“Fraser Building” in Nosara Has Municipal Permit to Build Half of the Building

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Contrary to what was believed, the building known as the Fraser building does have up-to-date construction permits. However, copies of the three municipal construction permits reveal that more was built without permission. The building is owned by businessman John Fraser Donovan and is located across from the Nosara plaza.

The first permit is from 2005 for a commercial construction with an area of 800 square meters.  The second from 2009 is for a commercial area of 250 square meters, while the third, also from 2009, corresponds to 128 square meters for stairs and an elevator shaft.

In total, the construction area with permits processed through the Municipality of Nicoya is 1.178 square meters. However, the contracts processed through the Federated College of Engineers and Architects (CFIA- Colegio Federado de Ingenieros y Arquitectos) total 2,176 square meters, in other words 998 square meters less.

Regarding this difference in meters, Sheyla Milanes, coordinator of the regional branch of the CFIA, said that “there is an area that was not legalized. You could say that [the building] does not comply with established legislation.”

Josue Ruiz, the engineer in charge of the municipal engineering department, explained that the maximum extra area permitted by the municipality is 10% relative to the total building area, in other words in this case some 217.6 square meters. Therefore the municipality will assess penalizing the building.

Ruiz commented that the architect, Rodolfo Jimenez Brown, has been responsible for the work for five years, so the CFIA can not make an assessment of whether the structure is right or wrong. According to Ruiz, Jimenez is responsible for the structure should the building present a structural failure during the next 5 years. Upon completion of this period, the owner of the structure will be responsible for making any eventual repairs.

“We verify that a project has its plans approved, that an engineering and architecture professional is in charge of overseeing. What I observed was a building that was paralyzed. I can not say if it is okay or not. The college cannot declare a building uninhabitable. What the college does is regulate the professional practice,” explained Milanes, from the CFIA.

The Voice of Guanacaste tried to get the versions of John Fraser and Rodolfo Jimenez Brown, but by press time neither one had answered calls to their cell phones.

Last Inspection by the Engineering College

In February of 2014, the CFIA made the last inspection of the property and found that the work was halted and the building was vacant. Therefore, Juan Jose Murillo Arias, the engineer in charge of the inspection, specified that in the visit made, they observed the existence of window openings in the side walls, but Ruiz reported that the properties adjacent to the building do not belong to Fraser, so according to the Construction Law, the large windows are not permitted unless there is a minimum distance of three meters intervening and shorter distances are only authorized when the windows open to patios with a wall built on the dividing line between the properties.

Nonetheless, this circumstance is not met by the Fraser building so Ruiz believes that there is a violation of privacy of the adjacent property. However, the municipal engineer specified that this inconsistency is of a private nature and it is not up to the mayor’s office to pass judgment on a personal matter between neighbors.

For his part, Milanes indicated that the recommendations of the findings of the inspection were sent to the specialized assessment unit of the CFIA as well as to the engineering department of the Municipality of Nicoya and to Rodolfo Jimenez Brown.

Health and CFIA Checked Repairs

In 2013, the Ministry of Health gave its approval to repair the building and not demolish it. The reason, according to Zinnia Cordero, director of the Nicoya Area of Health, is that the property fulfilled the remedial plan established and therefore the structure does not represent a risk to the safety of pedestrians and neighbors.

Likewise, Juan Jose Murillo detailed in his report that the alleged cracks caused by the 2012 earthquake to the structure could not be observed from the street on the day of the inspection.  


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