The Central Abaco District Council held its monthly meeting on February 4. Invited guests included Ms. Gaynelle Rolle of the Business License Department, Mr. William Krezel, engineer with the Ministry of Works, and Ms. Kimbilee Wells of Environmental Health. This followed an extensive walk-about tour of the Pigeon Peas and Mudd shanty towns on a fact-finding tour earlier this same day. The group was led by Administrator Charles Moss and included many government heads of departments.
Ms. Rolle was quizzed extensively by Chief Councillor George Cornish on business license protocols which some feel are arbitrarily approved with no concern for community values. Specifically, this related to bars and number houses being allowed in residential areas and potentially by schools and churches. Another district had a similar issue with a restaurant being allowed to serve alcoholic beverages in a town opposed to any alcoholic beverages being sold there.
Nassau has recently instituted a new online application process for business licenses. When the relevant documents are in order, an approval is given without regard to whether the location is appropriate and without any consultation with affected community persons.
Since Nassau has residential and commercial zoned areas, business applications there are approved based on the zoning designations. However, settlements in the Family Islands have grown haphazardly without zoning. In the past, business locations were approved or rejected based on local knowledge by Licensing Board members.
Local government’s authority to issue business licenses was rescinded, replaced by a single person appointed by government who is authorized to issue licenses when documents and required inspections were met. The business location is not a factor in these inspections. Under the previous system, the local licensing board members had final authority and gave much consideration to the proposed location. The business location is not a significant factor when Family Island applicants apply online for a business license.
Ms. Rolle is aware of the apparent injustice by the online application system concerning Family Island settlements. She is working with her superiors to modify the system to require local consultation.
Chief Councillor Cornish was quite vocal in stating that local government was put in place to allow local people to make decisions affecting their communities and quality of life. He objects to being the local complaint department for decisions made in Nassau.
On other Council business, required bulletin boards will be installed in each of Central Abaco’s four communities.
The Department of Education is requesting that names be submitted of outstanding local educators for consideration in renaming Central Abaco Primary School and Abaco Central High School.
Town Committee chairmen were asked to review the attendance of their members who serve on the statutory boards for their interest and compliance with their duties. Some boards are inoperative due to non-active members. These inactive persons may be removed and replaced by others.