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.