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UBP candidate says breach of planning rules was an oversight

UBP election candidate Jeff Sousa showed “blatant disregard” for the planning process by starting building work on his property without permission, according to the Development Applications Board.

The board considered an application by Mr Sousa for retroactive approval for a “terrace above laundry room and garden steps” at 9 Burnt Hill Lane, Warwick.

Approval was given on condition of a retroactive building permit being granted.

But the minutes of the board's meeting of May 28, 2010, state: “The board wishes to express concern that the applicant has shown blatant disregard for the planning process, in that development has commenced prior to planning approval.”

Mr Sousa, 51, told

The Royal Gazette it was “just an oversight”. He said: “I was surprised at that myself. I didn't know, as God is my saviour, that any of that was taking place. I didn't know that wasn't already in Planning.”

His architect Michael Emery, of Entasis Architecture, said: “There was nothing done by him to deceive Planning or anybody else. He didn't even realise what he'd done. It's just some people are not up on planning regulations, that's all.”

Mr Sousa recently built a new house on the land at 9 Burnt Hill Lane, where his family has lived for more than a century.

The property is in Warwick West, where the former United Bermuda Party chairman hopes to win a parliamentary seat at the next general election.

Mr Sousa said he previously lived for 20 years in a 900 sq ft cottage on the same site, a home he described as a “shoebox”.

His new larger dwelling has angered one complainant, who has written to the director of the Department of Planning asking for a review into an alleged violation of planning and tax laws.

The letter, copied to

The Royal Gazette, claims Mr Sousa has been living in the house since last year, despite not having a Certificate of Occupancy from Planning and no assessment by the Land Tax Office.

The complainant, who also sent the letter to the Finance Minister, Environment Minister and Tax Commissioner, claims: “The house has been occupied since 2010, with no land tax paid.”

The letter continues: “As a law-abiding, tax-paying born-Bermudian, I object to this total disregard of the law.

“I have contacted planning officials about this but I keep getting pointed in different directions for a resolution. No one seems willing to do anything.”

Landscape company owner Mr Sousa described the anonymous complaint as “sickening”, adding: “Some people need to get a life. Jealousy comes into play with so many people. It's just shameful.”

He said: “My grandmother was born on that property in 1898. My grandfather had a horse livery on that property in the 1920s. The Sousas have lived on that hill longer than any other residents. I hope I die on that hill.

“If anybody knows me and the hard work I do in the community seven days a week, it's actually hurtful that people are so spiteful to do things like that.”

He said the property had always been broken into two units, a plant nursery and a home, and he paid land tax on both.

“I know that I have, some time ago, received some contact from Planning that they would make an assessment. I don't deal with that myself personally. I'm sure the land tax has been paid. We would just be waiting for some adjustment.”

The Land Valuation Department's website lists only one assessment number for 9 Burnt Hill Lane, which it describes as a plant nursery with an annual rental value of $15,600.

A Government spokeswoman said the Department of Planning and the Land Valuation Department were both investigating.

Useful websites: www.planning.gov.bm, www.landvaluation.bm, www.ubp.bm, www.slm.bm.

Jeff Sousa

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Published March 24, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 24, 2011 at 9:59 am)

UBP candidate says breach of planning rules was an oversight

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