News

Wait for Long Mountain decision almost over

BY PETRE WILLIAMS-RAYNOR Environment editor williamsp@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 03, 2012 | 11:42 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - The wait for the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) board’s decision on whether to allow the new housing development proposed for Long Mountain in the capital will soon be over.

Peter Knight, head of the National Environment and Planning Agency — the administrative arm of the NRCA board — told the Jamaica Observer Tuesday that the Technical Review Committee (TRC), which it hosts, had submitted a recommendation on the development to the board.

This follows its most recent meeting last month.

“The NRCA will consider the matter on the 16th of October,” he said, adding that a final decision would be made then.

The Housing Agency of Jamaica project is to see the development of 29.2 acres of land, while leaving 193.2 acres of the property for conservation and public open space. But the project has been plagued by concerns from residents in surrounding communities as well as environmentalists for at least two years now.

They have included concerns over sewage, traffic congestion and the loss of valued green space in the city. Further, the Earthquake Unit, based at the University of the West Indies, noted the risk of tremors were the area used for additional development.

Tuesday, Knight would not divulge what they had recommended. However, he noted that as per that recommendation, he had requested of the TRC — comprised of entities such as the Water Resources Authority and the Jamaica Bauxite Institute — he had himself made a special request of the committee members.

“The agency [NEPA] had said to Technical Review Committee that regardless of the recommendation you are going to make, we wanted an allowance to do two things,” Knight told the Observer.

“Firstly, that we brief the Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) on the preconditions for the permit because the dissipating manhole and sewage issues will have to be resolved as preconditions. And secondly, I asked the committee to allow me to brief the citizens so that they would not have to read it in the newspapers,” he added.

Residents of Beverly Hills and the Pines of Karachi were brought up to speed Tuesday.

“I briefed them today and told them that a recommendation is going forward to the authority,” Knight said, noting that representatives of the Water Resources Authority and the National Works Agency were present to answer questions from residents.

He added that the HAJ was similarly briefed more than a week ago.

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