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Preservation Authority did not block kitchen exhaust

On hold: The St George’s restaurant owned by entrepreneur Marico Thomas where delays have led to an uncertain future (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The authority responsible for vetting work on historic buildings in St George’s has revealed that it never raised opposition to a new restaurant now stalled over long-running delays.

It came as Marico Thomas, the developer of the Pub on the Square, said he was still fuming over the yearlong wait to complete the eatery – and “torn” over whether to carry on now that financial backers had been discouraged.

Mr Thomas, who bought the building “to create Bermudian jobs”, told The Royal Gazette: “I hate to be morbid, but my parents both died at age 67.

“I have 11 years left before I reach that age – and government just wasted one of them.”

Mr Thomasquit work on the restaurant last week, citing a roadblock by the Department of Planning over an exhaust fan installed on the heritage building.

It then emerged that Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, had approved the application back in January – but that staff had failed to notify Mr Thomas.

George Dowling III, the Mayor of St George, explained the St George’s Preservation Authority told Mr Thomas to “camouflage” an exhaust vent – but did not block the project.

Instead, the complaint to the Department of Planning over the ventilator jutting from the pub’s roof likely came from a member of the community.

Mr Dowling, the chairman of the seven-member team, also said the authority, which answers directly to the Governor, technically had the power to veto the minister’s decision if needed.

“Believe it or not, although the minister can approve it from a planning perspective, the Act is more substantive than that,” he said.

“If we said ‘no’ as the authority, then we would overrule the minister according to the Act. The authority is set up by the Governor.”

But Mr Dowling said the St George’s Preservation Authority took little issue with the kitchen vent mounted on the building.

“Our stance was that it needed to be painted, in the first instance, to blend in with its surroundings, and that was done.

“Then, as a secondary measure, we said that it was to be further camouflaged in the near future. It could be something like a trellis or something of that nature.”

Mr Dowling, who has publicly supported the restaurant, said he remained optimistic it would become a reality.

“I just want it to be resolved as quickly as possible with the best interests of everybody in mind,” he added.

“I want the Town of St George happy, the Government happy, Mr Thomas happy and Bermuda as a whole happy.”

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Published February 16, 2023 at 7:40 am (Updated February 16, 2023 at 7:40 am)

Preservation Authority did not block kitchen exhaust

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