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Furious Norbrook residents slam NEPA and KSAMC over new development

Residents in the upper St Andrew community of Norbrook have slammed the leadership at both the Kingston & St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) and National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) following the development of a now four storey apartment complex in the area.

The residents have questioned the grounds on which the project at 32 Norbrook Drive was given the go ahead, calling on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to intervene in the matter.

According to the residents, in the early stages of the development they had enquired about the approvals for the now-four storey building.

“There was no approval or permit to allow for four storeys. Imagine my surprise when one recently queried at the KSAMC, and there was suddenly an addendum approving an enclosure on the fourth floor,”read a letter from one of the concerned residents.

“It’s an absolute disgrace and speaks volumes about the leadership at the KSAMC, given mounting complaints by hard-working and decent residents across several communities in the city of Kingston, many of whom are fearful of going public, owing to the questionable background of some of these developers. NEPA is also in need of a shake-up, starting from the top,” added the resident.

What’s the big deal ?

One concerned resident explained that more additions are continually being made to the building which is already expected to put a strain on resources in the area.

“The increased density on these lots, and taller buildings, what infrastructure do we have to support them? There’s more pressure on water, sewage, traffic; and God forbid if there is a fire, how do the local authorities access the building?” questioned the resident

“Climate change is also a grave concern, and it seems every single over-50-year-old tree was removed,” added the resident.

The Den reached out to both the KSAMC and NEPA regarding the matter.

According to the KSAMC, after learning of the residents concerns an urgent meeting was called with key members of the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation’s Engineering Department as well as members of the political directorate.

“The meeting concerned efforts to increase enforcement and community engagement with regard to developments and approvals as the KSAMC continues to emphasize and enforce adherence to best practises in building construction and developments across the municipality,” read a release from KSAMC.

While Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams did not address the specific resident concerns he noted that going forward the KSAMC would establish a review panel to deal specifically with multi-family developments, that generally cause concern among residents.

“We all have a role to play and I hereby urge all developers to act responsibly. One way in doing so is by posting the relevant notices to raise awareness so that residents are given ample time to voice their concerns,” the Mayor stated.

“The Corporation will be embarking on a series of meetings with residents across the municipality concerning developments whereby we will take feedback from them, discuss concerns by residents and also inform them about the various laws that govern building and town planning as we continue serving our citizens through participation and promoting public awareness,” Mayor Williams stated.

The KSAMC also used the occasion to remind developers that the Intend to Build notice is required under the Building Act and failure to post same can render any approval null and void.

The corporation noted that these notices give residents ample time to voice their concerns

“The KSAMC will require community surveys for developments as a feature of the application and approval process for developments that are not in keeping with the character of communities in which they fall,” added the corporation in a release.

At the time of publication, NEPA said it was still making checks on the matter.

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