By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
KAY Forbes-Smith, head of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority, said she has no issue with a new Inter-American Development Bank report that recommends prioritising zoning regulations in Abaco and East Grand Bahama, adding officials are preparing to discuss the issue with residents of those areas.
The IDB recommended that the government design zoning plans, including for possible relocation of settlements, before large-scale reconstruction can take place in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Asked about this yesterday, Mrs Forbes-Smith said: “The DRA is actually preparing to have a number of town meetings with specific communities because we too believe there are some zoning considerations. Before you talk about zoning and how rebuilding can take place, you really want to speak to the communities. We’re planning a number of meetings involving residents in East Grand Bahama, Abaco and some of the cays.
“The government transferred two 60-acre properties to the DRA, we have the Central Pines development we are looking to do and we still have the modular housing which is medium-term housing. We have no issue with what the IDB said because we realise as an authority the need for proper zoning. Even though we have received these two 60-acre sites for development, we have to master plan that out before we consider what is to happen.”
Asked about ongoing construction efforts in the hurricane-struck areas, Mrs Forbes-Smith said: “What is happening is there are a number of business people and they are underway in terms of reconstructing their buildings but the only thing we have been trying to push is that people build back with some resilience and just recognise that you cannot build the same way we built before.”
Asked if ongoing reconstruction efforts will be an obstacle to any future zoning plans, she said: “You have some private condominium residents, you can’t say they shouldn’t build where they are because I don’t have any evidence to say they shouldn’t, but when you look at where buildings have never been in Abaco and where buildings have been destroyed, we have to start looking at these things. These issues are very sensitive issues.”