Controversy continues about land in Tamarindo

Written by Tamarindo News
  • Chamber of Commerce and Tourism of Tamarindo and some residents request precautionary measures to Dispute Tribunal.
  • Business developer calls for justice and says Municipal Council acted illegally by stopping construction.

The destiny of land located between markers 126 and 128 in Playa Tamarindo, in front of Cabinas Marielos, continues to involve a group of residents, the Municipality of Santa Cruz as well as with the developer of the restaurant and cafeteria that began construction weeks ago.

Given the discrepancy, members of the Tamarindo community interested in developing a public park in the place, named Pico Pequeño, presented their disagreements about the construction of the restaurant to the Municipal Council of Santa Cruz since in 2016 the previous Municipal Council had declared the land to be of public interest and even awarded resources for its construction.

In addition, the residents organized a drive to support the Park project that resulted in the collection of 400 signatures, according to the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (CCTT).

On the other hand, Carlos Cárdenas, the restaurant developer, had begun the construction with the permits granted by the Municipality.

He also claimed that the property is a legal concession issued by that organization, as well as the ICT and it is duly registered. In light of opposing views, the Municipal Council, through a Special Commission, submitted a report on April 4, 2017, in which it recommended that the concerned Tamarindo residents should go to court and, while the situation was being clarified, it ordered a 22-business day halt to the construction on the property.

The Municipal Council issued this report by unanimous decision and stated: “Agreement totally approved…to halt to the construction that is being realized in the concession on behalf of Mr Elder López Duarte, in Playa Tamarindo, for a 22-business day term, in order to better assess the situation.”

Through official communication SM- 0198- Ord 14-2017 of Wednesday, April 5, the Santa Cruz Mayor, Onías Contreras Moreno, Maritime and Terrestrial Zone Coordinator, Elder López, concessionaire, John Osborne and other concerned people, were notified about this decision. Later, on April 6, the Mayor instructed her subordinates of the Inspection Department to halt construction of the cafe in order that its developers be notified.

THE Tamarindo News learned that the Municipal Department notified the developers on April 7. Constructor Sanabria signed the notification when received. Some residents report that, despite the council order and the notification, works continued.

“The construction, albeit slow, goes ahead. Since Wednesday, April 12 till today (April 27, 2017 for our readers) they blasted column bases, removed forms from blasted columns bases, put steel plates over blasted column bases to set the steel structure, built another double-tall barrier in SARAN. We have photos of all the processes,” said John Osborne, neighbor and Pico Pequeño supporter.

Along the same lines, another resident, Anahí Contreras, said: “Works continued illegally, even with the stop command for 22 days. The construction continued illegally during Holy Week. In fact, I have taken videos of the work during those days.

” In the light of this situation, the Chamber of Tourism and Commerce of Tamarindo and some residents requested precautionary measures from the Dispute Tribunal with the aim that the Municipality of Santa Cruz fulfill the order of freezing the construction. In the brief presented by attorney Walter Brenes, it is indicated by photographic proof and a notarized act of April 7 that, during Holy Week, the works at the Pico Pequeño Park “progressed considerably,” without “corresponding authorities executing their halt.”

“Besides, the construction is being carried out in an area previously declared to be of public interest to the people of Tamarindo, given that the construction of Pico Pequeño Park had been designed and approved to be in that place,” Brenes said.

Hernán Imhoff, President of the CCTT, said that the request for the precautionary measures was intended for greater legal certainty to force work stoppage through a court order to safeguard the common good.

“The request to the court is being made to protect the use of public sites for the benefit of the entire community. In addition, it’s to prevent further environmental damage in the event of continuing with the work. It is a struggle we are dealing with in favor of the community,” Imhoff said.

On April 10, Judge of Dispute Tribunal, Lindsay Rodríguez Cubero, declared that the provisional precautionary measures requested by the CCTT and a group of residents were “inappropriate” given that “the Court cannot execute administrative acts applicable to the Municipality of Santa Cruz,” but highlighted in the notification that the Municipal Police, according to article two of Security Regulation, Neighborhood Watch and Municipal Tax Control, has the authority to “Ensure compliance with state laws, Municipal resolutions, administrative acts and other binding Municipal actions.” Rodríguez conferred to a hearing of the Municipality of Santa Cruz and to Elder López, the concessionaire, that for precautionary measures and everyone must provide their respective evidence.

Briefed on the situation, Mayor of Santa Cruz, María Rosa López, said she abided by the Municipal Council and that the notification had been sent to the construction owner through the Inspection Department.

“No seals nor yellow ribbons were put within the works. There was no fault. This administration cannot prevent the works. An order to freeze the works has not been issued.”

THE Tamarindo News wanted to know the opinion of Carlos Acuña, President of th Municipal Council, but he did not answer our calls, at press time.

