crabrightThe first time I visited Long Caye, nearly 10 years ago, one of my fondest memories was of the land crabs, scurrying to and fro along the trails, especially at night.  When I went back several years later I was dismayed and disgusted by the number of rats I saw scurrying along the trails at night, instead. Apparently, it’s still a problem. This report was just sent to us by Lindy Hodge, who has lived on Long Caye longer than anyone else, and has made it her home.

There is a growing problem here on Long Caye–one that you won’t read about in the newsletters being sent out by the Long Caye Community Association.  

Rats!

They’re everywhere! Especially around the recycling and dump site during the day.  At night they scurry along the trails and walkways. Needless to say, the people who live here and the people visiting the island are not happy about it. 

004 (1)In addition to garbage, the rats are feasting on young land crabs, birds, coconuts, flowers, and other plants. One plant that is particularly susceptible is the saw palmetto, which has a flower that gives off a lovely perfume. Unfortunately, the rats chew into, and eat, the flower bud before it has a chance to bloom. 

This wasn’t a problem when we first moved here.  In fact, the trails at night were covered with land crabs which are an important food source for egrets and other birds, and the spiny tail iguana.  But now the land crabs are being decimated by the rats and this will definitely have a negative impact on the natural food chain.  

Poison is not a good alternative as there’s no way to restrict what eats it. So, while the Long Caye Community Association is busy putting the finishing touches on their new resort, the rats have taken over paradise.  

I’d just like to know what they’re going to do about this.

Cheers,

Lindy

This is something the Long Caye Community Association should be taking care of.  Yet, I don’t recall seeing any mention of this, or what they plan to do, on the last “maintenance report.”

If anyone has any information on the Long Caye Community Association, how its funds are allocated,  and how the officers are selected, please let me know.  I have asked Blake Ross for this information twice now and have still not received it.  Surely, some of you who are paying the annual “maintenance fees” requested by this organization must have that information. If so, please send it along and we’ll share that information here.

Regarding the last post concerning “Cautions” that may have been placed on your property on Long Caye:

A few people wrote to say they were “cautioned against” purchasing property on Long Caye.  That is not the kind of “caution” we are referring to here.  This “caution” is similar to a lien being placed on your property “in favor of  Pleasure Island Limited.”

If you have received notice of such a caution being placed against your property, your first recourse should be to send your objection to:

Mr. Beroni Hernandez

Ministry of Natural Resources & Agriculture

Queen Elizabeth II Boulevard

City of Belmopan, BELIZE,  C.A.

This needs to be done in writing.  Be sure to include your parcel and block number, state your objection to the caution, and ask for a copy of any documentation provided by Pleasure Island Limited (PIL)to substantiate their claim.

Then, please let us know.  We are compiling a list of property owners who may have valid legal claims against PIL.

Please note that just because you have not received a letter from the Ministry of Natural Resources, this does not mean that Pleasure Island Limited has not put a caution on your property!  To find out, you should call Mr. Beroni’s office directly:  (501) 802-2307 ext. 156 or ext. 162.

If you have received a notice from the Ministry, please note that the phone numbers listed on the letterhead are incorrect.  The correct numbers are 501-802-2711 and 501-802-2630.

In regards to this action by PIL, most of you are aware that PIL has been collecting, or trying to collect money, from property owners for many years for “maintenance.”  However, very little evidence of any maintenance being done to benefit property owners (other than the owners and shareholders of PIL) has ever been submitted.  We have asked Blake Ross, specifically, for maintenance reports and have received nothing from him for several years.  Quarterly “newsletters” are no longer being sent to property owners, but are being sent to people who have expressed interest in purchasing property on Long Caye.

Other recent complaints against PIL include:

  • Failure to provide property owners access to their property via boardwalks and/or cleared pathways
  • Failure to provide documentation of “maintenance” expenses
  • Failure to provide clear title to property once it is paid for in full
  • Failure to respond to property owner’s inquiries

To see a more complete list of property owners’ complaints, please refer to this previous post: It’s Been a While……

To view a complete copy of the “Belize Registered Land Act, Chapter 194,  Revised Edition 2000″ please click on the link below.

Registered Land Act

In the meantime, you might want to refer to the following excerpt, dealing specifically with “cautions:”

Cautions
130.

(1) Any person who-

(a) claims any unregistrable interest whatever, in land or a lease or a charge; or

(b) is entitled to a licence; or

(c) has presented a bankruptcy petition against the proprietor of any registered land, lease or charge,

may lodge a caution with the Registrar forbidding the registration of dispositions of the land, lease or charge concerned and the making of entries affecting the same.

(2) A caution may either-

(a) forbid the registration of dispositions and the making of entries altogether; or

(b) forbid the registration of dispositions and the making of entries to the extent therein expressed.

(3) A caution shall be in the prescribed form and shall state the interest claimed by the cautioner and the Registrar may require the cautioner to support it by a statutory declaration.

(4) The Registrar may refuse to register a caution which he considers unnecessary.

(5) Subject to this section, a caution shall be registered in the appropriate register.

131.

(1) The Registrar shall give notice in writing of a caution to the proprietor whose land, lease or charge is affected by it.

