Residents at North Close, Wildey, St Michael, want the National Housing Corporation (NHC) to evict a “squatter” from the neighbourhood who they say is occupying several acres of Crown land.
The upset residents said the man moved into the neighbourhood about eight years ago and built a small shanty on the only vacant land in the Government terrace, but over the years he had taken up more and more land while his house had become bigger and bigger.
The house now cannot be seen since the man has surrounded the vast property with 16-foot-high galvanised sheets and bricks.
“Right now, he owns more land than the people out here that paying for their units,” said long-time resident Heather Mayers, who lives next door to the man.
She recalled that he started off with a small shanty before cutting down the trees and expanding.
“He add on more and more,” she said.
She pointed out that the galvanised sheeting around his house had also got higher and higher over the years to the point where nobody could see the property.
Gabriel Francis, who has lived at North Close Wildey for more than 40 years, has been at the forefront of getting the authorities to evict a man who he believes is illegally occupying land in the area. (Picture by Maria Bradshaw.)
Gabriel Francis, who has also lived in North Close since 1976, added that the man’s house stretched two streets – North Close to neighbouring Glendale Close.
What had him peeved about the situation was that the man had virtually blocked off a walkway between the terraces, as well as a driveway which Francis once used to get home.
“One time I could’ve drive my car from Glendale to my house, but he take up all the land. Now I have to drive all the way around Wildey to get home.”
In addition, Francis said, the man was very territorial about the land he was occupying.
“He comes out here and . . . tells [people] that they can’t walk on his land. I have called the police for him on several occasions but when they come, he does not answer,” Francis complained.
He said he was amazed that the relevant authorities had failed to deal with this situation, even though residents had contacted them on numerous occasions.
“I called and wrote to the NHC several times,” Francis revealed. “The last person that they sent came and took photos but nothing happened.
“I wrote Town and Country Planning and I received a response from Chief Town Planner Mr [Mark] Cummins telling me that they would treat it as an urgent matter. Up to now nothing has been done. I went to their office and they told me it may seem as though they are not doing anything, but they are working on it.”
Francis said while the man had utilities such as water and light at his house, he did not have a “real address”.
“He has his address listed as behind Block 3, North Close, Wildey.
As you might have noticed, all around him are Government houses – to the back, front and sides are Government houses. So there is no way that he could’ve gotten permission to build that there, which he claims he got permission [to do].”
As a last resort, Francis is planning to start a petition to have the resident removed and send it off to the Prime Minister, who is the minister responsible for Town Planning.
He said he believed that was the only way they could get the matter truly resolved.
“I believe that I will get something done because the Prime Minister cannot tolerate somebody illegally occupying Government land,” he reasoned.
This column was unable to speak to the tenant because there was no visible access to his home.
When contacted, Lanette Napoleon-Young, general manager of the NHC, issued this response: “Please note that the corporation is following up re this matter.” (MB)