While the government is celebrating Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon's plan for swamping the country with housing in the buyer fixed price framework, mayors of some of the cities to which the plan applies are expressing opposition.
"Not a single housing unit should be built on the Apollonia site for the next 30 years," Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon told "Globes." "An Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI) plant operated years ago on the land, which is known to be polluted. Tests we recently made on soil samples revealed materials that the laboratories in Israel do not recognize, so we sent the samples to overseas laboratories. The state has decided to bypass the Local and District Planning and Building Commissions, and to promote a residential construction plan at the National Planning and Building Committee for Priority Residential Sites.
"On the one hand, we support the plan to increase the supply of housing in the city. On the other hand, the land in question is polluted. The right thing to do is to let it rest from all the pollution in it for the next 20-30 years. I call on the government to carry the plan out on a different site, and to leave Apollonia alone."
In March 2016, the Planning Administration announced that the National Planning and Building Committee for Priority Residential Sites, which aims to promote residential construction plans in an expedited procedure, gave the go-ahead for the Apollonia project in Herzliya. The approved plan includes the construction of a neighborhood with 3,000 housing units in buildings of up to 26 storeys, 50,000 square meters of business space, and three hotels, in addition to a national park and open archeological spaces, on a 1,000-dunam (250-acre) site in western Herzliya.
Two months earlier, in January 2016, a roof agreement was signed by the Herzliya municipality and the Ministries of Finance and Construction and Housing, in which it was agreed that Herzliya would market 8,000 new housing units under the buyer fixed price plan, 3,000 of which would be in Apollonia.
"Before any construction takes place, we demand an environmental impact survey and purification of the land from one end to the other," Fadon added. "The pollution is deep and on a large scale. We also demand that the planners take into account the Apollonia antiquities site on the area of the plan, and preservation of the nature values there, because the land contains both a national park and unique nature values that exist nowhere else in Israel, and it is important to preserve them. We opposed the plan, and the National Planning and Building Committee for Priority Residential Sites dismissed our objections. We will go to court if necessary. We will insist on complete purification of Apollonia."
Herzliya residents and nature experts are also opposing the plan, and any construction in Apollonia. A demonstration by opponents of the plan is scheduled on Sunday in front of the municipality building.
Dror Ben Ami, one of the leaders of the campaign, said, "The land in Apollonia is hazardous to the public. Development there will destroy the last strip of nature in the Sharon area. It is the duty of the state and the municipality to preserve nature for the public's benefit, not to promote luxury high-rises for a minority."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on June 18, 2017
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