A group of residents from Tamarindo has asked the Municipal Council of Santa Cruz to suspend a permit granted for a restaurant currently under construction on the beachfront diagonal from Cabinas Marielos.
The petition was presented on behalf of the Tamarindo signees on March 21 at a Municipality session that was also asked to clarify how the permit was granted to the restaurant owner if there was apparently an agreement already made by the Council in 2016. That decree had declared the land to be of public interest and could be developed as a small park. Yet, recently, the Municipality granted permits for the café to be built.
THE Tamarindo News has learned from María Rosa López, Mayor of Santa Cruz, that the Municipality commission will be reviewing the dispute and there will be an answer delivered in 15 days.
The property in question has been involved in a long complicated debate which has culminated in the present time between Carlos Cárdenas, who said he sublet the concession rights in order to build a café, and a number of people in the town of Tamarindo who have organized against the construction.
The confusion about who could build on the land came to light when a local construction company, at the behest of Cárdenas, cut down two palm trees on March 14, in order to begin construction on the restaurant.
That’s when some people of Tamarindo notified Ross Menking, architect John Osborne, architect José Colombari and José Luis Rivera González who were working on their own time to help make the park a reality. After receiving approval from the Santa Cruz Municipality, Osborne and Colombari along with students of the Veritas University had already designed the area as a community park.
One of those trees was located within the public zone of the 50m Land Maritime Zone, and there was no request made to the Municipality for permission to cut it down which is required by the Forestry Law 7575 and Manual R-SINAC-028 regulation.
“I did a lot of paperwork to determine that area: it is not a national park, it is not a reservation, we asked for the environmental viability of SETENA and they told us that we have to ask for permission if we consider deforestation. In short, for any tree we require permission from SINAC to tell us okay. I went to the SINAC and was told that for a palm tree no permission was required. My mistake was not asking for this criterion in writing,” explained Cárdenas.
A day later, construction began on land that was granted concession in 2003 to Elder López Duarte in G-898152-2003 plan, a controversial situation in and of itself. In essence, López gave a sublet to Paul Pavlik, who struck a deal with Cárdenas. This is the third time that López has tried to sublet his land. Seems there’s always been controversy over what Brock Menking calls a “tiny little triangle of land.”
Menking reported that he took care of the land for 35 years, chopped and cleaned it until one year after López got the concession, when he learned of the new owner and the “irregularities” in the situation. Menking made a legal case in 2004 about the land, and was involved over the years in fights as other businesses tried to build there. This latest conflict for the area began in 2013, when the architects, together with a community work plan from students of the Veritas University, were endorsed by the Municipality of Santa Cruz, to begin the design of a public park among the areas 126 and 128 in Playa Tamarindo.
Osborne said the idea of Pico Pequeño Park was “to protect the little that remains of public access to the beach and, at the same time, to beautify it.”
The area is currently used for informal parking. Even as late as last March 1, 2016, the Municipality was onboard with the park, because they then awarded 36 million colones towards its construction. This past March 19, about 300 signatures were collected from Tamarindo people supporting the Pico Pequeño Park opposing the authorization given by the Santa Cruz Municipality for the construction of the restaurant project.
At the Santa Cruz council meeting on March 21, which was attended by community members from Tamarindo who traveled on their own, there was an agreement by Municipality to look into the conflict. The council announced that they would take 15 days to investigate the situation.
“What they did not answer was when and in what document is the information that revoked or was contrary to the unanimous vote that the Municipal council made on April 16 of last year. That document declared the zone between milestones 126, 127, 128 to be public in order to create Pico Pequeño Park,” said Osborne.
“There was silence on this issue and there was silence at the felling of a palm tree by the owners of the building permit that was located in the 50m public area.”
Osborne told THE Tamarindo News, that when the Municipality granted a permit to Cárdenas, they did so without recalling that the architects were also granted permission for the park. He was informed in mid-February by Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Tamarindo (ADI) that there were problems with the park.
That’s when members of the community organized to approach the Municipality. “If there is no record to revoke the administrative order and no explanation of the procedure by which this was done then there is no clarity in the reason why there are two permits or authorizations for two different projects in the same area,” explained Osborne, about the council’s decision.
“We have more seniority and greater weight because our approval came directly from the administrative body vote for the public interest of that area to be destined as a park.” “It is necessary that they investigate and clarify this before allowing any of the two projects to move forward, but they have not decided to do this,” he added about the fact that construction of the restaurant at this point continues something they had hoped to stop while the matter is resolved. For his part, the developer of the café expressed his disagreement with the handling of this matter, particularly the way it’s been addressed by some people in the community and in social networks.
“All the permits I have obtained are legal,” Cárdenas told THE Tamarindo News. “I have suffered an outrage and an injustice. There are people who lie and make irresponsible use of the media such as social networks and manipulate the people to say things that are not true.
” Cárdenas, who also manages Chocolate Hotel in Tamarindo, said that he has “rigorously met all requirements to obtain the permit. The project will be developed in a property of 225 meters of which we are only authorized by the strong restrictions to develop 35 percent. So it will be about 80 square meters. The restrictions of SETENA are many so we will not be able to build more than in that area and they indicated to us that we have to construct a water treatment plant that we will do and that treated water will be donated to the park for the green zones. Our idea is that this generates employment for about 15 people.”
“The lawyer who represents the concessionaire tells me about the lot and I go to the Municipality and find out that everything with the concession is in order. I realized that in the past this concession had several problems and so I asked for the file number and I started to investigate.” said Cárdenas.
“I determined that there was a judicial process where a Judge of the Republic after years of disputes declared as the owner of the concession to Mr. Elder López and seeing that everything was registered in the Public Registry and before the judge’s pronouncement I am satisfied and I think about doing the business of renting the concession to carry out the development.” added Cárdenas.
Menking doesn’t know what will come of the latest fight and speculated that because the Municipality didn’t stop the construction, it may end up being too late for one of Tamarindo’s last public spots.
“So often with these problems there is involvement by a lot of money, so it’s hard to deal with,” he said.
“This is just a tiny square in town, but it’s the last chance you can see the beach from the road.” Cárdenas concluded: “I will not take 10 months of getting permits and invest my savings to do things that are not right.”