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Quebec couple wins standoff with inspectors after court invalidates fines

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.
Petra and Michel Lagimoniere prevailed in court after inspectors shut down their residential construction project on the Yucatán coast. Photo: Facebook

Mexico’s high court sided with a retired Quebec couple who said they were threatened and illegally assessed a huge fine while attempting to build a house along the Yucatán coast.

The Supreme Court ruled that Profepa had no grounds for their actions and the shutdown of their construction project was invalid.

Michel Lagimoniere confirmed that he and his wife, Petra, prevailed after a year-and-a-half-long battle with Mexico’s environmental agency. In 2018, when the project was nearly complete, Profepa officials halted construction after the property owners refused to pay 190,000 pesos, or about US$9,500. The Lagimonieres were ostensibly being fined for violating environmental regulations.

Profepa, which they said offered no documentation to back up their accusation, later offered a “discount” of 40,000 pesos if they agreed to exchange cash in a parking lot, according to their account. The agency had allegedly been conducting a sweep of the area.

Six months later, Profepa doubled down, assessing a 500,000-peso fine — nearly US$25,000 — and threatening demolition.

The couple insists their contractor, Hector Brito Rincon, had all the permits and paperwork necessary to build the home. So they hired a lawyer and filed with the Mexico’s highest court which now has declared that Profepa had no grounds for its case.

He was praised in a Facebook post this morning for his help settling the dispute.

The Granby, Quebec couple, both graduates of the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering, first came to Progreso in 2016 and soon purchased the vacant parcel of land on which they began to build.

Petra was a master corporal in administration and Michel was a sergeant and air structure technician. They have been married for 36 years and have two children and four grandchildren.

Their house, between Chelem and Chuburna and 150 meters from the beach, is now about two weeks from completion, said Michel. It will then be listed for sale, he said, because in the meantime they built themselves another home in Progreso.

“I admire them for not giving up and leaving,” said one commenter when their account was shared Sunday on the Yucatán Beach Friends Facebook group.

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