Auto shop owner ignored enforcement notice for 5 years

Fined $1,000 for illegal operation

The owner of an auto repair business who failed to comply with an enforcement notice from the Planning Department was fined $1,000 in Summary Court on Wednesday.

Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez imposed the fine after telling defendant Sonia Angella Miller that Cayman’s Development and Planning Law sets out what people can do on their private property. If developers were allowed to do what they want, there would be no law and order, she pointed out: “Imagine what this place would look like,” she said.

Miller acknowledged that she had a vehicle repair business in a residential area of North Side.

Senior Crown counsel Tricia Hutchinson said that, on Jan. 10, 2011, officers of the Planning Department Compliance Section carried out a site visit at Miller’s property after they received information about the illegal operation of auto repairs and storage of derelict vehicles.

The defendant was advised that planning permission had to be applied for or the vehicles had to be removed from the site.

A registered letter was sent to Miller a few days later with this same information.

In September 2012, officers performed a re-inspection and took photos showing active auto repairing and storage. Photos were again taken of the site in July 2013 and a notice was sent to Miller that she should desist or apply for permission. Another enforcement was notice was sent in November 2013.

As of Aug. 5, 2014 no application for permission had been submitted. A charge was registered against Miller in October 2014 and the matter first came to court in February 2015.

The charge to which Miller pleaded guilty was failing to cease operation of auto repairs and storage of derelict vehicles or applying for planning permission, contrary to the Development and Planning Law, in contravention of an enforcement notice dated Nov. 20, 2013.

Miller told the court that she did try to have derelict vehicles removed, but the Department of Environmental Health took a long time to come. As to complaints about vehicle parts on the property, she said she had tried to rent a container in which to store them, but the rental fees were expensive.

Referring to the first site visit in 2011, the magistrate pointed out that Miller’s inaction was “five years of non-compliance.”

Miller told the court she had a business license for another site and she thought it could apply to where she lived.

The magistrate told her she could not extend a license on her own. Further, she could not profit from not obeying the law.

The alternative to the $1,000 fine was 10 weeks imprisonment. Miller asked for time to pay and was given three months.

“You are also ordered to remove any remaining garbage and derelict vehicles. Make the property acceptable to the Planning Department within two weeks,” the magistrate told Miller.

She endorsed the court file with the note that investigations are to continue to ensure that all laws are being observed.

Photos taken of the property on Wednesday morning showed there were six vehicles in the yard, but Miller said they were all used by her and family members. She was ordered to produce proof of ownership and insurance for them.

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