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Long Mountain subdivision to get NRCA approval

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

Sunday, November 11, 2012    

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THE Housing Agency of Jamaica (HAJ) is to receive the longed-for approval of the Natural Resources Conservation Authority (NRCA) to develop its proposed housing subdivision in Long Mountain, St Andrew.

Peter Knight, chief executive officer of the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) — the administrative arm of the NRCA board — said the board was "mindful to approve the development" at their last meeting on October 16.

However, the HAJ has yet to receive the permit, the issuance of which is contingent on their satisfying some conditions.

"One of the conditions is that the design for the sewerage infrastructure has to be approved," Knight told the Jamaica Observer in a November 7 interview.

"They are going to lay out on a sub-division once they get the approval, so they have to show us the design. We want to see the design for the sewerage network, which would deal with the pipe and connections and so on, and how it is going to be connected into the central system," he added.

The design, Knight said, will have to be approved by NEPA and the National Water Commission (NWC). Also, he noted that there would need to be some additional "inter-ministerial and inter-agency discussion" on the matter though he would not say precisely why this was necessary.

Since the proposed subdivision came to the public's attention some two years ago, it has attracted controversy with its upscale neighbours — the Pines of Karachi and Beverly Hills communities — concerned over how it would impact them.

The concerns have ranged from the likely pile-up of traffic with the addition of new homes to implications for water supply and water quality, sewage, the likelihood of flooding and the loss of green space.

According to Knight, there is an existing issue with the sewerage system in the Pines of Karachi area which some residents thought could be exacerbated by the new development. That, he said, would have to be resolved by the NWC, with an enforcement notice recently issued to see that gets done.

Checks with NEPA's Director of Legal Services Robert Collie confirmed the agency had on October 28 served the NWC an enforcement notice.

"It was served in relation to the drain adjacent to Wellington Glades. Based on a report received... we observed a six-inch PVC pipe affixed to a gully wall. The pipe is coming from the Karachi lift station. The report received was that there was a malodour," he said.

"When we visited, we did not notice the malodour, but nevertheless the presence of the pipe seems to indicate that there should not be a pipe there; that is what our engineers have advised. And so we have told them [NWC] they should not discharge from this pipe because the way the life station is to operate is that it should carry directly to the central sewerage lines and should not be discharging into the gully," Collie added.

All other matters, Knight said, have been resolved.

The NEPA boss said they had also reduced the number of proposed housing lots to 50. The HAJ initially proposed the development of a 54-lot residential subdivision — located amidst Long Mountain/Karachi Road and the communities of Long Mountain Country Club, Beverly Hills and Pines of Karachi — on 29.2 acres of land. Another 193.2 acres was to be left "for conservation and public open space".

For its part, the HAJ has refused comment on the recent developments concerning their application to NEPA.

"We are unaware at this time of any approval of the project by the NRCA. We are, therefore, unable to comment on it," Public Relations Manager Richard Jones said this past week.

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