(2) So long as a caution remains registered no disposition which is inconsistent with it shall be registered except with the consent of the
cautioner or by order of the court.

132.

(1) A caution may be withdrawn by the cautioner or removed by order of the court or, subject to subsection (2), by order of the Registrar.

(2)    (a) The Registrar may, on the application of any person interested, serve notice on the cautioner warning him that his caution will be removed at the expiration of the time stated in the notice.

(b) If at the expiration of the time stated the cautioner has not objected, the Registrar may remove the caution.

(c) If the cautioner objects to the removal of the caution, he shall notify the Registrar in writing of his objection within the time specified in the notice, and the Registrar, after giving the parties
an opportunity of being heard, shall make such order as he thinks fit, and may in the order make provision for the payment of costs.

(3) On registration of a transfer by a chargee in exercise of his powers of sale under section 78, the Registrar shall remove any caution which purports to prohibit any dealing by the chargor and which was
registered after the charge by virtue of which the transfer has been effected.

(4) On the withdrawal or removal of a caution, its registration shall be cancelled, but any liability of the caution previously incurred under section 134 shall not be affected by the cancellation.

133.

The Registrar may refuse to accept a further caution by the same person or anyone on his behalf in relation to the same matter as a previous registered caution.

134.

Any person who lodges or maintains a caution wrongfully and without reasonable cause shall be liable, in an action for damages at the suit of any person who has thereby sustained damage, to pay compensation to
such person.

Additionally, the complete Registered Land Act may contain information pertinent to any disputes , which might include:

  • determining who has clear title to your land before purchasing
  • failure to provide title to your land after you have paid for it
  • failure to provide access to your land via pathways and boardwalks as stipulated in your purchase agreement
  • failure to provide the maintenance you have paid for
  • and more.

For further information please contact:

Ministry of Natural Resources

Queen Elizabeth II Boulevard

City of Belmopan

BELIZE,  C.A.

phone 501-802-2711 or 501-802-2630

It has come to our attention that the following correspondance has just been sent to Mr. Martin Alegria, other key members of the Belizean government, and the local media.  While many of you are already aware of issues concerning PIL’s empty promises and their failure to complete contractual items associated with your purchase (i.e. walkways to your property), this new correspondance alleges illegal use of pesticides and mistreatment of the Belizean workers hired to “maintain” Long Caye.  Photos that accompanied this letter can be seen here.
 
September 11, 2011
  
Dear Mr. Alegria,
 
This letter alleges certain illegal activities of Pleasure Island Limited (PIL) and its directors, specifically as they relate to the use of illegal pesticides, mistreatment of Belizean workers and operating an illegal hotel and inability to provide clear title to land on Long Caye.  This allegation is directed toward directors of PIL, past and present, to include Lawrence Schneider; Jackson Edwards, III; Blake Ross; and James Cullinan.
 
As you know, PIL has an agreement with the D.O.E. to develop the Island of Long Caye at Lighthouse Reef under certain governing conditions. However, PIL has never followed through with the agreement they made with the D.O.E. , the people of Belize, and the owners who invested in property on Long Caye.  The directors of PIL continue to break the very rules they have appointed themselves to police and continue to demonstrate direct disregard for the terms and conditions of the Environmental Compliance Plan, specifically the use and misuse of illegal pesticides, mistreatment of Belizean workers, and operating an illegal hotel and inability to provide clear title to land sold on Long Caye.
 
We strongly urge the D.O.E.  to revoke the “Developer’s” rights under the D.O.E. agreement and to hold PIL and its directors accountable for the many infractions they have committed and offer the following as points to investigate.
 
PIL USE OF INSECTICIDES ON LONG CAYE AT LIGHTHOUSE REEF
 
PIL uses a number of insecticides which are damaging to aquatic environments and used “off label” not in compliance with their intended use, according to the chemical companies which produce them.  Two of these products, Cypermethrin and Kendo AG, are approved only for agricultural use on Papaya crops in Belize.  Both products are clearly labeled, “very toxic to the aquatic environment.” 
 
Cypermethrin is highly toxic to bees.  As you know, Long Caye depends on the vitality of its mangroves and mangroves depend on bees for pollination.  Consequently, not only is the use of Cypermethrine not approved for this use, it is wholly incompatible with a “Mangrove Preserve,” which Long Caye claims to be.  For more information:
 
 
Kendo AG, according to the Kendo Laboratory technician we spoke with, should never be used in an aquatic environment.   “Spraying for mosquitoes is clearly off label use for our product… We would like to know who is using our product off label…  It is not a safe use of our product…this product should never be used in an aquatic environment.”
 
TREATMENT AND SAFETY OF BELIZEAN WORKERS
 
Directors of PIL instruct their Long Caye employees to work with dangerous chemicals.  These workers are not provided gloves, protective clothing, goggles, rubber boots, or respirators, as the manufacturer requires.  PIL does not warn workers or residents prior to spraying or tell them what they are spraying.  It is also reported that PIL Directors leave the island during times of spraying. 
 
