The national planning authority approved a massive construction plan to build 23,000 apartments on the grounds of the Israel Military Industries complex in a Tel Aviv suburb.
The plans, approved by the authority’s deputy appeals committee, cover 7,430 dunams (1,857 acres) of land in the municipalities of Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, Hod Hasharon and the Southern Sharon regional council. The land is bordered by Route 4, eastern Hod Hasharon, Southern Sharon to the north, Herzliya to the northwest, and Ramat Hasharon to the southwest.
The plan, which is Israel’s largest development plan, entered the appeals stage two years ago.
Israel Military Industries’ factories have been situated at the site for decades, polluting the land and the groundwater. According to a 1992 ministerial decision, IMI has until 2020 to vacate the premises.
The plan splits the area into eight smaller divisions. Detailed development plans will be approved for each one, with input from the municipalities in which they are located.
After a special planning authority was created to develop the site in 2012, the plan raised 600 objections, including from residents of the surrounding cities and environmental groups.
One of the biggest issues facing the potential development has been the pollution at the site. Some petitioners had demanded that the site be fully evacuated so that land surveys could be held before any construction begins. The appeals committee rejected this, stating that the size of the site and the degree of pollution made this unfeasible, and that the pollution needed to be handled in stages.
It also rejected claims that the Interior Ministry official charged with reviewing the plan had a conflict of interest. The official, Zeev Amit, has since passed away.
However, the committee did agree to some changes. One is that each individual section will be cleared of pollution as a condition for receiving approval for its development plan. The cleanup will be conducted regardless of development, it stated.
A survey will be conducted to determine if any parts of the site should be preserved for their environmental value.
The development plan was drafted with the goals of both reducing the shortage of housing Israel faces in the center of the country, and cleaning up the pollution endangering people in the surrounding area. It is one of few sites with such development potential in central Israel.
In its conclusion, the committee stated that the long planning process had been due to the complexity of the site, particularly the pollution there. As time passes, the development plans must be updated to meet changing needs and technologies, it noted.
Some of the opposing parties are likely to petition the High Court of Justice against the plan.
NGO Adam Teva V’Din, one of the petitioners, stated that while the committee had not accepted its position that the pollution needed to be dealt with regardless of the site’s development, it had drafted a much more efficient and professional way of handling the matter.
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