Portmore Municipality Targets Illegal Buildings in Hellshire


The Portmore Municipal Council is in dialogue with informal settlers along the Hellshire foreshore, in an effort to stall the illegal building of permanent structures and to arrive at an amicable solution.
A number of illegally constructed commercial and housing settlements in the St. Catherine community were destroyed during Hurricane Ivan in September and persons have started to rebuild permanent structures without the proper building codes.
But the Portmore Municipal Council is seeking to stop the process and last month, served some 200 notices to persons in the area. “We have had several meetings with them and we’re trying to arrive at a peaceful consensus but as a Municipality this is something we have to do,” Mayor of Portmore George Lee told JIS News.
According to the Mayor, some persons asked to remain until after the Christmas season, as they had already started construction and had “gone a far way.”
However, the Mayor said, the Council would be enforcing the building codes and persons who were in violation would be removed. “They are not supposed to have permanent structures 100 feet from the high water mark there, and a number of them are in violation,” he stated.
Additionally, Mayor Lee informed, the Council was not happy with the increasing number of informal residences being constructed, noting that this could attract “criminal elements,” to the area. He said the Council would be working with these persons to find alternate accommodation. “We are not giving them houses but will show them lands on which they can build their houses,” he pointed out.
Another concern of the Municipality, Mayor Lee told JIS News, was the health risk associated with the lack of proper sanitary facilities at the site. “In the long run, we can’t have a situation where a beach like Hellshire is overrun with people coming to live, setting up permanent structures with all the sanitation and the health risks that are possible,” the Mayor said.
He disclosed that discussions were taking place between the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica and the Urban Development Corporation to finance the establishment of a sewage system for commercial interests in the Hellshire.

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