By Antonis Loizou
From time to time it comes to our attention either through our own experience or through information from our readers, various situations that can only be described as “odd”.
Some of these odd situations we understand occur in undeveloped countries, but not in an E.U. member state which aspires to become better.
A commercial and residential project erected 40 years ago along the Paphos coastal road (Poseidon) is in turmoil.
The project has a wide private pavement along the road and local shops took over some of this pavement and used it for placing tables and goods for the passers-by, creating a certain cacophony and interrupting the smooth pedestrian flow.
Approximately 10 years ago the Municipality of Paphos wrote to the shop owners suggesting the extension of the shops to a certain line within the private pavement and suggested a uniform structure for an extension charging the owners approximately €20,000/each.
Duly paid and constructed (by the Municipality) the project was improved and, in its appearance, and utilization for all, customers/dinners/bar uses etc.
Suddenly after 10 years of the “new” project operation, the administrative committee wrote to the shop owners suing them for damages for the illegal extension.
The private pavement extension was done by the Planning Authority (the Municipality of Paphos) so who is to blame, the owners, the administrative committee, the Municipality (either of the two but not the owners).
A mess dear reader with a similar situation appearing along the hotels’ road at Paralimni and at Ayia Napa, as well as just about everywhere in Cyprus.
A most interesting case when it goes to the court and more interesting will be the court’s decision.
Paralimni seashore protection zone
Another odd situation is where privately owned properties cannot build any structure within the seashore protection zone (not even a pergola).
The Municipality of Paralimni has leased beach properties within the protection zone and has erected/allowed, the building of kiosks (for the sale of refreshments) which suddenly are converted into bars and restaurants.
So, the same Planning Authority is the one contravening the law. Shocking, but more shocking, is the fact that whereas the District Officer has told the Municipality to demolish such structures, the Municipality does not bother to reply.
Another odd situation is the subsidence of the soil in the Pissouri region (one locality) as well as that of Armou village and others.
On the one hand, the laws require that building design structures should be approved by the District Officer, but quite oddly, the Auditor General says that the approval of the structure design is just a formality and as such the Government has no responsibility.
Why then the requirements of approval for the structures? – Odd?
Increased Building Density
The recently introduced increase to building density for certain areas has created problems for existing properties, including the height, causing damage to residents in terms of view, sunlight etc.
We understand that eligible owners can utilize the increased density, but on the other hand, we are faced with damage to others.
Who will pay any reasonable compensation for those affected and who is in the wrong?
So here we are, we have built a new 15 km motorway connecting Paphos airport to the town but environmental issues concern the remaining 1 km of the highway.
The end result, there is no link which will facilitate the shortening of the airport/town travel by approximately 15 minutes. No one knows how this situation can be resolved.
In our opinion, we should place due weight to the environment, but on the other hand, we should place more weight on the safety of travellers and the well-being of the locals and the economy. Who has a priority?
Αyia Napa Golf
Here we are with Ayia Napa/Paralimni Municipality hosting 40% of the tourists, but it has the shortest season and golf could help extend the season and provide jobs for the locals and others.
Yet the same people who would have benefited from this project, are the same people who voted No for their own small politics. An odd situation indeed.
A similar odd situation exists with the improvement of the Larnacas-Dhekelia coastal road. The three local Municipalities are in disagreement on whether the road should be widened despite shocking deadly accidents that this road creates. So, what do we do?
Most of these Nos come from small pressure groups, who had the same stand for Nicosia’s Athalassa forest to be used as a public park (which is now a jewel for Nicosia, especially for the children/parents, sports facilities).
At that time, the Government turned a deaf ear on such protests, and we have what we have now, a centre for enjoyment by all.
The environment should be protected, but to the extent that it does not affect the well-being of the people.
Such an issue was decided by the European Court of Justice on the expansion of the development zone into a Natura area in Hungary, which decided in favour of the well-being of the people.
Natura does not prohibit development but restricts it to low-density uses and with due care to the environment.
We, in this country, go the other way and projects such as the Shacolas Limni development golf area fail, whereas the Akamas long-awaited project is yet to be decided (be it that it is ongoing for the last 20 years) since the locals object to it.
We must bear in mind that in this country, due to the limitations imposed by our constitution, restrictions that are imposed on real estate owners that affect the value of the real estate should be so compensated.
There are other numerous odd situations such as that of the Sotira beach (Ayia Thekla) which is now the top destination both for locals and weddings.
The beach facilities provided by Paralimni Municipality such as showers/WC/changing rooms have improved the environment and health of the bathers, but yet the same so-called environmental pressure groups object to it.
It is an odd country, trying to find ourselves and although we are improving, the procedures of democracy are such that it makes it a long effort.
As Winston Churchill said, “democracy is not the best system, but it is the best until we find something better”.