Nosara, Nicoya, Nature

Municipality of Nicoya wins trial against businessman in Nosara over the validity of building code in the Ostional Refuge

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español
Translator: Arianna Hernández

The Contentious Administrative Court issued notification this morning that it has rejected the lawsuit against the Municipality of Nicoya’s temporary building code, which had been filed by the company JBR Capital Ventures, managed by Jeffrey Grosshandler, a hotel and real estate businessman in Nosara. The appeal rendered the code approved by the municipal authorities in February of 2020 invalid.

With this code, the local government seeks to establish limits on construction in the five kilometers (3.1 miles) just beyond the Ostional Refuge, in the district of Nosara, which the municipality defines as the buffer zone for the conservation site where thousands of sea turtles lay their eggs annually. This strip is currently undergoing exponential urban growth.

“The municipality acted in accordance with its constitutional duty to protect the environment by evaluating the existence of a serious and irreversible danger for protected species, such as, in this case, the olive ridley turtles, which nest in the Ostional Reserve by the thousands,” pronounced judges Carlos Zamora Campos, Alcevit Godínez Prado and Daniel Aguilar Méndez.

 Grosshandler filed the lawsuit against the Municipality of Nicoya two months after the code was made official, in February of 2020. In his lawsuit, the businessman indicated that the code would impose limitations on transforming, investing and improving capital gains in the three properties that he owns in the buffer zone.

However, to the Court, the regulation is precisely necessary, given the lack of instruments that ensure the protection of the ecosystem, such as the regulatory plan and the General Management Plan for the refuge.

“.(..) far from there being a regulatory impediment, on the contrary, a duty of municipal corporations to regulate situations of environmental interest prevails, even when the regulatory or zoning plans do not yet exist for any reason,” the Court emphasized. 

The temporary building code approved by the municipality was in force for 16 months: between February of 2020 and June of 2021. After that date, they were suspended while the Court resolved the lawsuit filed by JBR Capital Ventures against the Municipality of Nicoya.

The Nosara Civic Association, the Wild Flora and Fauna Preservation Association, represented by lawyer Bernal Gamboa, and former legislators Paola Vega and José María Villalta were coadjuvants in the case.

To Mayor Carlos Armando Martínez, this represents an achievement, not only for the municipality but also for the natural resources protection area.

We understand that we can use the temporary building code again. Our path is to continue with the regulatory plan, but to be able to have a code to continue protecting gives the municipality great strength in protecting the ecosystem and benefiting the community’s sustainability,” he said.

Grosshandler’s lawyer, Ernesto Jinesta, said that they are analyzing the sentence. “We believe it is premature to share definitive conclusions because it is a complex resolution,” he said.

Preliminarily, we think that the challenged code continues to be null and inapplicable because the law that gave rise to it was declared unconstitutional in October of 2022 and, consequently, the code can’t exist without the legal framework that the Municipality used to issue it,” he pointed out.

The sentence has yet to become definitive.

*Breaking news. This article will be updated as new information becomes available.