Yellow arrows left behind by the departing directors direct the Belizean employees where to spray. They are instructed to use the All-Terrain Vehicle belonging to director Jim Cullinan and emit a heavy poisonous fog of Kendo AG from the back of the vehicle even though the Data Sheet and label warn:
 
DANGER!
Combustible liquid and vapor
COMBUSTIBLE
 
According to OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) 29CFR 1910, this product is extremely hazardous.  Firefighting measures require self-contained breathing apparatus, and full protective clothing must be worn in case of fire. 
 
It is no wonder that PIL’s directors leave the island when spraying is done. Unfortunately, the Belizean workers are not afforded that luxury.
 
In May of 2010, one of the Belizean workers, Sam Reyes, fell suddenly ill. None of the PIL directors were on the island at this time and there was no way left for him to leave the island or obtain medical attention.  Even though Sam fell ill on a Monday evening and was experiencing severe stomach pain, he was not taken from the island until early Friday by someone sent out by a PIL to bring Sam back to Belize City.  Sam died in that small boat on his way to receive medical attention, four days after the first symptoms appeared. 
 
This raises so many questions, not the least of which is why Sam wasn’t evacuated by helicopter.  Helicopter evacuation is one of the emergency procedures touted by PIL. And helicopter transport to and from Long Caye  has, in fact, been used by Jackson Edwards, III, on several occasions to show –off the island to potential investors. Why wasn’t it used to save a man’s life?
 
Why did it take four days for help to reach Long Caye? Could Sam have been saved if help had been sent sooner?  What was the cause of his death?  Was it the illegal use of pesticides, applied at the direction of his employer, PIL? How many other workers have been unwittingly poisoned, if not by actually applying the pesticides, but by food, storage vessels, and eating utensils also contaminated by them?
 
 
PIL boast having a large employee dormitory which is reported in sad disrepair while director lodging on Long Caye is in perfect condition.
 
In 2003, during the hurricane, there were no directors, boats or pilots available on Long Caye to take employees back to the mainland.  For days preceding the storm there was only rice available for employees to eat.  When a privately chartered boat returned to the island in incredibly high seas we offered the PIL employees a choice to stay or board the boat.  They seized the opportunity to get to the safety of the mainland.  Later in Belize City Jackson Edwards, III (and not Jackson L. Edwards, Jr., his father who died in 1993 and was the PIL Director) and Lawrence Schneider claimed they were beginning construction on the promised Long Caye Hurricane Shelter.  Eight years later and it does not exist.  It is another example of false and empty claims and promises used to deflect the truth, a common practice of PIL directors.
 
BTB REGISTRATION:  Barge deliveries of lumber and supplies arrived on Long Caye (some lumber clearly marked with the name, John Usher) for the construction and remodeling of a large resort on Long Caye, previously owned by Lawrence Schneider who signed the original 2001 D.O.E. agreement.  The construction has been under the direction of newest PIL Director, Jim Cullinan and his private investment group who reportedly purchased the resort from Schneider in early 2011.   It is certainly alleged that Lawrence Schneider, Jackson Edwards, III, Blake Ross, James Cullinan, etc., have received paying guests at this resort throughout the years.  Many of us will tell you that we have been some of the paying guests.  Recently, this same resort was found on FACEBOOK as, Itsa Resort. 
 
CONSTRUCTION:  Construction on the resort has been ongoing since the purchase from Lawrence Schneider and again, the very rules they have been appointed to enforce have not been followed by the directors as the huge stacks of debris are thrown on the beach and eventually burned in a drunken bon fire party on and in front of privately owned lots on Long Caye.  Yes, drugs are reportedly part of the evening drum circles on the North Beach.  PIL Directors have a proven record of doing what they want on Long Caye, which they use as their very private party island.
 
TRASH:  It is reported that the rules under the D.O.E. agreement governing trash on Long Caye is another area where PIL break their own ECOguidelines and D.O.E. agreement which they claim to enforce.  Discarded food feeds the rats which overpopulate the island.   Again, they have discarded trash on property other than their own.  They burn food and recyclables together and have caught fire to neighboring coconut trees.  There have been several fires on Long Caye at Lighthouse Reef over the years.
 
CLEAR TITLE:  Disputed ownership of land on Long Caye needs to be fully investigated.   PIL have promised to return some buyers funds or trade other properties on the island while they continue to buy and sell property which others claim to own.  
 
TWO BELIZEAN HEIRS-AT-LAW claim that in 1961 their father, Donald Jakeway became the original subscriber of a British Honduras company and the Proprietor of Long Caye at Lighthouse Reef.  On April 2, 1968 Don Jakeway became the original subscriber of Pleasure Island Limited, and still the Proprietor of Long Caye.  The heirs of Don Jakeway are clear that Lawrence Schneider and Jackson Edwards, III stole their inheritance after their father’s death via the land and company shares filings.   Don Jakeway’s only heirs-at-law are his Belizean children, Melanie Waite Jakeway and Daniel Jakeway.  Proof obtained by a 2002 legal search reveal company and land records.  Don Jakeway clearly owned over half of the island and shares in PIL!
 
