Villa resident upset over excavation work
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April 5, 2011
Villa resident upset over excavation work

Villa resident Vaughn Toney is expressing concern about the heavy-duty machinery works that have been taking place near to his home for the past two weeks, which he said is defacing the natural landscape.{{more}}

Toney, who has been living in North America for over 40 years and runs a non-profit organisation there, said he returned home on a vacation and saw a tractor removing pieces of the land and stones close to where the Taiwanese ambassador’s residence is located, just above the Shell Gas Station.

“I thought in a residential community that stone mining taking place is wrong,” Toney told SEARCHLIGHT on Friday, April 1.

The irate resident said he had carried out his own investigations into the matter and had called the Town Planner at the Physical Planning Division Anthony Bowman via telephone, the day before.

Before calling Bowman, Toney said he had spoken to three of the staff at the Planning Division when he visited the office and was informed that no permission had been granted to carry work on the land, which is owned by the parents of Cameron “Dinky’ Balcombe, who is currently heading the project.

Toney said he, however, learnt that the order to cease work was not followed and work has since proceeded on the property.

“I was told by three of the staff that ‘stop work order’ was served,” Toney stated.

Toney said that he was also informed by a senior employee at Planning that they were told by someone attached to the project that a few stones would be removed to make the area safer.

“I have never seen any landslides, no stones being washed away or anything like that, so I don’t know what is the purpose of all of this,” Toney added.

Toney further stated that he was told by the senior employee that permission had indeed been given to Balcombe to do work approximately 20 feet away from the road, to make the property safe.

“What I see here is tantamount to a stone quarry. I am really concerned about this sort of activity going on and it has to be illegal in a residential community,” Toney stated.

He also noted that the senior employee at Planning denied that it was a stone quarry and that any ‘stop work order’ had been issued.

Meanwhile, Balcombe, a former New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate, remains adamant that he was given permission by his parents to carry out work on the land, as well as by the Planning Division.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that he is not operating a stone quarry and is only using an excavator to “clear trees and scrape the loose material (stone) in order to make a much better environment for the Taiwanese ambassador.”

When asked if he was approached by the ambassador to clear the lands of the over-hanging trees and loose material, Balcombe replied, “No! I know the Taiwanese government has done a lot for the Vincentian public and I am just doing it out of the goodness out of my heart.”

Only two houses are located on the road which leads to the ambassador’s residence followed by Toney’s.

During the interview with Balcombe, he revealed that an apartment complex would be erected on the land later this year.

Balcombe said he has spoken to the Planning Division who visited the property last week as a result of the excavator being on the land. He said during that visit an “enforcement order” was issued to him.

“When they came and saw that we were just scraping off the loose material, they said it was okay and that we could go ahead,” Balcombe pointed out.

“It’s nothing illegal or nothing like that. You don’t have to

apply to Planning if you are just scraping the land,” Balcombe said.

He also noted that he had been granted permission to clear from 15 feet from the road and scrape the land gently with the machine. He added that he had paid a $50 fee and filled out an application to get an approval of a mining license.

“We are not really mining stone, we are just clearing the land of the trees….When we get the license, the stones would have to be taken out, anyway,” Balcombe stated.

He also said that he does not see what the fuss is about because Planning had already confirmed that mining is not taking place.

Yesterday, several attempts to reach Town Planner Anthony Bowman on the matter proved futile.