Finance Ministry, ILA oppose Ayalon park plan

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Minister of the Environment Yehudith Naot support the project.

The Ministry of Finance and the Israel Land Administration (ILA) oppose the Ayalon park plan, which has been deposited with the National Planning and Building Council. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Minister of the Environment Yehudith Naot, and Minister of the Interior Avraham Poraz, who visited the designated park site last week, expressed support for the project.

Following the visit, it was decided to submit the plans for the park, the reclamation of the Hiriya site, and the transfer of the gas produced there to the Ben Gurion Airport 2000, for cabinet approval.

The Ayalon park plan has been the subject of controversy since it was first proposed in 1975. The 8,000-dunam (2,000-acre) site is occupied by seasonal users with rights, and by a garbage dump in the center. The owners include the Hazera Genetics compound and Mikveh Yisrael - Vinik Institute for Agricultural Technology Holon. Development costs for the park are estimated at $500 million.

The Tel Aviv Regional Planning and Building Board deposited a plan with the National Planning and Building Council four months ago. The plan designates most of the site for a park for the central region, and also provides for future construction of 2,000 housing units in the Hazera Genetics compound. The board emphasized that construction will require its approval, and only if the area is needed for residential construction.

Hazera Genetics filed an objection to the plan, claiming that the park could not be financed without construction, and demanding immediate construction of 10,000 housing units. Hazera Genetics signed a land rezoning agreement with the ILA, under Resolution 611.

In its objection, Mikve Yisrael demanded to be separated from the plan, and authorization for construction, mostly in the vicinity of the Holtz intersection in Holon. Alliance Israelite Universelle, which owns 50% of Mikve Yisrael, wants to build an institute of higher education on the site.

In its objection, the ILA demands extremely extensive construction in both the Hazera Genetics compound and the Mikve Yisrael-owned section. ILA manager Yaacov Efrati said residential and business construction should be permitted around the edges of the park.

The Ministry of Finance recently changed its position, after supporting the plan approved by the Tel Aviv Regional Planning and Building Board, which greatly restricts construction.

The ministry unexpectedly announced its support for construction to finance the cost of the park. Up until now, the Ministry of Finance strongly opposed the use of construction to finance the park, saying that proceeds from rezoning should go into the state treasury, not designated for a specific plan.

The planning authorities oppose this method, claiming that it could create serious distortions and pressure for construction on open spaces. The planning authorities believe that the Ministry of Finance’s opposition was spurred by pressure from developers. 17 objections to the plan have been filed, including one by the Tel Aviv Municipality.

Published by Globes [online] -l - on July 13, 2003

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