Business developer calls for justice Carlos Cárdenas, developer of the restaurant on the property in question, told THE Tamarindo News that he has operated within the law all the time and that, before starting the process, he had carried out a comprehensive study of the concession file of the property, granted to Elder López in 2004.

“I want them to tell us what is irregular and illegal,” Cárdenas warned.

He also affirmed that he holds a legal construction permit granted by the Municipality of Santa Cruz, having made all the necessary paperwork beforehand. When asked why, despite the Municipal Council´s decision order to halt construction for 22 business days until clarification, he continued building, Cárdenas said: “I froze the work for two weeks. Our lawyer advised us that a construction permit is granted or is not granted. The law is on our side. If there was a problem in the work, if we are doing something wrong, we receive a warning. If we don´t correct the infringement, the construction can be paralyzed.”

“The construction permit was granted by the Municipal Construction Department. The Municipal Council is not above the Law. What the Municipality is doing at the moment is illegal. They can´t paralyze the works. The Construction Department must stamp the seals and hasn´t done so because it is not allowed to do such a thing. The permit is legal. The Dispute Tribunal is the one that proceeds against the decisions and issues the precautionary measures, but not the Municipal Council,” Cárdenas added.

“I stopped the construction for two weeks, which cost me ¢40 million. Every single day that goes by, I lose ¢3,6 million. The Council acted arbitrarily, violating my rights,” he said.

He also adds that he is feeling persecuted and he is annoyed because, according to his opinion, the ones that oppose his project have improperly manipulated the community.

“They are telling the people something fake. They say we are stealing a property that belongs to a park, when this property has been registered as a private concession since 2004. They are pressuring the Municipal Council. Is it illegal, is it wrong a concession granted by the ICT, with a public record and that was registered as required by law?” he highlighted.

Cárdenas also added: “The Municipal Council is not made up by specialized people in the matter. The Pico Pequeño Park promoters arrived and asked to declare the area of public interest. No study was made, there was no confiscation, not even the landowner was notified. There were no kind of consultations, even though there was an edict in La Gaceta in this regard. By that time, nobody opposed. An illegal situation begins like this.”

Tamarindo residents support Pico Pequeño future Some Tamarindo residents told THE Tamarindo News their opinions about the legal action overtaken by the CCTT and some community members. Here’s what they had to say:

Gian Luca Arcieri : “I support the Chamber of Commerce´s efforts because by moving this at the highest level, our voice may be heard. It is incredible that the Muni halts a project, giving a specific order and that the developer openly mocks them and the whole town as well. All this really goes to show that here people do whatever they please, in daylight. It is a shame.”

Anahí Contreras:  “I wonder whether Mr. Cárdenas does not care about the opinion of more of 500 residents that signed against the construction”.

Ross Menking: “The construction was not shut down after the Council´s decision, which makes me think that there are economic interests of some individuals in the Municipality, when the only interest should be with the public. I still don´t understand why the construction has not been shut down and works are on progress. This is very bad for the Municipality´s credibility. The Mayor is protecting her lawyer Verny Cordero and her businesses.”

Stephen Denton:  “I find it odd that, all of a sudden, a public land becomes a business property and owns construction permits. Obviously, this doesn´t make any sense. Definitely, I agree with the halt until the situation becomes clearer.”

Helen Acosta Jaén:  “I fully support whatever measure that protects green areas within our community, especially, the efforts realized by the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism of Tamarindo. Public spaces are very important for the normal development of a community and, definitely, this matter is a worthwhile fight.”

John Osborne : “The Council´s order was direct to the Municipality: halt the works for 22-business days. A construction halt for research requires not only seal stamping but some investigation: to define the construction progress and costs, to take photos, etc. These items are considered in a serious matter. As far as I know, none of this has been done.”

Marianela Guillén Salas:  “… As a neighbor, I witnessed how construction progressed during Holy Week. As a citizen, I asked the Municipal Police some information (Municipal of Santa Cruz Police Office fax number or address) which was denied.”

Brock Menking : “Two other times constructions have beenstarted and terminated due to “irregularities” in the concession. By some kind of miracle the Municipality finally approved Parque Pico Pequeño. This was achieved by a great deal of hard work done by people who care about Tamarindo. The park has been approved by ICT, and the Municipality of Santa Cruz. Funds have been allocated for construction and plans have been completed. But here we go again. The same concession as other times is being used again. Do we really need another restaurant?”

Federico Pilurzu:  “I would like to ask everybody in Tamarindo: Will we let the strongest keep on winning, imposing their wills on others, satisfying their personal interests? Or are we going to stand up and fight for the good of all, because we really believe there is a better future for this town and its environment?


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