Lawsuit against NIA shut down

By Monique Washington

Ann Bass, a homeowner at Liburd Hill Village Nevis attempted to halt construction at the Candy Resort Villa, but after she took the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) to court, Justice Lorriane Williams reviewed her application and rejected it before it got to trial.

On Jan. 18, 2016, Bass, a Liburd Hill property-owner, had attorneys Damian Kelsick and Garth Wilkin, file an application for judicial review at the High Court in Charlestown. A judicial review is a court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. Judicial reviews challenge the way a decision has been made, rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached.

In the application, Kelsick and Wilkin challenged the decision the NIA Director of Physical Planning and the Development Advisory Committee made related to Candy Resort.

The judicial review came up for hearing on Feb. 2, 2016.

The official court documents state that Anne Bass applied for “leave to apply for judicial review, in particular to obtain an order of certiorari to remove into the high court and to  quash the  decisions of Director of Physical Planning  and the Development Advisory Committee granting permission to the Caribbean Development Consultant Ltd to construct a 17 building, 51 unit development with a guard house, restaurant, two parking lots, badminton courts and a volleyball site on 4.4 acres of coastal land in Liburd Hill referred to as the HTRIP Candy Resort Villa Development.”

Bass’s attorneys maintained that the Director  of Physical Planning and the Development advisory Committee acted without jurisdiction when they decided in April 2015 to grant permission to Caribbean Development Consultant Ltd. to construct Candy Resort Villa Development without an  Environmental Impact Assessment  (EIA)  for the materially revised plans, as required by law. “And because of this the actions of the direct of physical Planning should be null because of their failure to examine and take into account the environmental impact assessment.”

Bass also asked the court for the Caribbean Development consultant to provide a “complete and proper” environmental impact assessment as required by the Physical Planning Department.

Her attorney further requested the project be stopped until the court handed down its decision.

In response, Jean Dyer and Cleone Stapleton Simmonds, attorneys for the Director of Physical Planning and the Development Advisory Committee, submitted the affidavit of the assistant secretary in the Ministry of Communications, which stated that the “The EIA was undertaken for the initial project which was a  larger project of 26 villas and 72 units. This project was dense. I according required the developer to reduce the size of the development. I did not require the developer to conduct a new EIA because the revised project was a smaller project. They acceded and reduced the size of the development.”

The project being constructed presently consists of 17 buildings and 51 units which have been reduced from the original plan.

The lawyers for the respondents also submitted that Bass, filed an application for judicial review on Jan. 18, 2016 , nine months after the decision of the Director of Physical Planning was made on April 7, 2015 which would cause her application filing to be  outside the limitation period prescribed be section 2 of the Public Authority’s Protection Act of St Kitts and Nevis.

“I have considered counsel for the applicant (Bass) submission on this issue and in light of the evidence authorities and legislation I have great difficulty in accepting the submission,” Justice Williams said.

In Her  Ladyship Justice Lorraine Williams’ decision the court noted that the Bass judicial review application is statute barred under the act and the applicant’s challenge is without merit.

“The respondents acted within their jurisdiction and authority and they can rely on the protection of the six month limitation for instituting proceedings under the Public Authorities Protection Act,” Williams said.

All parties were asked to bear their own cost.