A group of civil society organizations, urbanists, art experts and ordinary citizens address the Mayor of Tbilisi on the issue of hotel construction on the territory of Vake Park in the capital.
January 21, 2019
“Mr. Kakha Kaladze,
We are addressing you with regards to the construction of a hotel on the territory of Vake Park.
As you are aware, the Supreme Court has declared inadmissible the lawsuit filed by activist groups against the ruling of the Court of Appeals; moreover, in its decision, it agreed with the judgment of the Court of Appeals that a relevant administrative authority issued a construction permit through the process compliant with the law. The ruling reads that “Vake Park does not include the territory, where according to disputable acts, hotel construction is planned” and emphasizes the importance of hotel construction in Vake Park for the development of the territory and attraction of tourists. The Supreme Court shared the judgment of the Court of Appeals, according to which construction works in the Park will cause no harm to the activist groups.
The court judgment represents the interpretation of legal norms against public interests, also creates a threat to the legal achievement saved as a result of the five-year struggle of environmentalists – the unity of the Park, and poses an important threat to similar cases in the future.
Despite the court’s controversial judgment, we emphasize that building permit is outdated. Amid legal proceedings and in frames of the procedures to prolong the term of construction, the investor failed to eradicate the identified shortcomings and thus the procedure to prolong the term of construction right- failed. Zonal agreement is part of the process on issuing a construction permit. The terms of construction also involve an obligation on constructing a building envisaged by the terms of the zonal agreement within particular timeframes. Since the court has not restored the construction permit, and even more, it refused to suspend the validity of construction permit pending court proceedings, whereas the investor failed to prolong the term of construction, at this point, the investor has no right to carry out construction works, including under conditions envisaged by the zonal agreement. Therefore, if the construction intention still persists, the investor will have to apply to the Tbilisi Municipality and undergo all stages envisaged by the process of issuing a construction permit. In the process of issuing a new permit, the Tbilisi Municipality should take into consideration the fact that in July 2017 the territorial boundaries of Vake Park were increased and the entire area was granted the status of a cultural heritage monument. Moreover, it should focus on one more new circumstance that the new constitution clearly defines citizens’ right to use a public space.
Construction of a hotel or any other building in Vake Park is unacceptable for the majority of Tbilisi population. Similar approach towards the issue will cause irreparable harm to already critical ecological situation of the capital, neglect public demand and create a harmful precedent for the process of protection and development of ecosystem services in the future. In addition, we emphasize that the disputable territory is located within the boundaries of Vake Park; it represents a recreation zone and authorizing any construction works there contradicts the law and public interests.
Hence, it is necessary to once and forever solve the issue by rejecting the investor’s request for a new construction permit.
Since, according to your public statements, you are against the construction works in the Park, it is essential to agree in coordination with the public on legal arguments for rejecting the construction permit and to determine a legal form for returning the disputable territory to the capital.
Based on the above mentioned, we, the supporters of Vake Park, ask you to hold a public meeting, where we will agree on legal arguments for rejecting the construction permit, also discuss legal perspectives of returning the disputable territory to the capital’s ownership.”
Real Laboratory for Future Urban Planners
Zurab Bakradze, urban planner
Levan Kalandarishvili, architect
Tamar Amashukeli, art expert
Tsira Elisashvili, art expert
Erekle Urushadze, civil rights activist
Tamar Uguzashvili, civil rights activist
Nana Biganishvili, journalist
Merab Kechkhoshvili, civil rights activist
Salome Kvaratskhelia, civil rights activist
Dimitri Maisuradze, civil rights activist
Simon Bitadze, civil rights activist
Daniel Kartvelishvili, civil rights activist
Sandro Ebralidze, civil rights activist
Beka Medzmariashvili, civil rights activist
Andria Gogibedashvili, civil rights activist
Shalva Chugunadze, civil rights activist