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Bonaire Executive Council has to allow construction condominium complex
The Executive Council (EC) has to allow that saliña (wetland) Vlijt opposite luxury hotel Harbour Village, which wants to build a condominium complex there, is made ready for construction.
If the Island Territory fails to do so, it will be imposed a penalty of 50,000 guilders per day, Deputy Jopie Abraham (PDB) says.
The judge held that Harbour Village has to obtain a new long lease agreement from the government. The former agreement, issued by the previous UPB Executive Council, was based on the construction of a golf course. As the plans have meanwhile changed, a different agreement has to be issued to Harbour Village, the judge held. The government will appeal from this decision, but meanwhile has to execute the decision of the judge, viz. not hinder Harbour Village in any way, on pain of forfeiture of 50,000 guilders per day. The EC first wants to have an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) made, before the saliña can possibly be built up, but Harbour Village claims that this was already done. That EIS only does not meet the prevailing criteria, Abraham says.
The saliña is presently a water buffer for a large part of the surroundings. During heavy rains, the water flows into the saliña. This means that if it is built up, floods are certainly not unthinkable. In the zoning plan that has not become effective as yet, for that matter, Saliña Vlijt remains “water storage”. On the side of Kaya Amsterdam it is a green area. Except for having the function of water buffer, the saliña is of major importance to protected birds. They live and brood in the nature conservation area but are now flattened by a bulldozer while part of the saliña is filled with diabase. An ecological disaster, nature lovers and organizations say, as appears from the videos on YouTube.
UPB responds to the commotion concerning Saliña Vlijt by stating that Harbour Village wants to build a condominium complex, it is true, which is good for employment and the tourist facilities on the island, but while preserving the saliña. The condominiums would be built along the saliña. That part is reinforced with diabase, while the saliña remains intact as nature conservation area and water buffer, and would even be strengthened by for instance planting mangroves. “Harbour Village repeatedly requested the present EC to define the lines within which it is allowed to build. When this was not answered, Harbour Village had enough and began”, Elvis Tjin Asjoe says on behalf of his party. The plans for construction in or at the nature conservation area between Kaya Gobernador Debrot and Kaya Amsterdam date back to the late eighties. In February 2000, Harbour Village obtained the leasehold of the land, linked to a development agreement.
Coordinators of the Ministries for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (“VROM”), Agriculture, Nature and Animal Husbandry (“LNV”), and Transport, Public Works and Water Management (“V&W”) advised “Drob” to first subject the consequences of the construction plans of Harbour Village to a thorough investigation, regarding how it affects the ecological value, the water storage and proper spatial planning of the area. At the moment, these Ministries are preparing citeria and recommendations together with “Drob” and “Stinapa”, notably to be able to guarantee the water storage capacity of the saliña. This advice will shortly be presented to the EC. Coordinator Manfred Beckman Lapré: “In the Netherlands a water test should first be done to determine the impact of construction. The silt that now enters the saliña together with the water should for instance constantly be removed in case of construction in order to prevent flooding.” This means that Harbour Village harms itself by building condominiums there.
Abraham states that saliña Vlijt is not the only inheritance of the previous EC that the government faces now: “There are two other hotel projects for which we are imposed high penalties now by the court because UPB issued this land and subsequently wrongly claimed it back. It even involves millions of dollars.” Abraham means Playa Marina, across from the airport, and Costa Esmeralda at Punt Vierkant.
Source: national newspaper "Amigoe" dated 8 June 2010
Mayesi Hammoud represented Harbour Village in these proceedings.