Nosara, Nicoya

Nicoya City Hall Halts Possible Demo of Beach Hut Built Without Permits in Garza Because Official is on Vacation

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The City of Nicoya still hasn’t decided what it will do with a ranch that an American built illegally  in the maritime-land zone in Garza beach in Nosara, where no one can build because there is no zoning plan.

The construction department recommended that the city demolish the project in March. Back then, the mayor requested an opinion from the legal department and the process got stuck there because the head of the department, Miguel Guillén, is on vacation and he returns in October.

In an interview with The Voice on April 2, Guillén said that Humberto León was in charge of drafting the document and it would be ready a week later. Two months later, it still hasn’t been signed.

León said that the legal opinion is already ready, but that it must be approved by his boss in order to share it.

I can’t comment (on the opinion) for professional ethical reasons and for orders from the legal department,” León said when asked for details about the content of the document.  

Via WhatsApp, Guillén said that the opinion has been drafted by his substitute, but that he will review it when he is back at work.

Mayor Marco Jiménez said that they must wait for the legal opinion and for the maritime-land zone department to make a decision. This newspaper asked what he will do with the fact that Guillén said that he will review it in October and he answered that he hadn’t talked to him about it.

While in Garza, several properties cross the ZMT boundary, many of them were built before the  maritime-land zone became law, more than 40 years ago. In fact, no resident has permission to expand their homes because the city hasn’t created a zoning plan that determines how such construction should be done.

The Voice of Guanacaste has tried to get in touch with David Lesman for four months, without success. His attorney, Guillermo Chacón, said on two occasions that he won’t discuss the case until Lesman returns to the country.

Four Months and Counting

The Voice of Guanacaste revealed that the construction was going on without permits four months ago. Then, Jiménez was suspended and deputy mayor Adriana Rodríguez was in charge.

The deputy mayor and the attorney who wrote the opinion claim that Guillén (the head of the department) went on vacation under the understanding that he would review the option related to the property’s demolition in his absence. Guillén confirmed this, but said that “that was an arrangement with the previous mayor, not ratified with the current one.”

Why hasn’t the mayor made a decision? Jiménez says he can’t do anything without a legal opinion. But Guillén said that “I stress that legal means accompaniment, not executive decision.” This newspaper sought explanation, but the head of the legal department didn’t answer messages or phone calls.

The official in charge of the maritime-land zone Rodrigo Acuña told The Voice that he had already provided his opinion to the construction control department when the head of the department requested it. “At the time, we told him (Josué Ruiz, the head of the department) that (David Lesman) hadn’t given any authorization to build,” he said. “I am going to take to the mayor what we have already done on this matter,” he said.

The head of the construction control department Josué Ruiz explained that the department had recommended demolition and that they need the approval of the mayor to begin.

My department is in charge of doing field work, having the file and laying the groundwork (for demolition) so that they can give us a greenlight. They take charge of legally analyzing it in order to figure out what to do.”

What does the council say?  Representatives analyzed the situation and agreed to wait 30 working days before demolishing the beach hut. According to representative Jhonny Gutiérrez, that time frame ended on May 30.

Since the administration hasn’t resolved anything yet, the council’s ZMT committee will meet on Wednesday, May 19 to request explanations. “We have to convene the ZMT officials and construction control so that we can clear things up,” said substitute representative William Allen.