Clean-up spotlights problem

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, a Member of the Legislative Assembly, and a road construction company teamed up last month to clean up land around a neglected house near Bodden Town Public Beach.

Police Constable Clifford Garcia said the property had become choked with overgrown bushes, and piled up debris over the years. He said drug use was becoming a problem in the area.

‘Before the clean up, you could see a portion of the houseā€¦but not that much,’ said Officer Garcia. ‘So basically it was difficult for the officers to make checks there.’

Even though the empty house is still standing, Officer Garcia said the property clean up will help discourage illegal activity.

‘Once it is open it is very difficult for that to take place,’ he said. ‘You are able to see the house, see anyone around it, and the officers are able to check around it.’

Police said the home, which sustained major damage during hurricane Ivan in 2004, has been vacant for several years and attempts to locate the owner have not been successful.

There is no provision in Cayman Islands law that allows government to seize the land or the home, other than the Land Acquisition Law, which allows the taking of private property for public projects such as road construction.

The government does have the power to order homeowners to clean up derelict property, but MLA Osbourne Bodden has recently pointed out those laws don’t have a lot of teeth (Caymanian Compass, 8 March, 2007)

There is a process under the Planning Law, which involves issuance of abatement notices that can eventually bring a property owner to court. Maximum fines upon conviction are $200 initially and $10 per day if the land isn’t cleaned up.

Mr. Bodden made a private member’s motion during the last meeting of the LA, which called on the government to require that land owners keep their property in good repair.

Some ideas for the legislation could include higher fines for violators. He also said a warning period could be given to allow homeowners enough time to clean up their land.

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