New Rules Regulate Size of Buildings in Nosara in order to Protect Wildlife in Ostional

Esta publicación también está disponible en: Español

The City of Nicoya will publish a temporary rule that limits construction in the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge buffer zone (RNVSO) which is made up of the five kilometers on the back end of the refuge that pass through Guiones and Pelada.

The new regulation intends to prevent human activity that could have a negative impact on the ecosystem. For example, it aims to prevent artificial light from disorienting spawning turtles or affecting them when they hatch and head to the sea.

For the first time, the city will have regulations that limit the minimum and maximum sizes of lots and buildings.

The buffer zone is made up of the direct impact area (1 kilometer or 0.6 miles from the refuge) and the indirect impact area (four additional kilometers or 2.5 miles).

In the direct impact area, lots of less than 1,000 square meters won’t be allowed nor will buildings that take up more than 40 percent of the lot’s total area. The building’s height must be under six meters.

In the indirect impact zone, the minimum area for lots is 270 square meters and buildings can occupy a maximum of 50 percent of the lot with a maximum height of nine meters.

1000m2minimun lot size in direct impact area
270m2minimun lot size in indirect impact area






The document states that walls in the indirect impact zone must be painted colors similar to the surrounding vegetation. Hedges made of native tree species are recommended.

Exterior lights must be pointed at the ground and internal lights must be blocked with curtains or other barriers in order to not disorient turtles that come to spawn or those that hatch and are heading into the sea

Once officially published, the new regulations will only apply to new construction projects and not existing ones.

If there are already lots of less than 1,000 meters in the direct impact zone or 270 in the indirect impact zone, the city will allow construction as long as it complies within the percentage limits defined for each area.  

Read here the regulation (in Spanish) and here a Q&A (in English) written by Nosara Civic Association.

The Proposal

The regulations were proposed by the Nosara Civic Association (NCA) to the city’s zoning committee in order to control urban growth in Nosara while the zoning plan is drafted.

A large part of the regulations were based on the regulatory proposal for sustainable development of the Las Baulas National Marine Park and the Camaronal Wildlife Refuge,” said NCA representative Francisco Jiménez.

Now the city is working on publishing the rules in the official Gazette. Once published, the community will have 10 days to make suggestions that the local government may include in the regulations. The first publication in the Gazette will include a place, date and instructions for turning in observations.  

Once the consultation process is done, the definitive regulations will be published.

So far, the new rules appear to satisfy the various community representatives, including some developers.

Ostional Refuge manager Yeimy Cedeño says the new rules are very important. “You can already see light pollution from Nosara and it has been proven in scientific studies that lights disorient marine turtles,” Cedeño said.

Real estate developers will hold a meeting at the end of the month with members of the zoning plan committee to discuss any doubts. They appear to be satisfied with the urban growth control in Nosara.

We think the basis of the report is necessary and it’s important to regulate development in the area,” says Donald Loría of Prensa Loría developments. But he says that technical information is still lacking.

Loría said that 400 meters of construction on a 1,000 square meter lot would equal 40 percent, but if two floors are built it would be 80 percent.

Century 21 real estate broker Carlos Campos also said that the new rules are lacking specifics on the number of people that can live on each square hectare (population density) but he applauds the initiative. “Without this contingency, things could get out of hand. We have been seeing very small lots and we are in a zone with a lot of natural resources and close to the sea,” he said.