We allege that PIL and its directors are clearly making a mockery of the laws of Belize and the agreement they have with the Department of the Environment and the people of Belize and the purchasers of land on Long Caye.  While they pay a great deal of lip-service to their concern for the long-term protection of Long Caye, their actions reveal their hypocrisy.  And, they have shown complete and utter disregard for the safety and well-being of their Belizean employees and other residents on the island. Based on this and other allegations of misdoing worthy of further investigation, we strongly urge the D.O.E to revoke the “Developer’s” rights under the D.O.E. agreement and to hold PIL and its directors accountable for the many infractions they have committed.

This from the website of Amble Resorts:

Long Caye Resort

Amble Resorts recently acquired the 80-acre southern tip of the island known as Long Caye, at Lighthouse Reef Atoll in Belize. Master planning and initial design concepts are currently being developed for a resort and vacation home community of approximately 100 homes and 30 hotel rooms.

Long Caye has an extremely desirable location within the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Less than 10 miles from the renowned Great Blue Hole, a pilgrimage for scuba divers, our site is also less than five miles from dozens of the Caribbean’s best dive locations and uniquely located to provide our customers with the most privileged access to Belize’s best diving. Our ownership of the island includes the entire southern peninsula, with over 2 miles of sandy coastline to the east, south and west, and a nature preserve along the northern border.

In addition to building a 20-room hotel and associated amenities, Amble’s plans for the initial stage of development at Long Caye include establishment of the first float plane business in Belize and a financially practical implementation of cutting-edge sustainable infrastructure and renewable energy.

For more information on Amble Resorts you can visit their webpage: http://www.amble.com/projects

This must be the company we heard about when we  visited with the directors of PIL in February of 2010.  At that time we were told that Dave Ferran was courting some developers who were interested in purchasing the southern tip of the island to create a very high-end resort.  We were also told by Jim Cullinan (the newest PIL director) that these developers would not purchase property on Long Caye unless they were NOT bound by the eco-guidelines.  I’m not sure, but I would guess that that is why there are so many provisions in the new eco-guidelines giving PIL the option of excluding any property they want to from its provisions….leaving the rest of us holding the bag, as it were.  I would also venture to say that the entire new “Master Plan” was developed with these developers in mind, totally discounting any previous promises and representations made to those of us who purchased prior to all these radical changes, thus supporting the contention of many property owners that the “vision” for the island seems to change with every new major investor PIL tries to bring on board.

In the meantime, the lodge at the northern end of the island, Itza Lodge, is being readied for its second grand opening. However, for some reason Jim Cullinan (the new owner of Itza Lodge and Pil director) is refusing to answer a seemingly simple question: specifically, Who now owns the Welcome Center?  As you may recall we were told by Jackson Edwards and Blake Ross back in 2007, that the Welcome Center belonged to the property owners of Long Caye…and indeed, property owner’s maintenance fees have been used to maintain it.  The latest rumor, however, is that it now belongs to Jim Cullinan.  For some reason, Jim refuses to confirm or deny this, which seems odd, unless there might be some question about the  ethics of the sale or transfer of the welcome center from the property owners association to Jim…..if there was one.  Remember, Jim Cullinan is one of the directors of PIL.  PIL runs the property owners association. So, yes, if Jim now owns the Welcome Center, I do have a problem with one of the directors of the organization approving the sale of one of the assets of the organization to himself.

All we want is a little clarification on who owns it now.  Why all the secrecy and subterfuge?

I do apologise for how long it has taken me to publish PIL’s responses to the questions raised.  They did do so in a timely manner. However, it has taken some time and digging to clarify some issues and while that job is not yet done, I did want to keep you up to speed as much as possible.

For ease of reference, I have posted copies of the eco-guidelines from 2000, 2002, and 2010, so property owners can see how this document has evolved over the years. Additionally, you can review the Environmental Compliance Plan from 2001, (an agreement between Pleasure Island Limited and the Government of Belize) which contains the only provisions (specifically protecting the environment) which the Department of the Environment is concerned about.

In the meantime, I have also been asked to collect information from other property owners who have sold, or attempted to sell their property on Long Caye. Specifically, did you find that the eco-guidelines or Pleasure Island Limited in any way hindered the sale of your property or affected its value? Please note, I have added a Contact Us page to make it easier for you to send in your response, which will be confidential. If you want to comment specifically, and publicly, on any of the posts, please use the “Comment” option below. Anyone is welcome to comment on any of the opinions posted here and correct any errors of fact. I reserve the right to restrict approving comments if they are unfounded, unnecessarily inflammatory, or come from a source not directly associated with Long Caye as either a parcel holder or developer.

Here follows PIL’s responses as they relate directly to some of the questions raised concerning certain  provisions in the revised eco-guidelines.  As you will see, many of their responses lead to additional questions and requests for clarification, so please bear with me. PIL’s response is in red.

In regards to Article 13.12, giving PIL the Right of First Refusal:

“The Right of Refusal is something that the Association may really want. I agree that we should carve out an acceptable “family/friends” exemption. . . . .So far the provision has never been used. (the “worst case example” might be something like this: a fugitive or some known criminal or some such person wants to buy sometime in the future on the Caye, the GOB won’t stop the sale, so the Association may choose to simply match the price that was acceptable to the seller to protect the community wide standard.)”

