Duncan signed draft lease for contested Vorst-property

POSTED: 06/27/14 1:48 AM

St. Maarten – Former Justice Minister Roland Duncan put his signature on draft long lease agreements for pieces of land in Cay Hill that were once destined to become the location of his ill-fated Justice Park. Prime Minister Wescot-Williams said yesterday answering a question from this newspaper that the signature on these draft-agreements with the Vorst-family is “from the former Minister of Justice.”

The Parliament meets this morning to discuss the deal Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake later signed with the family to buy the property outright for $5.5 million.

Wescot-Williams did not go into too many details at yesterday’s press briefing, but from her answers it could be devised that the purchase is not definite yet. Tomorrow morning, the Vorst-family takes the country to court in summary proceedings over the land deal that has been in the works ever since former Justice Minister Roland Duncan, then a member of the National Alliance-led government, presented his plan for a $100 million Justice Park.

Financial supervisor Cft blocked the deal by prohibiting St. Maarten taking out a $100 million loan against an interest rate of almost 10 percent.

Wescot-Williams said that the land-deal had been under discussion in the Council of Ministers for several weeks. She pointed out that Minister Lake would need the approval of the Council of Ministers to sign the deal on behalf of the country. “That has not been finalized. The matter is very much under discussion,” she said.

The long lease former Minister Duncan entertained that would have cost the country roughly $8.7 million. All this followed from a Letter of Intent that was binding according to the Department of Legal Affairs. That letter was signed during the time the National Alliance led the government.

According to our sources, there was no way to get away from the commitments in the Letter of Intent on the basis of unfulfilled conditions. This could for instance have been the requirement that a zoning plan or financing are in place. There is however a planning permit for the property that would have to be included in a future zoning plan.

According to our sources, $3 million of the purchase price is included in the 2014 budget and the remaining $2.5 million will be included in the 2015 budget.

The property-value was not established based on an appraisal, because there was a binding agreement in the Letter of Intent.

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