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Residents complain about noise, smoke from Arnos Vale businesses

Residents complain about noise, smoke from Arnos Vale businesses

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A number of residents of Arnos Vale who live in the vicinity of Chill Spot Bar and Grill, General Hardware Supplies and Aqua Lounge Restaurant and Bar are pleading with the authorities to do something about what they consider to be the negative fallout from these businesses.

One woman in particular, Rhonda {{more}}Sutherland, whose home is positioned between the three businesses, says that she is at her wits’ end and has no idea where to turn to seek solace.

On Wednesday, Sutherland stressed that for a number of months now, these businesses have been spewing huge plumes of smoke from their barbecue grills, while loud music, noise from heavy machinery and cement dust have been creating a hostile environment for her and her family and a number of other residents in the area.

Sutherland said that numerous complaints to planning officials, health personnel and the police, and even to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Minister of Transport, Works, Urban Development and Local Government Julian Francis, have had no effect.

“It’s real unfair to us. My house is in the middle of the two of them, so you can imagine what is happening. Two sets of loud amplified music every night.

The bass beats in our head. There is no rest for us. I am so tired.”

Sutherland, a civil servant, said that at first when the businesses began operating in the area, there were no issues, but as the owners began upgrading their establishments, the expansions brought along a number of health and environmental issues that to her should and can be rectified to create comfort for homeowners in close proximity to these businesses.

Chill Spot Bar and Grill is operated by Lance Oliver, while General Hardware Supplies and Aqua Lounge Restaurant and Bar are operated by Leonet Anderson.

“When General Hardware came a few months ago, he came in a little container and we gave him electricity. We did not have any problems, then he built this building and we didn’t know if he got permission and we didn’t ask because that was not our business. He went and built a restaurant, Aqua. Then it was the lumber, which is stacked 20 feet above my fence,” explained Sutherland.

The upset woman said that at one point, while persons were moving lumber, some of the wood fell on to her property and damaged a swing in an area where her son usually plays.

“From last year around February or March, there has been just roasting and barbecue and party music from Sunday to Saturday, every day until wee hours of the morning. My husband went and spoke with him and another neighbour and he (Anderson) said that he is a businessman and he could not stop,” said Sutherland adding, “when it’s not forklift and lumber and heavy trucks, it’s smoke and music until all hours. We have noise from General Hardware from early in the morning, every single day, even on Sundays we can’t get a rest.”

Sutherland said that Chill Spot started up two years ago, doing food first on weekends, then during the week and she is of the belief that Anderson followed this model.

“With Chill Spot is the same thing, roasting and music until wee hours in the morning. From my bedroom I can see everything. There is a projector with music videos, loud until morning, Karaoke from Aqua, all the loud music outside.”

Sutherland said that she is the owner of a three-bedroom house with a master bedroom, in which she can get no comfort and which has windows that she cannot open.

“I have not slept in my room for months. My son has not slept in his room for months. We have a room downstairs where we have a study and that’s what we do, we sleep there. We have moved down there and put a mattress on the floor.

My husband is 50 and I will be 45 and we can’t get a proper rest and we have to pay a mortgage for a house where we can’t sleep in our bed,” said Sutherland, with tears in her eyes.

She revealed that she had a heart procedure done in Trinidad in 2006 after she had a heart attack.

“I have a myocardial bridge; my body cannot be under stress and I have to get sleep. I take tablets to keep my blood pressure at a certain level. My nine-year-old son can’t sleep because of the noise and nobody is doing anything.

“It is almost a whole year and nobody is doing anything. The only night in 2015 we got a rest was Christmas Day. Boxing Day, they were right back at it,” said Sutherland, who has lived in that spot on the Arnos Vale Highway since 2003.

She said that they attempted to rent another house at one point, but abandoned that idea as well as one of building another house elsewhere, as she and her husband are civil servants paying a mortgage, while taking care of their son.

She commended the police for trying to help, but the business owners stress that they employ many persons while providing entertainment venues for persons to relax.

“We asked them to put in indoor cookers for roasting and Anderson said no, that coals are best. I mean, everybody knows it’s wrong.

“We are human beings, we are property owners, we are investors and there was no consultation about having these types of businesses in the area. We are not squatters; sometimes it seems as if squatters have more rights than us.

“This has changed the quality of our life; we don’t go outside anymore. We can’t open our windows. This is not good for our health. It’s really hard. Why nobody not doing anything about it? There is a noise act. Why should we have to find money to go to court when it’s right in front the eyes of the authorities?” said Sutherland.

She stressed that she doesn’t want the businesses to close, but she wants them to do the right thing.

“Put the speaker box inside, soundproof the place. Go inside with the cooking. Find some other machinery to do the cooking. My intention is not for them to close down. I don’t want them to close down, just to do things the right way,” stressed Sutherland.

Another resident, Claude Cambridge, said that from where he is located at the end of the gap that Chill Spot operates out of, the smoke and music do not affect him that much, but it is still annoying. He said that he has a problem with the waste material that runs out in the drain as it smells and attracts rodents.

Alinda Harry, who has a property bordering Anderson’s said that she has sought the help of the planning authorities to have Anderson remove a toilet that hangs over her property. She said that once, the pipe burst and rained sewage on to her property, while the food attracts rats.

“I mean, he selling food there and so much dust in that place. The music and noise and smoke is bad. I don’t know how the children in the area stand it,” said Harry who is 70 years old and operates a nursing home in the area.

She said that in her opinion, more of this type of activity may soon plague the area, as there are talks of making Arnos Vale into a city.

Another resident who prefers to remain anonymous said that he too is fed up with the businesses in the area, as he cannot open his windows at times due to the smoke.

Surprisingly, two females who live in close proximity of the businesses said that they do not have a problem, as they are not affected by anything, while a church member who frequents a church adjacent to Chill Spot said that the smoke does not affect him that much. Another male neighbour, who did not want to give his name, said that he is not affected either, while Andre Sutherland who operates a business in the area told SEARCHLIGHT that he has no issues with the businesses in question.

Anderson could not be reached for a comment, but Oliver said that since the complaints began, he has been steadily improving his operations at his business, which provides employment for over 50 persons.

“We can’t put barbecue inside, but what we have done is put two extractor fans that divert the smoke upwards and we are currently in the process of getting even two bigger fans,” said Oliver.

He said that the Sutherlands have businesses of a similar nature that they operate in the country and in his opinion they are overreacting, as significant improvements have been made on his part.

“Anybody who comes here will know that we do not play our music that loud. On Fridays we may get into some live steel band music, but we never brought amplified music and we have no intention of doing that,” said Oliver.

“All we do here is that we try to create a lime here where people can come and a lot of people will be really upset if we close. We also employ a lot of people,” said Oliver.

He added also that he has just secured a parking area, while he keeps his premises extremely clean, as he is catering for the environment. Oliver added that officials from the Ministry of Health have commended them on some of the things that they have done in the area.

“I find some of these people are very selfish because they are involved in businesses of a similar nature in other parts of the country,” said Oliver.

When contacted on Wednesday, an official from the Ministry of Planning said that the area in question is not governed by proper zoning laws that prevent the operation of these businesses.

He said that persons can however turn to the Noise Act to address issues pertaining to noise.(LC)

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