Belize - Belize News - Channel5Belize.com - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Featured, Miscellaneous, People & Places » D.O.E. Issues Stop Order to CitCo, Businessman Haisam Diab Over Proposed Seaside Restaurant
Oct 22, 2018

D.O.E. Issues Stop Order to CitCo, Businessman Haisam Diab Over Proposed Seaside Restaurant

If you’ve been by Marine Parade lately, you may have noticed a building being erected along the seaside, beside the south end of the Ramada Princess Hotel. Construction began a few weeks ago and the idea is to establish a family-oriented restaurant. Well, that’s the plan of Hiasam and Ekaterina Diab, who entered into a thirteen-year lease agreement with the Belize City Council in September, following the approval of the business venture which had been presented to the Mayor Bradley City Council.  Now, while the Department of Environment has given the green light for dredging and other activities in the marine protected areas and elsewhere, DOE has issued a stop order, halting the construction of the restaurant.  D.O.E. says there is concern over any environmental impact the restaurant would have on marine life since it is being built a few feet away from the sea. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo has the story.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

The Department of Environment has issued a stop order to the Belize City Council and businessman Haisam Diab. Construction of a commercial building, measuring one hundred and four feet by forty-five feet along Marine Parade, feet away from the sea has been put on pause following that stop order. The order was issued on October seventeen and Chief Environment Officer, Martin Allegria tells Diab and the City Council that they have embarked in the construction of a commercial development without applying and receiving environment clearance from the DOE.

 

Voice of: Haisam Diab, Businessman

“Basically, they came out there and they asked us three questions. On this plan we do not see anything on the disposal of garbage, one. We do not see where your green strap is blowing, two and three we do not see how you will dispose of your sewer. I said, well it is very simple. The reason why you don’t have those in this plan is because we are waiting for one other signature for someone who is away. We are not building on top of the sea. We are building on land. So we expressed to them first of all for a project so small I did not realized that the Department of Environment would get involved. It is just a restaurant. There are many restaurants around Belize and I am sure they don’t go through that type of scrutiny.”

 

Workers were sent home and the building stands unfinished. The idea to build a family-oriented restaurant on that specific location along the seaside was birthed more than a year ago. Moves were made to have the plans approved under the previous city council but the application was never processed. The proposal was taken to the current city council which approved the plans only to have it halted by DOE. Attorney Ashanti Arthurs Martin says DOE’s stop order was not clear.

 

Ashanti Arthurs Martin

Ashanti Arthurs Martin, Attorney

“There have been some discussions with the Chief Environmental Officer. That was just done on Thursday if I can recall. I do not know at this point the extent of the reasons for objecting. The stop order that was issued was not clear as to the specific reasons for objecting. So we are waiting to see what the Chief Environmental Officer is going to say and based on the response that comes we will look at the legal recourse would be. I looked at the applicable laws and in particular they cited an area of the law that I looked at. From my review of the law, I do not see that it is automatic. The overriding consideration under the act is whether or not there is going to be a significant impact on the environment. So the question is a restaurant of this scale which is not a large restaurant, going to have a significant impact on the environment. As far as I am aware, this development isn’t over the sea so it is not interfering on marine life as such. This is a simple construction of a restaurant on a plot of land. Yes it may be near the sea but it is on the land. So I do not know what environmental impact the Department of Environment considers that the development would have.”

 

Martin says that the development should not have triggered DOE but since it has, the developer met with officials to ascertain the specific concerns. Meanwhile, on September seventh, Ekaterina Diab and the Belize City Council entered into a thirteen-year lease agreement at two thousand dollars per month- that’s a total of three hundred and twelve thousand dollars at the end of the thirteen years.

 

Ashanti Arthurs Martin

“The agreement is that Mrs. Diab will develop this property into a restaurant as described and the intended investment is to be about three hundred thousand. You can’t improve a property for three hundred thousand and at the same time pay rent as you go along. So the agreement as with any other lease of this nature where there is improvement to property, this improvement is an upfront payment of your rent for approximately thirteen years. So, once the investment is made, the building is built, its built on the council’s land. This is the council’s land at the end of the day not Mrs. Diab’s. So what she has done in essence is to prepay her rent for thirteen years. So what you have is basically an account against which the two thousand per month will be deducted and this is how the thirteen years is arrived at.”

 

So at the end of the thirteen years, the rent will be due if the lease is renewed. The City Council will then take ownership of the building. The lease can be terminated by either party on a sixty- days notice. The Belize City Council says that the investor will restore and improve the aesthetics of the immediate area with a child-friendly recreational playground and improved lighting.

 

 

Voice of: Haisam Diab

“We will be selling pizzas and salads and all kind of treats for the kids. Secondly, we will not be applying for any hard liquor license because that is not what we want. What we want to do is to have an affordable, family friend place where kids can go along with their parents and have a good time in a safe environment with fresh air.  I wouldn’t have thought it would have been political but after hearing people calling and telling me that people were attacking me on the radio then I almost want to think so. On the other h and I am surprised because I know Mr. Finnegan extremely well. He knows my number. We are good friends. He could have asked me for the plans and I would have been more than happy to disclose it to him.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


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.

Advertise Here

You must be logged in to post a comment Login