For clarification, please note that according to the revised eco-guidelines it is the “declarant” and NOT the “Association” which has the right to over-ride any purchase agreement a parcel holder might have with another purchaser.  The “declarant” is defined as “Pleasure Island Limited, a Belize corporation, or any successor, successor-in-title, or assign who takes title to any portion of the Properties described on Exhibits “A” and/or “B” for the purpose of development and/or sale and who is designated as the Declarant in a recorded instrument executed by the immediately preceding Declarant; provided however, there shall be only one (1) “Declarant” hereunder at any time.” (Article 1.1.6)

The issue of how Article 13.12 serves to protect the environment of Long Caye and its surrounding waters was not addressed. Nor was it explained how this provision does not deny parcel holders of basic constitutional rights.

I would also be interested to hear comments from other parcel owners as to whether the Right of First Refusal is something they think the  “homeowners association” wants or needs.

In regards to Article 13.28, forbidding anyone to use the name “Long Caye” without written consent from PIL:

“Words “Long Caye” – this was something could also be modified to make it acceptable. I realize it’s strong protection of the future value of our brand. Maybe there can be a “not unreasonably withheld” or something. We have not considered alternative on this deeply, but we open to suggestion.”

It is not clear why a “strong protection of the future value” of PIL’s brand has been incorporated into the Eco-guidelines. I maintain that it has no place in a “contract” that was initially intended to impose environmental safeguards on the development of Long Caye.  Again, the issue of how this provision serves to protect the environment of Long Caye and its surrounding waters was not addressed.

In regards to Article 8.1 which gives PIL the authority to create assessments at any time and from time to time on behalf of the Long Caye Community Association:

“The only Assessment that has ever been charged is the General Assessment, and it has not been raised in the history of the development, even after years of consistent deficits. No Special Assessment or Capital Improvement Assessment has been charged, even after the hurricane that passed over Long Caye in 2010.”

In fact, PIL could not charge anything but “General Assessments” because previous versions of the eco-guidelines (which can be accessed here) only allowed for General Assessments. However, the revised eco-guidelines have added, in addition to a substantial “enhancement” of the general assessments (Article 8.2):

“Neighborhood Assessments,” referred to in the Table of Contents as Article 8.3 but not actually described in the eco-guidelines, anywhere, so we might assume they are coming.

“Special Assessments,” which include the opportunity to target individual parcel holders (Article 8.4).

“Benefitted Assessments,” which target parcel holders receiving special benefits, items, or services which are not necessarily at the parcel holders’ request (Article 8.5).

“Capital Improvements Assessments,” for the purpose of defraying the cost of any construction, reconstruction, repair or replacement of an Improvement (Article 8.6).

FYI. “Improvements,” according to Article 1.21, include “buildings, out-buildings, walkways, lighting fixtures, light bulbs, roads, golf cart parking areas, screening, stairs, decks, pools, landscaping, windbreaks, planting, planted trees and shrubs, poles, signs, and exterior air-conditioning and water softener fixtures or equipment, if any, bridges, and guard bases.”

According to the revised Eco-guidelines, ALL assessments can be levied and collected by the “Board” (which is still, for all intents and purposes, PIL.) And it seems to me that the revised eco-guidelines have given PIL the authority to levy “Capital Improvement Assessments” to defray the cost of constructing walkways. When asked about this, specifically, PIL responded:

The cost of installation of infrastructure is not a Association expense, it is the Developer’s expense. We remain in full effort to raise the funding to complete the infrastructure for parcel owners.

I suggest that you, as a parcel holder, take another look at your parcel purchase agreement and you will see that completion of the walkways by PIL was a condition of that agreement. Given that, I would ask PIL to please confirm that the “infrastructure” includes the timely completion of all walkways and boardwalks as promised to parcel holders in 2007 (Click here for the map) and that they establish a new schedule for completion with firm dates and self-imposed penalties for not meeting that obligation. I would also ask that PIL confirm that parcel holders will not be subjected to paying for the completion of the walkways and boardwalks through any form of assessment.

Also, I am asking PIL to please explain why the completion of boardwalks that was set to commence June 15, 2007, upon “an infusion of capital” was never initiated. In fact, I have received documentation, available to the public, from the Belize Companies and Corporate Affairs Registry to confirm that in August of 2007, Pleasure Island Limited sold 30,000 shares to Swordfish International Corp. and 30,000 shares to ACE Star International Corp., both Bahamian IBC’s. Assuming they received a $60,000 “infusion of capital” at that time, I would like to know why that money wasn’t used to complete the promised infrastructure?  Is it now a fact that those boardwalks are never going to be completed?

According to PIL:

We remind you that approximately 70% of sold parcels have access and over 60% of all the available parcels have access. Parcels were not sold with the requirement to build within a certain timeframe (which is often done in more traditional developments) so purchasers could make a longer term decision on a lower cost parcel. Note that less than 5% of the parcels have been built on by owners. In addition, we have consistently offered relocation to parcel owners who wish to build before access reaches their parcel.

I would like to hear from any parcel holder who was told prior to purchasing their plot that they were purchasing a lower cost parcel and consequently might have to wait indefinitely for access to it. I would also like to hear from any parcel holders who have taken the “relocation” option and to hear how that worked out for them.  

