Dispute over illegal building at Bobby’s Marina continuesPOSTED: 05/25/16 7:06 PM
The illegal filling in of Great Bay by Bobby’s Marina. Photo contributed
Vromi-ministry’s term to answer
Dock Maarten expires next week
St. Maarten News / By Hilbert Haar – The dispute between Dock Maarten and Bobby’s Marina over illegal building activities is far from over. The attorney for Dock Maarten, Roeland Zwanikken has filed a request for information to Vromi-Minister Angel Meyers based on the law on public administration. The deadline for providing the information expires next week Thursday.
Dock Maarten got involved in the matter after the Harbor Group of Companies objected against a building permit the company obtained for the construction of a breakwater on its water rights in Great Bay, adjacent to the property of Bobby’s Marina. Dock Maarten won a court case against the harbor about this issue but then saw to its amazement how its neighbor started driving piles into the water and filling in parts of Great Bay outside of its water rights and without a building permit.
On September 8 of last year, the minister of Vromi acknowledged in a letter to Dock Maarten that Bobby’s Marina is indeed building without a permit and that the minister “on principle” is obliged to maintain the law, that the law allows him to act against illegal building activities and that normally he has to use this authority.
Bobby’s Marina duly received a warning letter on July 29, 2015, but the company ignored it. Dock Maarten submitted a renewed request for maintaining the law on December 18. On January 6 of this year, the company sent an email asking Vromi to take a decision about enforcing the law within seven days. The ministry did not react. However, on the date Dock Maarten sent the email the ministry advised Bobby’s Marina to remove everything it built illegally within ten days. Again, the marina ignored this advice.
On January 14, Vromi-inspector Ellis informed Dock Maarten that his department is preparing ad advice for the minister to have the illegal constructions removed.
While the last days of May are disappearing from the calendar, nothing much has changed since that date. Bobby’s Marina continues with its project.
Intensified construction activities during the Carnival period have given Dock Maarten the impression that attempts are being made behind the scenes to legalize Bobby Marina’s building activities retroactively.
In this context, attorney Zwanikken refers in his letter to Vromi to a decree of September 8, 2015, that states: “For this parcel a long lease decree has been issued, but up to now the requester has failed to pass the notarial deed for establishing its business right.”
On January 20 the Secretary-General of Vromi, Louis Brown writes in an email: “While the stop order is in effect, Bobby’s Marina is in discussion with the government of St. Maarten about a request to obtain properties in long lease to formalize promises dating back years to issue the mentioned properties in long lease.”
Later, on February 4, Dock Maarten states in an email to Brown that Bobby’s Marina is not entitled to build without owning the water rights and without having a building permit.
Brown agrees, but only up to a point, because he replies: “It remains the discretion of the government to correct or fix a situation or not, based on the issuance of a building permit meeting the above criteria.”
Based on this information, Dock Maarten filed a new request under the law on public administration. In this request, the company asks the minister why the government has not taken measures against Bobby’s Marina. It also wants to know what the ministry’s policy is with regard to requests for legalizing illegal building activities retroactively. There are also questions about a (possible) building permit issued to Bobby’s Marina.
Furthermore, Dock Maarten points to the position of the Harbor Holding that nobody is allowed to build in Great Bay without its explicit permission and wonders if – in case Bobby’s Marina did obtain a building permit in the meantime – it also asked and obtained permission from the Harbor Holding.