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Sep 16, 2014

Is Sunset Cove Subdivision in San Pedro Manny Heredia’s Idea?

In Monday’s newscast, we showed you an innovative new underwater subdivision planned in north Ambergris Caye. It’s allegedly the brainchild of Area Representative, Manuel Heredia, and the San Pedro Town Council has disassociated itself from it. As we understand it, forty acres of lagoon and wetlands in an area known as Sunset Cove have been subdivided, to be distributed as house lots. Only thing is, all those new lots are under water. And if that’s not bad enough, the only access from San Pedro Town to the new subdivision is by boat. To add to the mess, the area is part of a proposal for a marine reserve expansion which has been before Cabinet for the past three years. Our News Five team has been trying to get some answers and Mike Rudon has the story. 


Mike Rudon, Reporting

This area covered in survey pegs is known as Los Bajos. It’s a small part of a larger proposed expansion to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade says they got involved because of advocacy to bring focus management and protection to the area. Wade says the people of San Pedro were concerned because of the traditional, ecological, economic and touristic value of the lagoon and wetlands. The Fisheries Department was approached and given a formal mandate by the Ministry to develop a plan for the protection of those sensitive ecosystems.


Beverly Wade

Beverly Wade, Fisheries Administrator

“What it led to was a proposal for what we refer to as the Hol Chan expansion and it really included not only the lagoon and wetland areas in the Mata Chica area but it also included the Cayo Frances lagoon, the associated reef adjacent to that area, which is referred to locally as Mexico Rocks, and on the western side it included what we refer to as Bajos…which are shoals, some areas which if you look at it it’s like open sea but it’s pretty shallow water that is important for the tourism sector. It’s also important in terms of its ecological function in providing nursery areas and critical habitats for certain species.”


A management plan was developed, along with draft legislation, and forwarded to the Ministry to be considered by Cabinet for endorsement of the designation of the area. That’s where it has been for the past three years.


Beverly Wade

“We also applied for a PACT grant to assist with the implementation of management on the ground. So that grant was granted to us. However we haven’t received the formal endorsement for the designation yet and so PACT administratively has said that they would have to rescind the grant because they are given for a certain timeframe for implementation.”


In the event that Cabinet does give its endorsement, PACT would be willing to consider an application for another grant. But that endorsement seems a little unlikely with the subdivision in full effect in the area known as Los Bajos. There is nothing the Fisheries Department can do at this point. But the department is convinced of the validity and necessity of the request made to Cabinet. Wade says they wouldn’t have signed on otherwise.


Beverly Wade

“There is an ecological function and there is a certain level of connectivity which exists between each of those ecosystems – between the shoals on the western side, the lagoonal wetlands and of course the reef systems. And yes these areas naturally form these nursery areas so what they have is a lot of juvenile fish which attracts some of the best fly-fishing, sport fishing species like the bonefish, tarpon and permit, so the shoals are an especially important area for the tourism sector.”


With all that said, the reality is that the island is growing and there is the need for land. That need for land over the years has created slum communities on the island where people live in extreme poverty without even basic necessities. Taking into account the fact that the “land” being given out is covered by three feet of water, San Pedro resident Jose Arceo says there is the need for proper planning of any new subdivision planned.


Jose Arceo

Jose Arceo, San Pedro Resident

“There are areas here that were kinda like swamp land where they gave out lots. To this day, twelve or fifteen years after, still don’t have power, or sewerage or a road to get to where the people are living. Now to start another one with no kind of infrastructure…to me it doesn’t make any sense. Open up the north and give the people good land.”


Beverly Wade

“Development in that area is not a straightforward issue. The issue of availability of land for the future expansion of San Pedro is one that has to be taken into consideration, so there are national lands in that area that are looked at for future expansion in San Pedro. It is hoped that when expansion does happen in that area that the characteristics of that area are taken into consideration if you’re now going to subdivide it for whatever development you’re looking at.”


News Five has confirmed that the subdivision is being handled directly through the office of Belize Rural South Area Representative Manuel Heredia, and not through the San Pedro Town Council. Mike Rudon for News Five.


Following our story which aired Monday night, News Five received several calls from angry San Pedro residents who were shocked to discover that the lots they paid for were underwater. We’ve confirmed that all persons who received lots in the new subdivision had to pay five hundred and fifty dollars toward the cost of the survey. That money was paid directly to the office of Heredia on the island. We were also able to confirm that the residents have been told that they will have to make an additional payment at the end of the month, when they will receive their lease documents.

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 “Is Sunset Cove Subdivision in San Pedro Manny Heredia’s Idea?”

  1. jake says:

    “Pave Paradise and put up a parking lot”. Joni Mitchell U tube

  2. Baba says:

    Please vote this idiot Heredia out of office. Thank you, Problem solved.

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