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Permit in place for wooden building in Dutch Quarter

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

DUTCH QUARTER – Despite some public uproar (mostly on Facebook) about a recently-erected wooden and zinc building in Dutch Quarter, the owner of the building is in possession of all the necessary permits, as granted by the government of St. Maarten. Based on information obtained from the Ministry of Public Housing and Spatial Development,Environment and Infrastructure VROMI, the owner submitted all of his building plans to obtain his permits to construct the building.   Even if inspectors at the Ministry and the general public believe a completely wooden structure is not safe on an island in the hurricane belt, there is little recourse available, as it was constructed based on the law and the permit.

Residents can press government and its inspectors only to ensure that the way the building is constructed is in keeping with the plan presented when the building permit was requested. If, for example, inspectors and/or structural engineers determine that the building is structurally unsound, the Minister can order its demolition. The other legal issue here is: who determines what a proper home is? Constructing a wooden home is not against regulations or any law. The owner of the building in question did receive a warning from inspectors during the long Carnival break in April, when construction started. Inspectors prepared advice for the Minister of Infrastructure recommending that construction be halted. However, no such order could be signed off because the owner of the building, thus far, is within his rights as stipulated in the permit. Residents who own property nearby have also argued that the presence of the building devaluates their property. As of Monday, no resident has filed an official complaint or protest. The permit was granted for the construction of a single-standing residential structure.

Bron: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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