 I ask PIL, again, to please address the benefit these provisions and new assessments offer the people who have already purchased property on Long Caye and how this provision serves to protect the environment. I ask you to look again at the 4 added assessment opportunities and imagine what that could look like in the future. 

The ability to create and collect assessments in a way it sees fit is a power that we are confident the Community Association will surely want to retain after the Declarant/Development period is over.”

 That may be.  So why not wait until the “Declarant” period is over?

This brings up another point. What exactly is the Declarant/Development period? Article 1.18 states that the development period is the period of time in which the declarant (PIL) owns any property or subjects additional property to this declaration pursuant to Section 6.1: Annexation by Declarant.

Section 6.1 gives PIL the authority to annex all or any portion of any additional land or island, whether located on Long Caye, Belize, or otherwise, and may subject the annexed property to the Eco-Guidelines for twenty years! It also says PIL may transfer this right to another developer. It further states that PIL can do this without the consent of “Members.” (Classification of “members” appears in Section III.)

Given this it would appear that the “development/declarant period could be indefinite as long as PIL owns ANY property and the responsibility to create and collect assessments may never be turned over to the “Community Association.”

As you can see, it’s all very convoluted and there’s a lot more to cover.  For the time being I stand by my position that the revisions to the eco-guidelines are unacceptable and possibly unconstitutional and that many of the provisions were included to protect the interests of PIL and not the parcel holders or the environment, which, remember, was the original intent. A number of parcel holders are already seeking legal recourse concerning individual issues, of which the revised eco-guidelines may or may not play a role.  And whether or not the eco-guidelines are even enforceable has yet to be seen.  In the meantime, the revised eco-guidelines are a presumed indenture on your property and may very well be impacting its value. 

A personal aside, in reference to the “improvements” listed above:  Guard bases?  This is not what I bought into when I purchased my parcel in 2003. The way the future of Long Caye was described back then was a community of small, self-sufficient homes connected by way of raised walkways, NOT a community with golf cart parking areas, exterior air-conditioning, and guard bases. Not only that,  it now appears that all of us are expected to pay for that lifestyle, and more, through “Capital Improvement Assessments.” And if you can’t afford it, PIL will one way or another get your property back, either by foreclosure or through the presumed right of first refusal.

One parcel holder has asked me to think about this:  The one thing standing in the way of PIL selling out to a major developer (or two) who wants to turn Long Caye in to a “luxury resort” with expensive homesites, are all those little lots that they sold out in the hinterlands, 30% of which have no access.  If they can repossess your property or force you to sell cheap out of frustration, they can repackage Long Caye and profit……..at your expense.  This may not be far off the mark as I have spoken with a couple of potential developers/investors who have told me that the biggest detriment to the island was all those little parcels that were sold all over the place. Some of you purchased your property as an investment. The shareholders and directors of PIL also made an investment. And woe be to them if they are trying to protect their investment at the expense of yours. 

And finally, it is my understanding that this blog comes to you with all kinds of advertising attached to it.  As the administrator, I never see those. I’m sorry. Please know that this is not a source of revenue for me or for this blog.  In fact, there is no source of revenue.  I am not paid by anyone or anything for the time or expense it takes to put this information together.  Unless attributed to someone else, the opinions expressed here are just that.  My opinions.  Other than that, I do my very best to report factually on what is going on out there on Long Caye.  It is my hope that you will benefit from the information and the cross communication with other property owners.

We have received a comment from Nick Freed, who owns the “model home” on Long Caye. And while it’s always great to hear from someone who is happy with their experience on Long Caye, I think it is important to clarify a few mis-statements in this comment, based on documents I have recently received.

First of all, as far as I know, no one purchased “land” on Long Caye from Jackson’s father (who will be referred to as “Edwards in the rest of this article). However, back in the late 1960’s (and perhaps early 70’s), a number of people did buy shares in “Pleasure Island, Limited” which was chartered in British Honduras as a private company in 1968. The object was to develop Long Caye as a “resort complex for men” to include a 96-room hotel, casino, large pool, airstrip, docking pier, golf course, etc. At the time, Jackson’s father, one of five directors, was “Secretary pro tem” of Pleasure Island and shares were offered for sale. (PIL had a share capital of $2,400,000 divided into 2,400,000 shares issued at $1 each.)

Expectations for success and a good return on investment were high. This is from the original “statement of purpose” for Pleasure Island:

“One priceless opportunity available to this company is the fact that six of our present shareholders are with the news media, and have agreed to place any number of clever articles as reportings, which, would not only boost our bookings, but also pave the way for expansion.”

For various reasons the plans to turn Long Caye into a “resort complex for men” fell through. In 1974, Edwards suggested another way to develop the island. (British Honduras had been a “crown colony” since 1862. Full, internal self-government under a ministerial system was granted in January 1964. The official name of the territory was changed from British Honduras to Belize in June 1973, and full independence was granted on September 21, 1981.) However, since Pleasure Island Limited had no funds at the time, Edwards offered to raise the initial capital, carry out surveys, provide supervision, assemble a sales and construction group, provide an underwriter, establish a banking facility, and coordinate efforts to ease tax consequences to PIL and shareholders. Edwards offered to accomplish this through the Allied Corporation in Florida (in which he held all shares), Sterling Securities, Ltd in Nassau (in which he was a stockholder, officer-director), British Bank of Commerce, Ltd in Belize (in which he was a stockholder), and Silverbank, Ltd. in the Caymans (in which he owned all shares.) Part of this plan included releasing 150 “typical” residential lots to the developer for initial sales.

