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Oct 13, 2011

Crooked Tree land problems straightened out

On Wednesday night we reported on a land controversy in Crooked Tree Village.  Earlier this week the residents said that Rose Kelly instructed workers to start development on a plot of land adjoining her property. The land she is claiming, according to the villagers, was acquired by government and distributed to them decades ago. Today we spoke via phone with Wilbert Vallejos, Commissioner of Lands in the Ministry of Natural Resources. Vallejos made a startling revelation that Kelly doesn’t own a thousand acres of land; that in fact she was erroneously given four titles that have now been revoked. Vallejos admitted that a mistake was made on the end of the Ministry of Natural Resources when an inspection report provided flawed information.

Via Phone: Wilbert Vallejos, Commissioner of Lands

“Miss Kelly has approached the Ministry; actually she was here this morning. Definitely the comment about she being in possession of a title of a thousand acres of land is not correct. Her title suggests that she is the proprietor of one thousand acres of land. There is a situation where in 1990 one thousand acres of land was acquired from the estate of Anne Gillett and as part compensation of the acquisition, Rose Kelly was the beneficiary to receive some land and some money as compensation of the acquisition that took place and she had approached the land and survey department in trying to settle that compensation situation and I believe the lands department proceed to give her four titles—not for one thousand acres of land; the four titles were for four lots. Lots 126, 79, 80 and 82. And the lots were given after a report was given to my office by personnel of the land and survey department; that the lands were available. And it was not until yesterday when we discovered that it was not precisely so and I had to send personnel from the lands department in Belmopan to confirm what was being alleged by community members of Crooked Tree. We had gotten a report that indicate that two of the lots that were given to Miss Rose Kelly that some part of the original acquisition were not available—not that any title had been issue to anyone else, but that the lands were occupied because the lands were still crown land or government land. I know there was a situation where Rose Kelly cut down trees and we sent personnel from the lands department to stop her in an effort to try and resolve the issue. She came to the office this morning and I explained to her that those two titles that were given to her will be taken back—block 82 and 80. Those were the two lots reported to me yesterday that were being developed; as a correction to the error.”

Andrea Polanco

“So commissioner, two lots remain—126 and 79. Now are there any residents occupying these two lots?”

Wilbert Vallejos

Via Phone: Wilbert Vallejos

“Lots 126 is occupied by George Gillett and 79 is occupied by an Elvis Tillett as we understand it. And we are not in possession of any application or any request to leave these persons land documents. But in the event of the development on the land, we will have to also revoke those titles.”

Andrea Polanco

“Revoke those titles—explain to me what you mean by revoking those titles commissioner.”

Via Phone: Wilbert Vallejos

“Clearly in the discussion that I had with Rose Kelly, I explained to her that the negotiations she has been having with the lands department—not precisely with my office, but personnel from the evaluation section and other sections—it was under the assumption that these lots were unoccupied. And when we checked the availability, we were told that the lands were not issued to anybody in the form of a title, which was true; nobody had any title over the land. We were under the impression that the lands were unoccupied and based on that impression, the titles were given to Miss Kelly. Clearly that is not the situation. After verification a second time, the inspector came back and said the lots are occupied.”

Andrea Polanco

“Isn’t this a standard measure that is usually undertaken by the Ministry of Natural Resources before a land is given out or something?”

Via Phone: Wilbert Vallejos

“It is, it is and like I said an inspection had been done in the month of august. Clearly the report that we got did not indicate that the lands were developed and we responded based on that and obviously it was an error because now had the inspection been done adequately and properly, we would have gotten a report indicating to us that the land are occupied and cannot be given out.”

Andrea Polanco

“Commissioner, going back to lot 80 that Miss Salas is in possession of; I mean her plot of land was actually the first that was touched in terms of her trees cutting down. Will there be some sort of compensation for this owner of that plot of lot?”

Via Phone: Wilbert Vallejos

“Definitely compensation will be done either on part of Rose Kelly or on part of the government.”

Andrea Polanco

“Commissioner what you are saying si that at this time, Miss Rose Kelly has absolutely no title for the one thousand acres that the villagers say she has been claiming?”

Via Phone: Wilbert Vallejos

“That’s right; she doesn’t have any title or the thousand acres. The only title Rose Kelly received from the department are those four titles that were issued to her in error. I’m sorry to say that but it was issued to her in error. And so the discussion to her this morning is that they will be revoked in an effort to settle this dispute and we will have to find another way to compensate her claim—definitely not on people’s development.”

Andrea Polanco

“So her claim for this one thousand acres clearly was invalid?”

Via Phone: Wilbert Vallejos

“No, her claim only supposed to be fifty three acres; not one thousand acres and she is very aware of that.”

Andrea Polanco

“And those fifty three acres are unoccupied at this time?”

Via Phone: Wilbert Vallejos

“I understand that some of it is occupied and some of it is unoccupied.”

Vallejos says that Kelly will be compensated as well as Laura Salas, whose trees were cut down by Kelly’s workmen.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Crooked Tree land problems straightened out”

  1. mustard says:

    other mis-deed done by the lands department, they act like they all lost, and, a sleep at the switch, they just take and give what dey want.

  2. Manuel Almendar says:

    Lands dept. better be careful!!! Not all are easy, bullets fly easy, be careful of your jobs, do it right, and do NOT try to be stupid with people lands !!!

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