  3. Highlight community benefits: The Placencia Village Council could emphasize the positive impact that public use of the land has on the local community, such as promoting tourism, supporting local businesses, and providing access to public events and recreation.
  4. Explore alternative solutions: The Placencia Village Council could explore alternative solutions to meet the community’s needs for public space, such as identifying other areas for events or negotiating the use of other nearby properties.

Overall, negotiation requires communication, flexibility, and compromise from both parties.

The Placencia Village Council should approach the landowner with a spirit of collaboration and seek to find a mutually beneficial solution for both the community and the landowner.

Placencia Village Council Potential (Semi to Un – Realistic) Options:


Eminent domain is a legal concept that allows the government or authorized entity to acquire private property for public use, subject to payment of just compensation to the property owner.

In Belize, eminent domain is generally governed by the Land Acquisition Act, which sets out the legal procedures for the acquisition of land for public purposes.

If the Placencia Village Council is unable to negotiate a satisfactory agreement with the landowner for the continued use of the .4 acres of land, they may consider asking the government to intervene via the option of eminent domain.

However, it’s important to note that the use of eminent domain is generally considered a last resort, as it involves the taking of private property and can be a contentious and costly process.

Before invoking eminent domain, the Placencia Village Council would need to follow the legal procedures set out in the Land Acquisition Act.

This would involve conducting a public hearing and providing the landowner with notice of the proposed acquisition, as well as offering just compensation for the property.

Additionally, it’s important to note that the use of eminent domain may be subject to legal challenge by the landowner, and can be a lengthy and complex process.

As such, the Placencia Village Council may wish to explore other negotiation strategies before considering the use of eminent domain as a last resort.


To the new owner of the property at Point Placencia: on behalf of the founding families of Placencia, and all the residents of Placencia; I want to extend a warm welcome to you and your family.

Our community has a long and proud history, and we are happy to have you as a new member.

I wish you all the best with your new property and hope you will come to love Placencia as much as we do.

Disclaimer: I have no legal background. This is being written based on my research and my interpretation, experience…and as a son of the soil, coming from two of the six founding families. Born in Placencia Village. Delivered by Athelio Cabral. Raised and still live here. If any information is inaccurate, feel free to correct it.

Charles Leslie Jr. is the former independent Chairman of Placencia Village (2010 – 2013). He holds an Associates degree in business, accounting and economics and has over 20 years business experience.



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