Sunday 19 September 2021

Legislators extend three-year moratorium to occupants of protected areas

Initiative that suspends evictions, demolition of works and development of commercial or agricultural activities in those areas was approved in the first debate.

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QCOSTARICA – Through fast-track, legislators approved this Monday to extend the validity of Law No. 9577 that protects the occupants of the Maritime Terrestrial Zone (ZMT), the border mile and those areas declared natural heritage of the State, the so-called special zones,

On Espadilla beach, in Quepos, the restricted use of properties in the Maritime-Terrestrial Zone is under review. Photo: Alejandro Gamboa Madrigal

With 39 votes in favor and none against, the plenary approved in first debate the initiative that suspends the period the evictions of people, demolition of works, and development of commercial or agricultural activities in those areas.

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The text of the extension is identical to the Law approved in July 2018, which suspends evictions for three years while the corresponding institutions order those territories or legislators approve legislation in that regard.

The initiative of legislator David Gourzong, of the National Liberation Party (PLN), was processed with exemption from all procedures and, this Monday.

The second debate was set for next Thursday, July 1, so its final approval would be finalized in just seven calendar days.

The idea of ​​the extension arose because the law approved in 2018 expires in July, so the occupants of those areas would be exposed to evictions.

The ZMT comprises a width of 200 meters of territory measured linearly from the point where the sea meets the land at high tide.

The first 50 meters are a public asset because the beaches that are publicly accessible are there, and the remaining 150 meters of land are for restricted use.

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They are located along 1,228 kilometers (km) of coastline: 1,016 km in the Pacific and 212 km in the Caribbean.

The border zone covers 2 kilometers within the strip of the Costa Rican borders with Nicaragua and Panama, known as the border mile; while those declared natural patrimony of the State are, for example, national parks.

During the validity of the moratorium, says the Law, the State must take measures to organize these territories.

For example, it enables the Government to continue with the concession of land in the border area. At the same time, it empowers the municipalities that have coasts to apply the regulations.

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In the case of areas declared natural patrimony of the State, adds the law, the application of the moratorium will be in charge of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (Minae).

During the validity of the benefit, the State shall not allow new occupations to occur.

=”The State must work quickly to have technical studies that support the projects that we can build,” the legislator demanded.

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