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Sep 14, 2020

Belmopan CitCo, Area Rep John Saldivar & Developer David Zabaneh Meet over Market Issue in the Capital City!

On the morning of September fourth, more than thirty vendors from Belmopan and surrounding communities were up in arms because they were removed from the proposed site of the Belmopan Market Plaza, which sits on the south ring road and the Bliss Parade in the capital. The vendors complained bitterly that current market arrangements are just not working out for them so they were ready to take their business on the property of private developer David Zabaneh. And as we showed you – police didn’t allow them to do that. So, to date, no one has been allowed to conduct business from the site. And as we had reported, the city council issued a statement to say that they developer needed the proper license to conduct business from the property. Well, today, Zabaneh and his attorney met with Mayor Khalid Belisle, his city councilors and the area representative John Saldivar. We were outside the Belmopan City Council following the meeting to find out what’s the status of the proposed market space. Here’s the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

What’s the future of the proposed Belmopan Market Plaza? Developer David Zabaneh and his attorney Norman Moore attended a meeting today with the Belmopan City Council to find that out. Area Representative John Saldivar – who we caught leaving the premises shortly after eleven – was also a part of the meeting. Attorney Moore tells us about what transpired inside.


Norman Moore

Norman Moore, Attorney for David Zabaneh

“In this meeting, I should point out this is the second meeting which is very good because we are progressing and we are trying to get this market up and running. I was surprised that the area representative was here as you all have seen. Today was a very significant day. It was a good day. I can’t say it was bad. There are certain issues that need to be ironed out. My client is of the opinion that he can get that done and he will get that done in a timely manner, nuh, I mean sometime this week I would believe. It is just a dialogue that we want to have with the council because the council wants to have input in this thing and we understand their concerns and what we are trying to do is to try and put forward our view and to say this is not a fly by night thing. This is one that will come and try to change the entire aesthetics of the city and this will try and keep that vibe.”


Andrea Polanco

“Sir, you expressed surprise at the area rep being here. Why is that and what role did he play in this meeting?”


Norman Moore

“I expressed surprise because the last time I was here, it was just the council and I believe it was just going to be the council that would have their input in it since they have the management of the city. Since they invited the area rep in here it does speak leaps and bounds to say they want to get it off the ground which that was his sentiment coming into this whole thing.”


Over a week ago, when vendors tried to set up tents and sell – they were removed. That’s because according to the City Council, Zabaneh doesn’t hold a trade license to operate a market. Today, we asked Moore if this issue has been sorted out:


Norman Moore

“Currently not as yet. It hasn’t been fully worked out as yet because you know this is something new to Belmopan. But the Council needs to go and reassess the fees that they need to charge because you have to remember that you won’t only have peddlers there but you will also have those who will have a general trade license. So, there is an instance where they will need to go and recalculate and come back to us with a figure.”


…and with all the paper-work to be done and requirements to be met, it means that the vendors will have to wait it out before they are able to sell from this new site. While there is no projected date for the completion of the project – complying with the Council’s requirements indicates there will be a delay for the developer – he can, however, go ahead and develop his property with some conditions.


Norman Moore

“I mean it does affect the project substantially because my client has already put down thousands of dollars into the land already as you all had seen. It is a pause in the whole construction or getting it to completion but I am happy to say that the council is willing to collaborate with us which is a good sign.”


Andrea Polanco

“So, for now your client holds off on the development of this property?”


Norman Moore

“No. He doesn’t hold off on everything. He can still go ahead and develop the land and try to process and get everything up to what they want, or their standard that they want because I believe their whole thing is the aesthetics of how it would look. I understand that the Belmopan residents don’t want another “tent city” as what they said in there. But that is not the plan that my client has for this project any at all.”


…and after the meeting today, developer David Zabaneh says he is hopeful that they can chart a way forward that is in line with the Council’s vision for the Capital City.


David Zabaneh, Developer

“We are not here to challenge the system – they are coming up with new rules for this project and what I should have been a straightforward process turned out to this. So, we are trying to comply. Our main goal is to get the vendors back into central Belmopan and get them selling. There is a huge time issue here where we need them working again. We need to put them to work.   I hope that sooner we can come to an agreement and a solution to get the market up and running.”


David Zabaneh

Andrea Polanco

“Are you leaving this meeting feeling hopeful – moving forward?”


David Zabaneh

“Yes, I believe so. So far I have taken a lot of hits in the past. It is nothing I can’t overcome. It is nothing we can’t overcome. So, yes.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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