An agreement between the government and the New Birth Gospel Tabernacle over the land dispute has been reached.
The New Birth Gospel Tabernacle members had to move out of their Cabbage Tree Housing home last year, when they were set to reconstruct a new sanctuary after the congregation had outgrown their previous building.
When construction of the new sanctuary was set to begin, the church was hit with an objection to the project and had to halt as area residents petitioned against a church being constructed in that location. The government met with the church leader Bishop Cyprian Williams and negotiated an offer the church is willing to accept.
Federation Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr., Speaking in Parliament, indicated the government and the church had agreed on an exchange following multiple valuations on the lots. “The lots themselves were less than 10,000 square feet and there was a low valuation of $85,000 dollars done by the Lands and Surveys of the government and a much more favourable valuation done by land surveyor Ashton Leader of $161,000 dollars,” he said.
He indicated that the land that was to be exchanged with New Birth which was accepted had a much higher value.
“A low value of $370,000 dollars and a high value of $544,000 dollars, but if one were to take the most favourable valuation the value of the land that they owned in Cabbage Tree at $161,000 and the low value of the land that was to be exchanged, this valuation done by Mr. Ashton Leader, of $370,000 dollars, you would note that this was in excess of $200,000 dollars.”
Byron indicated that the government had been generous in the swap arrangement. “There are some who seem to suggest that the government should want to pay more, I should add that in our discussions with representatives of New Birth the government did provide a bulldozer to clear the land.”
He added, “The government did provide a topographical survey which was provided for New Birth and we believe that we have been very accommodating and very generous in our dealings with New Birth and we believe that this matter should come to an end.”
The church had grown unhappy with how the government had handled the situation which led Bishop Williams to lead a one man protest outside Government Headquarters.
The church had to lease land and erect a temporary structure in order to host the Sunday worship and other activities. Williams thought that the government ought to be responsible for any monies that the church had to spend during their displacement.
The church also noted that they had already paid for the excavation of the old land and the laying of the foundation.