Five families who claim their quality of life has suffered since a new mall opened up near them are filing suit against the Hadera municipality.
Shimon Grinberg used to see open fields when he looked out of the window in his home. But ever since a new mall opened in Hadera last September, his view has changed, and so has his life. "Today I have to deal with loud music from cafes and with noise from the ice cream shops that are open until well into the night," he says. "Kids go through my yard and a new passage that has developed between the building and the mall has become a shortcut for the motorcycle deliveries from the restaurants."
Grinberg, like other residents of 20 Borochov Street, is trying to get used to his new reality, which has been created by the opening of the Mix Mall. The mall, a complex of shops, restaurants and soon - movie theaters - takes up some 15 acres of land. Its location, adjacent to the backyard of Grinberg and his neighbors, keeps them awake at all hours, as nighttime revelers feel free to shout and noisy trucks unload their merchandise before dawn. Not to mention the stench of the public toilets, which penetrates their homes.
Five families that live at 20 Borochov Street took their complaints to the appeals committee of the Interior Ministry in the Haifa District, which decided the municipality must pay each family NIS 150,0000. But the families say that figure is too low. They say the mall has reduced the value of their homes and harmed their quality of life, and they are preparing to sue the Hadera municipality for damages.
Most of the residents' anger is directed at the municipality, which they say is more concerned about the developers' well-being than theirs. They claim the municipality did not give them all the necessary information about the project, and that they received relevant documents only after the plan was already approved and construction work already began.
The families are protesting what they call a number of flaws in the project's building plan or its implementation. For one, they were promised that an acoustic wall and a dirt barrier would be put up on the road to separate the commercial area from their homes. But, they say, the wall was not built in the correct place nor is it acoustic, while the dirt barrier has yet to be put up. So even though the barrier was a required precondition for tenanting the mall, the Hadera municipality, which was responsible for erecting the barrier, allowed the developers to occupy the building even without it.
A second problem, the inhabitants say, is that the operational parking lot for the complex was moved from its originally-planned location. It is now adjacent to their apartments, as are the storerooms and the garbage receptacles. Under the original plan for the project, these were supposed to have been located elsewhere. The residents have not received compensation for the change in their location.
Neighborhood resident Zeev Saltzman says that the Hadera municipality thinks it deserves accolades, rather than criticism, for the mall's erection, since officials said the new complex would create 300 new jobs in the area, and would be good for housing prices. "The municipal assessor said we should be saying thank you because we are a distressed neighborhood and the mall will improve the value of our homes," Saltzman says.
The developer of the mall is the Polygon company owned by Kobi Maimon, a close associate of Minister of Communications and Social Affairs Moshe Kahlon. The company has not responded to Haaretz's request for answers about this issue.
The Hadera municipality told Haaretz "the complex was approved by the Municipal Association for the Environment."
It added: "The commercial center built by the Polygon company has been built legally in accordance with a building permit, and a year ago it received the authorization required by law for tenanting. The public area between the center and the neighborhood serves as an acoustic wall, a landscaped promenade and a public passageway, and has been built as required by law. The development works were completed in accordance with the instructions and requirements of the plan and the permit, as evidenced by the developed complex and its surroundings. The issue of the location of the wall has been examined and it has been built in accordance with to the permit.
"At the inhabitants' request, an acoustic addition has even been added that was not required by the relevant authorities. The suit for compensation for the reduction in value filed by the adjoining neighbors was discussed in the appeals committee and a sum was ruled in their favor, which has been paid by the municipality as required."