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Land Feud in Hopkins

The Hopkins Village Council is sounding the alarm tonight as a large plot of land in the community is reportedly being sold off by a private company. Love News understands that sometime in the 1980s, the village public cemetery was acquired by a private party and was sold for at least twice that amount. It’s a concern for the community because not only is there limited access to the cemetery, but it encroaches on ancestral land. We spoke to Chairman, Orlando Augustine on the issue.

Orlando Augustine, Chairman, Hopkins Village: “There is 15.21 acres of land that belongs to the people of Hopkins that was used by our ancestors when they were in New Town. And when they were in New Town this was the said land that they used for farming and a part of the land was used for cemetery. Now unfortunately somebody applied for the land in 2000 something and that individual sold the land to _________________ Now _________________ made an agreement, a memorandum of understanding with the village councils as to some of the projects they will do within the community in lieu of lands. Now that did not materialize. They did not do any of the project that they decided to do and secondly there was an uproar and protest because they were on the cemetery. Now this 15.21 acres of land is a part of the New Town Memorial Park and it is right in the document that we produced to the ______________during the memorandum of understanding. So we were given the opportunity or the authority by the Ministry of Natural Resources about five years ago; we went to court and we won the case to get the land surveyed. To get five acres but another five because ten acres were for memorial park.”

It was through one of those private transactions that the private company acquired the cemetery and the adjacent property. Both in 2002 and 2009, villagers complained and through the courts, there was an agreement to survey ten acres, but Augustine says that did not materialize. We asked the chairman how someone could have possibly acquired both the cemetery and ancestral land. Here is his response.

Orlando Augustine, Chairman, Hopkins Village: “That is the million dollar question. We did a research in Belmopan at the research section we couldn’t find any trace if the village council – normally the village council gives a recommendation when these lands are sold or when these lands are issued out to any individual but nothing like that was discovered. We did not find any information as such to say that it was done legally. That is what we did not find so we don’t know how they got.”

This evening, we spoke to Area Representative, Rodwell Ferguson via phone, who told us that he plans to meet with the parties as early as tomorrow to reach an agreement. We will continue to follow the story.