Greenwood residents protest after flooding allegedly caused by new development

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GREENWOOD, St James —The St James Municipal Corporation (SJMC) is threatening court action against the property owner of a multimillion-dollar development who has reportedly defied stop orders from the municipality and the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) following reports of flooding, allegedly resulting from the dumping of a canal that takes water to the sea from this community.

“Based on consultation yesterday [Tuesday] I heard that a stop order has been served and the matter will be going to the courts. I think the persons who are doing it [development] have no regard for authority, no regard for the the agencies. So this action is necessary. Both NEPA and the parish council have served notice,” Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the Rose Hall Division Anthony Murray told reporters.

However, the property owner, Robert Stephens, said he has neither received a stop order from the SJMC nor NEPA.

“I never got any stop order from parish council, that’s a lie. NEPA never handed me any. Probably they left it on the land but I never saw any,” Stephens told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview.

Fed up with the floodwaters in their community since the dumping of the land, which has covered a massive drain that channels water to the sea, members of the Greenwood Citizens’ Association on Wednesday staged a protested in front of the SJMC building in Montego Bay after staging a similar protest near the development in their community.

Madge Neil Burnett, president of the Greenwood Citizens’ Association, explained that because the drain is blocked, as a result of the development, sections of the community, which she has called home for the past 38 years, are covered with floodwaters whenever it rains.

“When it rains the water backs up and people cannot go into their house. We talking about three, four feet of water especially right there. So we are here today because we called the parish council [and] they said they would look into it and it was not done. We talked to NEPA and I don’t know what happened to those letters… its as if they are in File 13, I don’t know. So we really want to know what is happening now and need the Government to intervene,” Burnett disclosed.

“Since last week they [developer] have started to build walls so we see it is getting very serious,” added Burnett.

Anthony Rodgers, operator of a car dealership which borders the development, also complained of inconvenience himself and his customers have suffered because of flooding whenever it rains.

“I have a business here, I also reside here and I am deeply affected by the kind of situation we are going through. Whenever it rains I can’t get into my place, I can’t do anything at all. My customers are greatly affected just the same and it has been a disaster for me. So I would like the Government to just step in, clear this up so we can live peacefully and have a good relationship,” Rodgers pleaded.

But Stephens, who has now commenced the construction of a wall and a culvert in the area of the blocked drain, is adamant that he is acting within his rights.

“It is my property. I should have the legal right to use the full boundaries of all my property,” he said.

“I am in complete support and solidarity with the residents of Greenwood as it relates to an infrastructure development that is taking place blocking the drains out there causing flooding in the area. The matter has been brought to the St James Municipal Corporation at our planning and infrastructure meeting and notice has been served to the persons who have been doing this development, however, we realise that the action has not abated,” Councillor Murray stated.

“And so the residents have decided to take action to pressure other agencies, not just the municipal corporation, but the National Work Agency and NEPA to ensure that this development and infrastructure problem that is affecting the area is resolved. One of the problems that happens is once it rains the entire Greenwood area is flooded.”

Trevor Burnett Junior, businessman in Greenwood is also calling on NEPA, the SJMC and the National Works Agency to quickly intervene in the matter.

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