Prime Minister Perry Christie on March 22 tabled in Parliament a resolution for the acquisition of more than 460 acres of land in Moore’s Island, Abaco.
Mr. Christie said it was a matter of “extreme importance,” and that the move will guarantee that residents of Moore’s Island now have the title to 464.4 acres of land they now occupy.
However, at least some portion of the property which is proposed to be transferred from the Bahamas Treasury to the Ministry of Housing appears to privately owned, and already has clear title.
According to an old survey that shows original grants of property over a hundred years ago all property in Moores Island had been granted to individuals leaving no government owned (or Crown Land) properties on the island.
Over the years as individuals built or squatted on properties across the island clear titles have become difficult to come by as much of the land is disputed. However, the portion of land sitting between Hard Bargain and The Bight which was originally granted to Richardson and John Saunders has a clear succession of title to William Edwards.
There is a conveyance to Mr. William D. Edwards and his brother Dr. Jefferson Edwards in 1959 who would later sell the majority of their property to local Bahamians, with a portion also donated to the Catholic Church. According to one source as many as 58 Bahamians have property with clear title in the proposed area.
A significant portion of the 464.4 acres belongs to local Moores Islanders who have clear title. In fact, those persons are among the only people able to get a mortgage or loan on their property’s title due to the fact of clear succession of ownership titles over the years.
It is unclear if or when the Treasury acquired any of the land they now are attempting to transfer to the Ministry of Housing and while it appears that possibly they are seeking to assist persons that lack clear titles, if persons in the area in question already have titles then it is unclear what if anything will be accomplished by this resolution.
The resolution Mr. Christie read: “Whereas pursuant to the provisions of the House Act Chapter 199, 2000 Revised Statute Law of the Bahamas, the minister responsible for housing is desirous of acquiring land described in the schedule for the purpose of promoting and encouraging the establishment of such projects and facilities as would appear to him to enhance the standard of living, general welfare and wellbeing of persons.
“And whereas the said land is vested in the treasurer of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, a corporation sole established under Section 4 (1) of the Ministry of Finance Act, Chapter 23, Revised Statute Law of the Bahamas 2000 in trust for Her Majesty in right of her government of the said commonwealth for public purposes.
“And whereas by section 5 (3) (a) of the said Act, the treasurer shall not sell or make any other disposition of the fee simple of any land vested in her without the prior approval of both House of Parliament signified by resolution thereof:
“Now therefore be it resolved that pursuant to section 5 (3) (a) of the said Act this House approves the conveyance by the treasurer to the minister responsible for housing of the said land.”
Debate on the resolution was expected to begin on March 27.