Holon cannot build any more apartments on sand dunes in the city that are zoned to become a park, an appeals subcommittee of the National Planning and Building Council ruled last week.
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In its decision, the panel upheld the ruling of the Tel Aviv District Planning and Building Committee and supported the position of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, according to which this site should be protected. The city had appealed that verdict to the national agency.
Holon had been advancing a plan to build more than 13,000 apartments in an area that included some 4,000 dunams (1,000 acres) of the last remaining natural sand dunes within city limits. A small portion of the dunes were to be earmarked for a park. The SPNI challenged the plan, arguing that the park should be larger and the population density in the adjacent neighborhoods should be increased. The district zoning board accepted this argument and also limited the area next to the park on which public buildings could be built.
The municipality appealed, saying that enlarging the park would disturb the balance between the need for housing and the need to preserve the dunes. It noted that denser construction would mean eliminating the neighborhoods of single-family homes the city was planning, one of the purposes of which was to draw wealthier families to the city.
The appeals committee cited Holon Mayor Motti Sasson’s declared intention to preserve the dunes as a public park, but rejected his plan to reduce the size of the park so that more homes could be built. “Natural sites are best preserved by creating a dune park of a size that provides a good habitat for flora and fauna,” the panel ruled. “The importance of the park’s size increases given the fact that in the future the dunes are to be surrounded by intensive construction.”
While the panel was sympathetic to the municipality’s desire to attract economically stronger families to the city, it said, “The way to do this, we believe, is by preserving high quality standards in the construction of high-rise buildings, and in developing the dunes park and its environments as a significant attraction, along with the other attractions that the Holon municipality has succeeded in developing in recent years.”