It appears that plan also fell through, as in March of 1975, PIL gave a 2-year lease to one of its shareholders, Ben Roberts, for 10 acres on the northeast side of “Pleasure Island” to set up a Marine Biology study program in combination with a sports fishing lodge. (Incidentally, though deceased, Mr. Roberts still owns 2,500 shares in PIL)

At about that time, Edwards put forth another proposition giving shareholders the opportunity to exchange their shares for actual property on Long Caye as a means of liquidating PIL. The plan was to lay out lots on the most readily usable areas of Long Caye (the area now called Loggerhead) and provide crew for construction and other improvements, freshwater, electricity, and waste disposal, sea and air transportation, radio communications, continuous maintenance facilities, security, overall management, and booking/rental of privately-owned cottages. The plan also called for construction of a lodge-clubhouse with a bar and lounge, stores of food, beverages, fishing tackle, snorkel gear, and fuel, dockage, skiffs and motors, guides. The idea was that shareholders would exchange their shares (now at an evaluation of $3.70 per share) for actual property.

Each lot was given a reference selling-price evaluation. For example,  “seafront” lots were valued as high as $9790 (requiring little or no improvement) and “mini-lots”  might be valued as low as $4790 (farthest from the beach, requiring more than moderate improvement).

 The shareholder was to return his shares to PIL in exchange for a parcel(s) of equivalent value and then elect to a) receive a deed in any name he chooses or b) have the selected parcel held by the company for sale with proceeds going to the shareholder. 

Among other things this agreement required that  Edwards be appointed as PIL’s general manager at $1.00/year, and that  all shareholders participate in the exchange of shares for land parcels, with the exception of Edwards.

In May of 1975, a shareholders meeting was called by the directors and held in Cocoa Beach, Florida. There were four directors present and sixteen shareholders, representing 126,000 shares. Edward’s plan was approved and shareholders were instructed to return their shares to be put into escrow with the understanding that their parcel(s) would be automatically transferred to them.  Upon transfer of title of the respective parcels, including those of the directors, all shares would be returned to the company’s (PIL’s) treasury.

For example, an individual with 9,400 shares might end up with title to one “sea front” and three “lagoon front” parcels.  

However, there were a couple of hiccups to this plan, including a lengthy set of conditions imposed by the government of Belize, which Edwards was able to break out of after a “two-day discussion” with the Lands Commissioner, who was described by Edwards as  “an old friend.”  The other issue was what would have been an unwieldy process in Belize for exchanging shares for land titles.  The solution was to 1) set up a Florida corporation to handle financing of the project, 2) transfer part of Edwards’ shares to the new company, making the new company a member of PIL, and 3) provide for PIL shareholders to relinquish their certificates to the new company when (and only when) they had received $10 and a certificate to the designated parcel.  According to Edwards, “This method also offers a solution to a problem I have been at a loss to solve: how to insulate PI Ltd (PIL) from any and all financial responsibilities and/or liabilities that might arise – PI Ltd will be the operating company.”

 The name of the new company, reserved in Tallahassee, Florida, with 99% of shares to be owned by Edwards, was Caribbean Reefs.  At a special meeting of the Board of Directors of PIL in November of 1975 it was agreed that Jackson’s father would transfer certain shares from his personal holdings to Caribbean Reefs, Inc. so that Caribbean Reefs could become a member of Pleasure Island Limited in compliance with Belize Companies Ordinance. By this time, Edwards and a Mr. L.R. Balderamos were the only directors of PIL, with Edwards acting as President, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Managing Director.

And so it went…..for the most part. Shareholders were to turn in their shares and “Edwards will begin improvements on the Cay at once.”  That was in 1975!

In 1979, some shareholders who turned in their shares finally received a Transfer Certificate of Title and a plot map showing which plots they now owned.  Other shareholders, for whatever reason, were not so lucky. I have heard from one of the original shareholders who turned in his share certificates (5,500) and received a plat map indicating that his share represented ownership of lots A-14 (sea-front) and B-14 (sea-view). In spite of his best efforts, he never received a deed, title, certificate of land transfer, property reports or similar documents.  Indeed, those 2 lots are now designated as lots 14 and 29 and belong to someone else. It is not known how these other individuals acquired them, but they do appear as “available” on PIL’s website from 2000 and were offered for sale at $15,000 and $9,000 respectively.  Now, it appears that instead of owning two very desirous lots on Long Caye, this gentleman is still listed as a shareholder in Pleasure Island Limited, currently valued at $1 each. As a point of reference, in 2007, lots 35 and 36 (somewhat less desirable than the two he thought he was acquiring, were offered for sale for $25,000 each.

So, yes, this gentleman and his heirs do appear to have a very legitimate gripe with Pleasure Island Limited.

