With hours to go before the authorities are expected to take action against local businessman Lance Oliver, he said that he is willing to relocate his animal farm located which is located in Villa but is asking the authorities to give him a little more time.
Oliver, the proprietor of Rent and Drive and Chill Spot was given until tomorrow, Sunday, November 25th to remove all his pigs and ducks from the area, or failure to comply will result in the authorities from the Physical Planning and Development Board (PPDB) will shut the operation down in its entirety.
Based on a letter dated September 25, 2023, from the Ministry of Transport and Works, Land and Physical Planning, indicated that based on a meeting of the Physical Planning and Development Board, held on September 12, 2023, at the Attorney General’s chambers, Oliver was given the only opportunity to discuss the issue of him operating an animal farm in a residential area, which according to them has been an issue for well over a decade.
To which the board indicated that it had decided to allow Oliver to keep up to 1,000 chickens but get to get rid of the pigs and ducks specifically.
The letter went on to indicate that Oliver needed to comply with the notice 60 days from which the letter was sent or be shut down.
But Oliver told ANN during a visit by ANN to the farm that he attended a meeting about two weeks before the notice was sent and that he had requested that he and the PPDB work together to try and resolve the issue amicably.
“So we said to them that we have chickens and to me, sometimes they are problematic in terms of they could give you the scent that could be disturbing,” Oliver told ANN.
He said that he told the authorities at the PPDB that he had the pigs under control because he had done the requisite work required to operate a pig farm including having the proper waste management system in place.
He said that he explained to the authorities that the pigs were useful for organic farming purposes and to offer his patrons at the restaurant organically grown crops.
“We don’t buy a lot of manure and so on, so we try to use the waste from the animal to fertilize the plants,” Oliver explained.
And without the farm, Oliver said that he would have to consider closing his business saying that the farm is essential to supplying the business.
Closing his business would mean having to send home all the staff at his restaurant and the 6 persons employed at the farm he said.
Relocating would also have its cost, as he experienced some time ago in Congo Valley on some land that he said he purchased.
He took some animals to that location, and they were stolen shortly after, therefore relocating would mean him having to spend more to ensure that his animals are safe.
“Those are the issues you know, financially things are bad right now so it’s not like if we just pick up and take $100,000 and go and relocate, it’s a costly venture,” he said.
The price of land was another issue, and he would still need to seek permission from the authorities before operating at a different site he told ANN.
“It’s still not sufficient because I mean, first of all, we have to, we have to be searching for a proper location, right and negotiate the location whether they are selling or leasing.
And then after there will be further operational costs associated with the farm.”
The existing facility is located on 5 acres of land owned by his in-laws, Oliver explained and he has been farming in the area for about 20 years before that, his in-laws had a farm both with livestock and crops as far back as the 1960s.
However, according to the businessman, he believed that there may be some ulterior motives behind the authorities wanting him to move.
He said that there have been complaints from mainly one family of the residents in the area, but for the most part, no one has complained to him about any issues relating to his farming operation.
Oliver told ANN that the authorities came to visit on a few occasions without any prior notice, or when he was not on the island.
Recently, Oliver said that he had written to planning in an attempt to resolve the issue this past week informing them of his involvement in negotiations with another party for the leasing of another area, clearly signaling his intention to work with the authorities although he thinks there is nothing wrong with the operations on his farm.
We indicated to Public Health and Physical Planning over 10 days ago we located a possible new location and we were waiting on the survey plans from the owner once we receive them we will write a formal letter to the PPDB for approval which we did on Thursday the 22nd of November – but the authorities at the PPDB have not responded, he said.
Attempts were made to reach out to persons on the board for a response, even the Attorney General, Grenville Williams was summoned who told him the truth was that he was not sure if the board would approve a new location.
But he said that he has heard that they have threatened that if he does not comply, they will move in and remove everything. James from Public Health told us quite clearly and firmly that we will be getting no extension and all the animals will be removed.
“Please note the PPDB themselves have never visited the farm despite we have invited them on several occasions” Oliver said