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Gov't in dispute with landowners over land access @ Belmont Estate

-Ministry of Communications and Works pre-empt landowners and closed road
The Smith Family Patriach, Mr Lemuel L. Smith blocked road he had allowed through his property—Belmont Estate—for lack of action on the part of the NDP administration. Photo: Team of Reporters
The NDP Gov't announced the reopening of the road, with the temporary fix so they no longer have to use Mr. Smith’s family land. Photo: Team of Reporters
The NDP Gov't announced the reopening of the road, with the temporary fix so they no longer have to use Mr. Smith’s family land. Photo: Team of Reporters
Many residents said the short term fix was not a long term solution and Mr Smith was also asking for a proper solution including a sea-defence wall. Photo: Team of Reporters
Many residents said the short term fix was not a long term solution and Mr Smith was also asking for a proper solution including a sea-defence wall. Photo: Team of Reporters
BELMONT ESTATE, Tortola, VI - The Smith family of Belmont Estate, got a ‘knife in their back’ from the National Democratic Party (NDP) Administration.

It was after the Hurricanes of 2017, which destroyed many of the road infrastructure, that out of the kindness of their hearts the family allowed access to their private land, so people could traverse the Belmont Estate area of Tortola.

The public access road was destroyed by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. In January of 2018, the family headed by Lemuel L. Smith aka ‘Chi Chi,’ wrote to Government advising them that the situation whereby the family was allowing the use of their land as a public access road, cannot continue permanently, and urged them to address the damaged public road.

According to Mr Smith, Government via the Ministry of Communications and Works were not responsive.

He continued to say that a month later, another letter was sent to the Ministry and he was advised that the Public Works Department (PWD) was working on a proposal.

He was never involved in what they were working to ascertain the likely impact on his family and land.

Landowner closed this road

In July 2018, some five months later, Mr Smith wrote to Government again, and this time they agreed to a site visit. 

He also warned them that if something was not done by Saturday, July 28, 2018, he “will close the road” which he had allowed them to use free of cost for over ten months.

He also, on behalf of his family, demanded to be compensated; however, Government refused—and even rejected—the amount proposed.  

A site visit was made on Friday, July 27, 2018, and Mr Smith also reminded them about his plans to close the road.  

Embarrassed by their lack of action for almost ten months, Government went behind the land owners’ back and issued a notice on Friday, July 27, 2018, that the road at Belmont Estate would be closed until Tuesday, July 31, 2018, to fool the public that it was because of them the road was being closed.

On Saturday, Mr Smith kept his word and closed off his road. 

 It forced Government into action whereby they installed a temporary road adjacent to Mr Smith’s land on Saturday and Sunday. 

 They have since announced the reopening of the road, with the temporary fix so they no longer have to use Mr. Smith’s family land.

Short term fix road reopened

However, many residents said the short term fix was not a long term solution and Mr Smith was also asking for a proper solution including a sea-defence wall.

The Ministry of Communications and Works Permanent Secretary, Anthony S. McMaster, did not respond to our queries on the future of the Belmont Estate road.  

Governments, over the years, have a history of blatant disregard for property rights in the Virgin Islands and have taken advantage of many land owners without compensation.

 

3 Responses to “Gov't in dispute with landowners over land access @ Belmont Estate”

  • one eye (30/07/2018, 14:41) Like (10) Dislike (4) Reply
    We got get rid of this crew not to worry
  • brent (30/07/2018, 17:31) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
    Government know they are wrong and have a history of doing this. In the future, everyone should get a legal written proposal if government want to “temporarily “ use thier land, so they have legal proof and be compensated for it. Mr Smith did not ask for money, but government should have given him something and should not have ignored his letters.
    • @ brent (31/07/2018, 03:39) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
      Government did say that they are willing to put a wall there but Mr Smith think it's inadequate.


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