I realize that’s a very long-winded rebuttal to a simple statement made by Freed, but it did give me an opportunity to try to explain some of the history of Long Caye and Pleasure Island Limited, based on the information I now have. Please let me know if you have anything to add.

For example, we do not know what happened to Caribbean Reefs, Inc. Nor do we know how Jackson Edwards III (current director of Pleasure Island Limited) came to acquire Long Caye and/or the 155,170 shares he now owns in Pleasure Island Limited.

On a side note: a recent inquiry to the Belize Companies Registry has revealed that, according to Pleasure Island Limited’s annual report,  filed on January 19, 2011, there are still a total of 2,400,000 shares valued at $1.00 each. The total number of shares “taken up” as of Dec 31, 2010, was 613,840, owned by:

  • Blake Ross  - 165,170 shares (Note: Blake is married to Sara Edwards, Jackson Edwards III’s sister.)
  • Jackson Edwards III - 155,170 shares
  • Swordfish International Corp, a Bahamain IBC – 30,000 shares purchased in August of 2007
  •  ACE Star International Corp, a Bahamian IBC – 30,000 shares purchased in August of 2007
  • Robert E. Barton – 26,139 shares purchased in August of 2005
  • Neil H. Zobler – 26,139 shares puchased in August of 2005
  • John W. Rohrback (deceased) – 26,502 shares
  • Donald Jakeway (deceased) – 21,690 shares
  • Jim Cullinan - 1,000 shares purchase in November of 2009
  • Additional shareholders each holding less than 20,000 shares.

In total, there are 47 shareholders, of whom 13 are “deceased.”  For what it’s worth, the total number of shares owned by people who are “deceased” is 75,692.  It must make for some very interesting shareholder’s meetings. 

Blake Ross and Jim Cullinan are directors of PIL and Jackson Edwards III is the Managing Director.

And why is this important to people who own property on Long Caye?  Through the recently revised Eco-guidelines, Pleasure Island Limited appears to have  set itself up as the self-appointed governing body for the entire Island of Long Caye.  In spite of the “activation” of the property owners association, property owners still have very little, if any, voice, at all. I firmly believe that parcel holders have a right to know everything there is to know about who is attempting to “govern” them.

According to Mr. Freed, “If you buy a piece of land on an Island in Belize from a guy and don’t get the proper paperwork to prove it’s yours, its YOUR fault.”  Indeed, here in the United States we have title companies to protect the interests of the buyer. They don’t have title companies in Belize.

“Title or escrow services are usually handled by a qualified attorney. Although some companies may offer title insurance, the best and safest bet is to hire an attorney to undertake and complete a title search during your due diligence period. This will ensure that there are no pending judgments or other interests on the title and that title is completely transferable to the buyer – free of any encumbrances. Some attorneys also serve well for escrow services, particularly when dealing with foreign currency and transfers.”  From: http://www.belizerealestate.bz/page-Life+in+Belize-13.html

In any case, the land and shares were clearly sold by Pleasure Island Limited and not just some guy in Belize.   

In a phone conversation with a representative at the Department of the Environment (DOE) in Belize this morning,  we were told that the document known as the Eco-guidelines was not a contract with the Government of Belize. He said that their office did review the revised Eco-guidelines as submitted by PIL and did make some recommendations on environmental issues only. He also said that any other provisions in the eco-guidelines, those not dealing specifically with the environment, are a matter between the property owners and Pleasure Island Limited.

(Incidentally, the DOE is very aware of your concerns.  Though they may not have  responded to you, they do have  a folder full of  letters, faxes, and emails from parcel holders objecting to provisions in the eco-guidelines. However, the DOE’s concern is only with those provisions directly related to the environment.)

There is a  binding contract between the Government of Belize and Pleasure Island Limited: the Environmental Compliance Plan or ECP.

We have obtained a copy of that ECP, dated October 1, 2001, which can be found here.  It very clearly states the environmental mitigation that is required on Long Caye to protect the environment and details what PIL’s obligation is in this regard. What is not clear is how and why the provisions of the ECP morphed into the document now known as the Eco-guidelines, the provisions of which many parcel holders think are unacceptable and have been complaining about, long before the newly revised guidelines were made public.

During the course of a casual meeting with three property owners in February of 2010, it was suggested to the directors of PIL (Jackson Edwards, Blake Ross, and Jim Cullinan) that the environmental safeguards for Long Caye should be put in a contract that was entirely separate from the one that would deal specifically with parcel holder and home owner issues. Further it was suggested that PIL could administer the contract dealing with environmental issues only and the property owners association (actually controlled by parcel holders) would administer the other one.

That suggestion was essentially  ignored and  none of the parcel holders at that meeting were asked for further input on the Eco-guidelines before they were submitted to the DOE nor were any other parcel holders.  We have only heard from one parcel holder, currently building on Long Caye, to say that they saw a copy of the revised eco-guidelines before they were posted on this blog.

Incidentally, the DOE for Belize has a new website: http://www.doe.gov.bz/index.html, which has a lot of very helpful information, including copies of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s) for various development projects filed from February of 2007 to the present time.

Eventually, they will also have all of the Environmental Compliance Plans (ECP’s) online also. The ECP is the binding contract.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers