Marico Thomas On St. George Development

April 13, 2022 | 0 Comments

“The Minister’s press statement does not tell the full story” about the development of the old George & Dragon/Pub On The Square in the Towne of St. Georges, according to Marico Thomas.

Mr. Thomas said, “The press statement and news interview by Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban are incomplete and fail to provide clarity to the core situation regarding the development of the old George & Dragon/Pub On The Square in the Towne of St. Georges.

Planning Process

“Our path for approval has included two steps; step one: Planning Application, followed by step two: Building Application. The final step in the approval process is the Building Application. Actual work cannot commence until stamped Building Approval is given. The Building documents once stamped and received, are the permission to commence work.

“We received stamped building control documents which show all details related to the exhaust fan and are stamped as approved.

“This matter is simple. Building permission was granted and accepted. Work commenced. As an applicant may not provide themselves with any approval, Minister Roban should look inward to his Ministry for answers and solutions as to why approval was given.

No Stop Work Order Was Issued

“Minister Roban states ‘At no time did the Department halt the project or issue a Stop Order on the development contrary to Mr. Thomas’ allegations.’ This information is incomplete and misleading.

“A person known to work at the Planning Department attended the site and in view of 5 other persons uttered the following: ‘good afternoon. I am from Planning. It’s not your fault, but I am here to shut you down.’

“Not only was this communicated once, but the after being challenged, the official went away and returned a second time within the hour, and with the same message that we were to shut down.

“Mr Thomas informed the Planning Officer of the already amicable conversations with the Mayor and St. George Preservation Authority Chairman and that he would speak with the Director of Planning in the morning to avoid legal action.

“The Planning Officer determined this to be an appropriate course of action and the Officer took his leave. The fact that ‘no stop order was issued’ does not remove the fact that a Planning Officer attended and stated he was there to shut us down, and did so twice.

“Furthermore, by extrapolation, it would seem that Mr Roban is urging all home and property owners to ignore the communications of any Planning Department personnel until presented with written and legal documentation.

“Minister Roban speaks of the streamlined processes implemented by the Government regarding planning applications. I wish to congratulate the Minister Roban on this achievement and encourage further modernization. Commentary from the many, many calls, emails, and street-side conversations regarding this matter suggest additional opportunities exist.

“The Minister may benefit from inviting public comment to himself directly so that he can be aware of the pain, aggravation and suffering that is being spoken.

“The stress, anxiety and costs related to development are significant. I have received many calls and emails indicating opportunity for the Ministry to improve the disconnects within its remit which frustrate project advancement and result in considerable financial drain.

“With regard to our situation, it would be incredibly useful for the Minister to look inward and explain how rouge activity would take place within his Ministry.

Government Commitment

“Minister Roban stated ‘The Government is committed to supporting our small and medium sized businesses.’ As this was said in our context, one would assume he is also referring to me.

“It would be useful to receive clarity by what is meant by ‘the Government.’ The Premier clarifies that there is a difference between the Premier, the Cabinet Ministers and their Ministries, and the Civil Service personnel.

“I, and our investment team, do feel properly supported by the Civil Service. Communication is strong, easy and fluent. We do understand that at times in the execution of one’s duty, mistakes are made and will need to be addressed.

“I and our investment team do not feel properly supported by the Ministers and the Premier. A call for action was made at the Cabinet level. The investors and Mr Thomas responded for national good [90-125 jobs] almost a year and a half ago.

“Absent are actions, deeds and images demonstrating Cabinet support. Instead, with significant local and foreign investment spearheaded by a local businessman creating 90-125 jobs with majority Bermudian employment, The Premier and Cabinet are silent, or worse incomplete.

“The result is aggravation, unfocused activity, a waste of time and money, and a delay in achieving goals. This is curious. More so, this is discouraging and inappropriate.

Finding A Solution

“Minister Roban said ‘we will continue to work with Mr. Thomas to find a workable solution to this matter to ensure a beneficial outcome for all concerned.’

“I do question who is the ‘we’ Minister Roban is referring to. Our relationship with the Director of Planning is strong. Our communications on this matter have been friendly, frank, honest and solution-orientated. Our relationship with Minister Roban is non-existent. It purports to be friendly but curiously, communication fails to occur directly. It is hard to imagine how workable solutions may be afforded when shared understanding and communication are not present.

“There are many details and processes that the general public would not be aware of. The public deserves the right to be properly informed so that they may understand where true responsibility and accountability occur. While magic shows and stage performances are entertaining, matters of the government are complex, and the stress and financial implications of persons interacting with the government are real. Every public statement made by government officials and private individuals should been seen as education tools which allow the public to be better informed, rather than just entertained.

“The Minister’s press statement does not tell the full story. An uninformed reader could be left to construe that I/we should have done better, that I/we were insensitive to the aesthetics and history of the Towne of St George, and/or were intentionally mischievous in the submission on our application or the progress of our works. At the same time, any hint of misgiving or wrong doing under his remit is silent.

“The press release, despite all of the information provided, does not provide the clarity it suggests. It simply does not speak to responsibility and accountability regarding the issues that matter. The consequence of not telling the full story is harm and aggravation to myself, my investors, and the general public.

“It is the responsibility of our leaders to set the tone and pace for the country and the constituents they represent. Information provided should not just be clear, it should be accurate and complete.

“We must be the example of the change we want. This includes apologizing when being wrong or hurtful, embracing accountability for self and others and demanding effective useful performance again of ourselves and others.

“In an instance such as mine, any incomplete information presented by a person as prominent and import as Minister Roban, could mislead the public, damage one’s reputation and negatively affect their business. I rest well in the thought that Minister Roban is a man of character and I am sure that this could not be the intent in my regard.”

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